Berry varieties worthy of trial

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included. 

Newer berry varieties often require many years to fully test and recommend for commercial plantings. However, growers may want to purchase a few plants of promising new varieties to see if they fit on their farm. Here are a few types that are too new to recommend for large-scale planting, but have shown enough potential to plant on a trial basis.

Strawberries

New strawberry varieties become available regularly, but fewer trials are conducted to compare them today. Popular commercial varieties for Michigan growers include Annapolis, Honeoye, Cavendish, Allstar and Jewel. Sable and Brunswick are two newer early season varieties that are worthy of trial. Darselect and L’Amour are good mid-season varieties for trial. Newer late season types suggested for trial include Cabot, Mira and Ovation.

Day-neutral strawberries are types that can initiate flowers and produce fruit from June to October. In Michigan, these varieties tend to produce a flush of fruit in June and September, but produce little in mid-summer because temperatures are too high. Tribute and Tristar are two older day-neutral varieties that have performed moderately. Two newer types worthy of trial are Seascape and Everest. Both produce larger berries than Tribute or Tristar, although the plants may be less hardy.

Fall-fruiting raspberries

The recommended fall-fruiting (primocane-fruiting) raspberries for Michigan are Heritage, Autumn Bliss and Autumn Britten. Caroline is a promising newer type to try on a trial basis. It begins fruiting between Heritage and Autumn Bliss and is very productive and somewhat tolerant of gray mold. Jaclyn is a very new variety that we have not tested in Michigan. It also is worth testing because it is very early fruiting.

Summer-fruiting raspberries

Recommended varieties for Michigan have been Boyne, Canby and Latham. Two very promising early fruiting types are Nova and Prelude. Both appear hardy even for colder locations in the Lower Peninsula. Prelude is very early and produces some fall berries in southern Michigan. Two new late season types that have promise are Encore and K81-6. Encore may suffer some winter injury in very cold locations.

Blackberries

Blackberries have not been tested extensively in Michigan, so our information is limited. Fully hardy types are the thorny upright varieties Darrow and Illini Hardy. Several others offer improved berry size and yield potential, but they all appear marginally hardy, meaning they will suffer considerable winter injury if not on good “fruit sites.” Chester Thornless, Triple Crown and Loch Nes are very productive, thornless, semi-erect types that would be good choices for a small test planting in southern Michigan or for protected sites along the Lake in northern Michigan. Apache and Arapaho are upright, thornless types that may tolerate protected sites in southern Michigan. In addition, two fall-fruiting blackberry varieties have been released; PrimeJim and PrimeJan. Although these are not high quality varieties, they may be of interest to some farm-marketers as a novelty. Fall berries appear to ripen along with Heritage red raspberries.

Dr. Hanson’s work is funded in part by MSU‘s AgBioResearch.

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