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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1133: XI International Rubus and Ribes Symposium

Establishment of primocane blackberry cultivars in a northern climate

Authors:   A. Debner, H. Hatterman-Valenti
Keywords:   high tunnel, primocane, blackberry, northern climates, soft-tipping
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1133.30
Abstract:
Floricane-fruiting blackberries (Rubus subgenus Rubus) are not considered winter-hardy in northern climates due to low temperature flower bud death. The recent introduction of primocane-fruiting blackberry cultivars may enable blackberry production in northern climates such as North Dakota. However, since early fall frosts can decrease yield potential, the ability to extend the fruiting season or hasten ripening would benefit growers. Four primocane-fruiting cultivars, 'Prime-Jim', 'Prime-Jan', 'Prime-Ark 45', and 'Prime-Ark Freedom' were evaluated during their first growing season in Fargo, North Dakota in bare soil, silver plastic reflective mulch, and a high tunnel. Primocanes were subjected to three tipping treatments to determine the impact on growth and flower initiation and included no tipping, single soft-tipping and double soft-tipping. Winter survival and spring primocane emergence were also determined. Double-tipping reduced plant height regardless of cultivar, while 'Prime-Ark Freedom' tended to be the tallest cultivar. The double-tipped plants also produced fewer primocanes than the control in 'Prime-Jim' and 'Prime-Jan'. Cultivars differed for end-of-season biomass production with greater fresh weight for 'Prime-Ark 45' than 'Prime-Jim' and 'Prime-Jan'. 'Prime-Ark Freedom' produced fewer terminal blossoms than other cultivars. No differences were found between cultivars for winter survival, but differences in primocane emergence did occur. Further research will continue to evaluate growth as well as yield performance.

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