Arkansas releases thornless primocane-fruiting blackberry suitable for storage, shipping to commercial marketsFeb. 24, 2015
By Fred Miller, Division of Agriculture Communications
• Prime-Ark Traveler is the second thornless primocane-fruiting blackberry
• Good storage and handling characteristics make Prime-Ark Traveler suitable for commercial markets
• Primocane-fruiting blackberries offer two harvests per year
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The second thornless primocane-fruiting blackberry released by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is the first of its kind to yield shipping-quality fruit suitable for commercial markets, said John R. Clark, director of the fruit breeding program.
Called Prime-Ark® Traveler, the new blackberry produces medium-large berries, good yields and has excellent plant health, Clark said. He added that it complements Prime-Ark® 45, a thorny primocane-fruiting blackberry released in 2009, as a quality product with good storage and shipping characteristics for commercial use.
Prime-Ark® Traveler’s yields sometimes do not match those of Prime-Ark® 45, Clark said, but its berry size is more uniform at 7 to 8 grams and is easier to pack in clamshell containers.
Traveler’s flavor and sweetness are very good, Clark said, and it has lower acidity than many other blackberries.
Clark said Prime-Ark® Traveler’s floricane yields — those berries that form on second-year canes — are very good. Yields on primocanes, or first-year canes, are sensitive to high heat that often occurs in late summer and fall in Arkansas.
“We’ve made some progress since the first primocane-fruiting blackberries were released in 2004,” Clark said. “But yields for those late-season berries continue to be a challenge.”
Clark said heat stress reduces flowering and fruit size and quality when daytime temperatures are 90 degrees and higher for five or more days.
Primocane-fruiting blackberries do better in areas with lower summer temperatures, Clark said. For commercial markets in Arkansas, he recommends Ouachita, Natchez and Osage blackberries, all more traditional floricane-fruiting varieties.
Clark said Prime-Ark® Traveler is just entering the marketplace and may not be available until late spring, and then only in limited quantities. More plants should be available later in 2015 and 2016.
Information about Prime-Ark® Traveler and other University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture blackberry varieties, as well as blueberries, grapes, peaches and nectarines, is available online: http://www.uaex.edu/farm-ranch/crops-commercial-horticulture/horticulture/fruits.aspx.