When are Blackberries in Season: Plant these Varieties to Extend Your Harvest

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Introduction

Summer is not just about sunshine and vacations, but also marks the time of year when many delicious fruits, including blackberries, are ripe and ready for picking. Blackberries are a beloved seasonal treat, valued for their rich flavor and nutritional properties. However, knowing when these berries are in their prime can be a bit complex. Not only does the ripening process depend on the particular type of blackberry bush, but also on a range of environmental factors, such as weather and local climate.

This comprehensive guide will provide you with an in-depth understanding of the blackberry ripening process and harvest times. We’ll take a look at different blackberry cane types, the flowering process, the various stages of ripening, and practical tips for picking. We will also delve into the factors that influence a plant’s yield, an overview of different blackberry varieties, and even a state-by-state guide to the blackberry season.

Whether you are a backyard gardener aiming to make the most of your harvest, or a berry enthusiast eager to learn about the optimal time to go blackberry picking in the wild, this guide will help you get the best out of the blackberry season.

From understanding when blackberries bloom to knowing when the berries are perfectly ripe for picking, you will be equipped with all the knowledge you need to enjoy a fruitful blackberry harvest. So, let’s start our journey through the fascinating lifecycle of the blackberry plant, a journey that takes us from bud to basket, and ultimately, to our taste buds.

Blackberry Ripening Chart 1

Blackberry Ripening Chart

Blackberry Varieties

Planting a variety of blackberries can extend your harvest. Below are some of the most well-known blackberry varieties with ripening dates from early Jun to September. These dates are just for a reference and will vary based on your location.

Apache Blackberry

This variety boasts large, very firm, and highly flavored fruits. It’s a thornless type that’s excellent for eating fresh off the vine.

  • Fruiting Type: Floricane-fruiting (Summer-Bearing)
  • Bloom Time: Mid March to Late May
  • Season: Late June to Early August

Arapaho Blackberry

Known for its early ripening, the Arapaho is a thornless variety that produces high yields of large, sweet blackberries.

  • Fruiting Type: Floricane-fruiting (Summer-Bearing)
  • Bloom Time: Mid March to Late May
  • Season: Early June to Mid July

Boysenberry

A unique cross among the European raspberry, European blackberry, American dewberry, and loganberry. Boysenberries are large, juicy berries with a sweet and tangy flavor.

  • Fruiting Type: Floricane-fruiting (Summer-Bearing)
  • Bloom Time: Mid March to Late May
  • Season: Early July to Late August

Chester Blackberry

The Chester blackberry is known for its late season, producing medium to large, sweet blackberries that are great for fresh eating and preserving.

  • Fruiting Type: Floricane-fruiting (Summer-Bearing)
  • Bloom Time: Late April to Early June
  • Season: Mid July to Early September

Hull Blackberry

This variety produces large, sweet blackberries, making it perfect for desserts and jams. The Hull blackberry’s high yield is favored by commercial growers and home gardeners alike.

  • Fruiting Type: Floricane-fruiting (Summer-Bearing)
  • Bloom Time: Mid March to Late May
  • Season: Mid June to Late July

Kiowa Blackberry

The Kiowa blackberry is known for its very large fruit, which have an excellent, intense flavor. The plants are thorny but highly productive.

  • Fruiting Type: Floricane-fruiting (Summer-Bearing)
  • Bloom Time: Mid March to Late May
  • Season: Early June to Mid July

Loganberry

A cross between a blackberry and a raspberry, the loganberry is generally larger, sweeter, and juicier than its parent fruits.

  • Fruiting Type: Floricane-fruiting (Summer-Bearing)
  • Bloom Time: Mid March to Late May
  • Season: Mid June to Late July

Natchez Blackberry

The Natchez blackberry is known for its large, very sweet, and flavorful berries. This thornless variety also ripens early in the season.

  • Fruiting Type: Floricane-fruiting (Summer-Bearing)
  • Bloom Time: Early March to Late April
  • Season: Early June to Mid July

The Navaho blackberry is a favorite for its consistently sweet, juicy berries. It is the world’s first erect-growing, thornless blackberry.

  • Fruiting Type: Floricane-fruiting (Summer-Bearing)
  • Bloom Time: Mid March to Late May
  • Season: Early July to Mid August

Osage Blackberry

Known for its exceptional flavor and balanced sweetness, the Osage blackberry is excellent for fresh eating, cooking, and preserves.

  • Fruiting Type: Floricane-fruiting (Summer-Bearing)
  • Bloom Time: Early March to Late April
  • Season: Early June to Late July

Ouachita Blackberry

A sturdy and thornless variety, the Ouachita blackberry produces large, sweet, and firm berries that are perfect for fresh eating and preserving.

  • Fruiting Type: Floricane-fruiting (Summer-Bearing)
  • Bloom Time: Early March to Late April
  • Season: Early June to Late July

Prime Ark Freedom Blackberry

The Prime Ark Freedom blackberry is a unique primocane variety offering two crops per season and producing large, sweet, and juicy fruits.

  • Fruiting Type: Primocane-fruiting (fall-fruiting or everbearing)
  • Bloom Time: Mid April to Late June
  • Season: Early July to Late September (main crop) and Late August to Mid October (secondary crop)

Sweetie Pie Blackberry

A thornless variety resistant to diseases and heat-tolerant, the Sweetie Pie blackberry produces sweet, delicious berries, perfect for pies, jams, and jellies.

  • Fruiting Type: Floricane-fruiting (Summer-Bearing)
  • Bloom Time: Mid March to Late May
  • Season: Early June to Mid July

Triple Crown Blackberry

This thornless, prolific variety offers large, flavorful berries that are great for eating fresh and using in baked goods.

  • Fruiting Type: Semi-erect, floricane-fruiting (Summer-Bearing)
  • Bloom Time: Mid April to Late June
  • Season: Late July to Late August

When Do Blackberries Bloom

Blackberries typically begin to bloom in late spring to early summer, depending on the variety and regional climate. The time from blooming to fruit set is a critical period, and understanding this process can help optimize your blackberry harvest.

Blackberry Flower Blackberry Blossom
Blackberry Flower

Blackberry Pollination Process

Blackberries are self-fertile, meaning that a single plant can pollinate itself. However, cross-pollination between different plants often results in higher yields and larger fruit. The pollination process primarily involves the transfer of pollen from the male parts (anthers) of a flower to the female part (stigma) of the same or a different flower, usually with the aid of pollinators like bees and butterflies.

Once a flower is pollinated, the fertilized ovules develop into seeds, and the surrounding ovary swells to form the berry. Each blackberry fruit is actually an aggregate of several small druplets, each of which contains a seed.

Effect of Weather Conditions on Blooming

Weather conditions have a significant impact on blackberry blooms. Ideal conditions include a mild spring followed by a warm (but not too hot) and sunny summer. A late frost can damage emerging buds and flowers, resulting in reduced fruit set. On the other hand, excessively hot weather can cause flowers to drop prematurely, also decreasing the yield.

Moreover, rain and high humidity during the blooming period can promote the spread of fungal diseases, such as Botrytis fruit rot or gray mold, which can harm the flowers and developing fruit. As such, while blackberries are relatively hardy, providing them with optimum growing conditions can enhance their bloom and subsequent fruiting.

When Do Blackberries Ripen

The ripening period for blackberries varies based on the variety, location, and climate. However, generally, they ripen from late June through August.

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Hull Thornless Blackberry
Hull Thornless Blackberry

Blackberry Cane Types: Floricane & Primocane

Role in Ripening Process

Blackberries grow on brambles, which have two types of canes: the floricane and the primocane. Floricanes are biennial, producing leaves in their first year and flowers and fruit in their second before dying off. Primocanes are annual canes that grow, flower, and fruit all in the same year. The cane type plays a crucial role in the blackberry ripening process.

In floricane-fruiting varieties, such as ‘Logan’ and ‘Boysen’, berries ripen in mid-to-late summer of the cane’s second year. On the other hand, primocane-fruiting types, like ‘Prime-Ark Freedom’ and ‘Prime-Ark Traveler’, bear fruit in late summer to fall of the first year. Some blackberry cultivars, often called “double-cropping” varieties, bear a summer crop on the previous year’s floricanes and a fall crop on the current year’s primocanes.

Care for Each Cane Type

Care for each cane type slightly differs. Floricanes require pruning after they have fruited to allow the new primocanes space to grow. Pruning should be done carefully to prevent damage to the new growth. Primocanes, after they have fruited, can be cut to the ground in late winter or early spring, before the new growth starts.

Regardless of cane type, a proper watering schedule, adequate sunlight, and well-draining soil are essential for healthy growth and a bountiful harvest. Fertilizer application and pest control should be according to the specific needs of the cultivar and the local growing conditions.

When Does Blackberry Season Start

Blackberry season typically starts in the late spring or early summer, often in June, when the first cultivars begin to ripen. This is when you might start to see blackberries available at farmer’s markets and in grocery stores.

Start, End, and Peak Blackberry Season

Blackberry season starts in late spring to early summer and can extend into the fall for some cultivars, especially the primocane-fruiting varieties. Peak blackberry season usually occurs in mid-summer, around July and August, when most cultivars are in full production.

The ripening times for farm vs wild blackberries might differ. Wild blackberries usually ripen later in the summer, often in late July and August. The exact timing can vary based on local climate and weather patterns.

When Does Blackberry Season End? Blackberry season generally ends in late summer or early fall, around September, when the last of the berries have been harvested. However, for some late-ripening varieties or in warmer climates, the season can extend into October.

Blackberry Ripening Stages

Blackberries go through several ripening stages. They first appear as small green fruits after flowering, which then enlarge and turn red. As they ripen, they turn from red to a deep, shiny black. The ripening process is not reversible, and each berry tends to ripen at its own pace.

Identify Ripe and Overripe Blackberries

Ripe blackberries are fully black with no red or green parts. They should be plump and firm to the touch, but not hard. When they’re ripe, they’ll come off the bush with only a slight tug. If you have to pull hard, the berry likely isn’t ready to be picked.

Overripe blackberries may appear very dark, almost a dull black, and may feel soft or mushy. They can still be eaten but might be overly sweet and lack the slight tartness that characterizes a perfectly ripe blackberry.

Picking Blackberries

Harvesting blackberries is an activity many look forward to each summer. With the right preparation, the process can be enjoyable and productive, yielding a bounty of ripe, juicy fruit.

Picking Blackberries
Picking Blackberries

When to Pick Blackberries

The best time to pick blackberries is when they are fully ripe, typically between late June and August, depending on the variety and climate. Ripe blackberries will be a deep, glossy black and will easily pull away from the plant.

When picking blackberries, wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt to protect your skin from the plant’s thorns. A hat and sunglasses can protect you from the sun, and sturdy shoes will protect your feet.

Blackberry Picking Tools

While blackberries can be picked by hand, certain tools can make the task easier and more efficient. These include:

  • Blackberry picking basket: A sturdy basket or container can hold your harvested fruit and protect it from getting squashed.
  • Blackberry picking gloves: Thick, durable gloves can protect your hands from the plant’s thorns.

Tips for Clean and Efficient Picking

When picking blackberries, move slowly and carefully to avoid squashing the berries or getting caught on thorns. It’s best to pick in the early morning or late afternoon, when temperatures are cooler. Remember, ripe berries come off the bush easily – if you have to tug, they probably aren’t ripe yet.

Do Blackberries Ripen After Picking

Unlike some fruits, blackberries do not continue to ripen after they are picked. This is why it’s crucial to ensure they are fully ripe before you pick them.

Storage Methods Post-picking

After picking, blackberries should be refrigerated as soon as possible to maintain their quality. They can be stored in a shallow container, ideally in a single layer, to prevent squashing. Do not wash them until you’re ready to eat them, as moisture can promote mold growth.

Effect of Picking on Plant Health

Regular picking can actually promote further fruit production. However, it’s essential to be gentle when picking to avoid damaging the plant or the remaining unripe fruit. After the season ends, prune the canes that have borne fruit to make way for new growth.

Blackberry Yield per Plant

Estimating the yield of a blackberry plant can be an essential factor in planning a blackberry garden, especially for commercial growers. However, the yield can vary significantly depending on several factors.

blackberry picking tools
blackberry picking tools

Factors Affecting Yield

The amount of blackberries a single plant can produce is influenced by several key elements:

  1. Variety: Some blackberry varieties are more productive than others. For instance, thornless blackberry cultivars often have higher yields compared to wild blackberry species.
  2. Soil Conditions: Blackberries prefer well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Ensuring optimal soil conditions can significantly improve fruit yield.
  3. Weather: Temperature, sunlight, and precipitation levels play a significant role in the yield. Extreme weather conditions, such as late frost or drought, can negatively affect the yield.
  4. Plant Health: Plants that are free from disease and pests are likely to produce more. Regular inspection, timely intervention, and good overall care can ensure a healthy plant and higher yields.
  5. Care: Regular watering, appropriate fertilization, and proper pruning can significantly impact the fruiting capacity of the plant.

In an optimal setting, a well-maintained and mature blackberry plant can yield up to 10-20 lbs of fruit per season. However, this number can significantly vary depending on the aforementioned factors. Understanding these aspects can help in devising effective cultivation practices and optimizing the harvest.

Blackberry Season by State

  • When is Blackberry Season in California: Late May – Early July
  • Blackberry Season in Florida: Early April – Late May
  • Blackberry Season in Georgia: Mid June – Early August
  • Blackberry Picking in Illinois: Late June – Early August
  • When is Blackberry Season in Louisiana: Mid May – Late June
  • Blackberry Season in Michigan: Early July – Late August
  • Blackberry Season in North Carolina: Late June – Early August
  • Blackberry Season in Ohio: Early July – Late August
  • Blackberry Season in Oregon: Late June – Early August
  • When is Blackberry Season in Tennessee: Mid June – Early August
  • Blackberry Season in Texas: Mid May – Late June
  • Blackberry Season in Virginia: Mid June – Early August
  • When is Blackberry Season in Washington: Late June – Early August

Conclusion

Understanding when blackberries are in season for picking and the factors that influence the ripening process is crucial for both backyard growers and commercial farmers. Whether it’s the historical significance of blackberries or the implications of climate change on their growth, each aspect contributes to our comprehensive knowledge about these delightful fruits.

The life cycle of blackberries, from their distinctive cane types, blooming process, to the ripening stages, is a testament to nature’s intricate design. The joy of picking these sweet-tart berries during the peak season is an experience treasured by many.

Recognizing the differences in ripening between farm-grown and wild blackberries can lead to more fruitful harvests and a better appreciation for these fruits. Moreover, understanding the care required post-picking, the expected yield per plant, and the impact of picking on plant health are all essential for preserving these berries for future enjoyment.

In conclusion, blackberries offer us not just an enjoyable summer treat but also an opportunity to understand and appreciate the intricate processes of nature. Whether you are a casual berry picker or a dedicated farmer, may each blackberry season bring you a bountiful harvest and the joy of this simple yet profound connection with nature.

Recourses

https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/ec1303.pdf

https://www.livestrong.com/article/482462-when-are-blackberries-in-season/

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/fruits/blackberries/harvesting-blackberries.htm

https://extension.illinois.edu/blogs/simply-nutritious-quick-and-delicious/2021-05-24-make-most-berry-season

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/sep/08/seasonal-food-blackberries

https://www.almanac.com/plant/blackberries

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