Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Purple Raspberries & Blackberries Ripening

  Purple raspberries have just started ripening.  They'll be numerous from about June17 to July 12.  Purple raspberries are hybrids between red raspberries and black raspberries (two different native species).  They have hybrid vigor, producing large amounts of larger fruit, with flavor that's a blend of red and black.
  We grow 'Royalty' purple raspberry, which is actually a hybrid of a red raspberry and a purple raspberry, so it's 3/4 red raspberry and 1/4 black raspberry.  This variety is resistant to the aphid vector of raspberry mosaic virus, so it never gets this virus, and plantings last longer than virus-susceptible raspberry varieties.  'Royalty' fruit are very large, and are excellent for fresh eating, jam, freezing, etc.
'Royalty' purple raspberries are just starting to ripen.  They can be picked at the red-purple stage (large fruit in center) for firm mild-tasting fruit, or the deep purple stage (far right) for softer, full-flavored fruit.

  Our red raspberries are still producing very heavily, and the 'Jewel' black raspberries are also ripe now.
  Our earliest thornless blackberries, 'Natchez', are just starting to color, so they'll be ripe in 3 or 4 days.  The -17 F cold in early Feb. killed back the fruiting canes of all our blackberry varieties, since thornless varieties are less cold-hardy than the wild thorny blackberries.  So we had to prune all 1400 plants all over again, cutting back to the live side branches.
This photo, taken 5/7/11, shows the damage to 'Triple Crown' thornless blackberry fruiting canes by last Feb.'s -17 F freeze.  We've since pruned back all the dead floricanes to live side branches.
This photo, taken during blackberry bloom in late May, shows the planting after all damaged fruiting canes were cut back.

  So this year's thornless blackberry crop will be lower than usual, both in quantity and stature.  The berries are still very nice, much larger and sweeter than wild blackberries, but most of them will be at waist height and below.