2-gallon sized potted blackberry plant
This is a new release from the University of Arkansas, and is a trailing cultivar like Triple Crown. Given room, it will yield more fruit per plant than the upright cultivars are capable of producing. Very large, long berries are produced very early in the season, just after Arapaho has started to ripen. Fruit harvest will last up to 4 weeks. Berries need to be full ripe for best sweetness and flavor, though this is true for all blackberries. Full ripe is when the berries turn from shiny black to dull black, and also become softer. This is one main reason shipped blackberries are generally tart, because they are picked a little under-ripe so that they are more firm for shipping. Home-grown blackberries can ripen on the cane and be picked at the peak of perfection. As a trailing cultivar, Natchez does require a trellis or stake system to support its vigorous canes and fruit load. Tip canes when the reach 6-7 feet in length.
USDA Hardiness Zones 5b-9
Update on Natchez for 2012 growing season:
With our late freeze in April (getting down to 20F two nights in a row, a real hammer when plants are flowering), most of the Natchez crop was wiped out. But, it re-bloomed (at about 50 percent of original bloom volume) and made the highest quality blackberry crop of all cultivars we grow.
I was very impressed by the size of the berry, the sweetness, and the amount of harvest we had from our 3 year old planting. Berries were borne under the primocane foliage, close to the ground, so were shielded from the 100F, scorching summer we’ve had here in IN. No sunscald damage at all. Good nutrition and irrigation in 2011, along with its breeding, gave us a rewarding second chance crop for 2012.
Update on Natchez for 2013 growing season:
A cool spring, very wet, and good early growth on all blackberries. Blooming weather was great, sunny with enough warmth for the bumble bees that do most of our pollinating. No real dry spells into early summer, and Natchez is cropping on June 25, with the main harvest of its crop coming in June 29-July 2. I’ve never harvested full ripe blackberries this early. Arapaho, our usual first to ripen, is still in the red stage, maybe 2 weeks behind Natchez. Very impressive berry size, especially as I never got around to fertilizing the blackberries this spring. Natchez has also produced the longest blackberries I’ve ever harvested, and flavor is sweet at the dull black stage. I’m very impressed with this cultivar (in its third year of production here on our farm), and I plan on increasing its roll in our blackberry production.