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Sherri Sanders
Extension Agent - Agriculture

Phone: 501-268-5394
Fax: 501-279-6247
Email: ssanders@uaex.edu

Office:
White County Extension
411 North Spruce
Searcy, AR  72143
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Home Garden Berries in Arkansas

Growing small fruit crops in the home garden can be a pleasurable and rewarding experience.

Arkansas Fruit and Nut News | Dr. Donn JohnsonSmall fruits can be grown in a selected garden area or used in landscape design to add an aesthetic touch while producing flavorful and nutritious fruit. Most small fruit crops require a minimum amount of space for planting compared to the quantity of fruit produced. In addition, many small fruit crops will begin producing fruit one or two years after planting.

Home fruit growers should be aware of potential problems that can occur with small fruit crops. Fruit diseases, insect pests, birds, and weather extremes can cause losses and reduce fruit quality. Success with small fruit crops in the home garden will depend on the attention given to all phases of production including variety selection, soil management, fertilization, pruning, and pest control.

See our Arkansas Small Fruit Management Schedule for more information.

It is important to plant only what you can care for properly. A small, well-tended planting is better and will produce more fruit of higher quality than a large neglected planting.

The small fruit crops recommended for home fruit production in Arkansas are blackberry, blueberry, grape, muscadine, raspberry, and strawberry.

Cultivar versus Variety?

  • Blackberries | Fruits & Nuts | Arkansas ExtensionBlackberries & Raspberries

    Blackberries | Fruits & Nuts | Arkansas ExtensionBlackberries are a native crop to Arkansas and many areas of the United States.

    Unlike many fruit crops, blackberries can be grown with little to no pesticide use in the home garden and require fewer inputs in commercial production.

    Wide adaptation to soil type is found with blackberries. The preferred soil pH is 5.5 to 6.5.

    Good drainage is required. Plants should not be grown in sites where water stands for long periods.

    Thorns:  To Be or Not To Be

    Blackberry | Fruits & Nuts | Arkansas ExtensionThe University of Arkansas has spent a great deal of time and effort with its fruit breeding program developing blackberry cultivars that have become the standard worldwide. All of the blackberry cultivars developed by the University of Arkansas have been named after Native American Indian tribes.

    The University of Arkansas' cultivars, both thorny and thornless, have been shown to be adapted statewide. They are upright in growth habit and should be grown in a hedgerow-type system. They do not require the trellising system used for trailing and semi-erect varieties. These cultivars are floricane-fruiting, thus the canes must be overwintered for fruiting the second year.

    The University of Arkansas patented blackberry cultivars are available from licensed blackberry propagators.

    Recommended University of Arkansas Cultivars for Home Gardens
    Thorny Thornless
    'Chickasaw'
    'Choctaw'
    'Kiowa'
    'Shawnee'
    'Apache'
    'Arapaho'
    'Natchez'
    'Navaho'
    'Osage'
    'Ouachita'

    What is a primocane-fruiting blackberry?

    Prime-Ark 45 Blackberries | Fruit & Nuts | Arkansas ExtensionThe primocane-fruiting blackberry fruits on current-season canes. This new type of blackberry could greatly change blackberry production.  The first commercial primocane-fruiting blackberry cultivars were released by the University of Arkansas in 2004. 

    YouTube ArExtension Prime-Ark 45
    with Dr. John Clark | University Professor - Horticulture | University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

     

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  • Blueberries | Fruits & Nuts | Arkansas ExtensionBlueberries

    Blueberries - before shot | The Learning Farm| Commercial Fruits & Nuts | Farm & Ranch | Arkansas ExtensionIn Arkansas, northern highbush blueberries are grown in the northern counties, and rabbiteyes are grown in more central and southern areas. 

    Southern highbush evaluations and limited commercial production have begun in the traditional rabbiteye areas of Arkansas, and two southern highbush cultivars have been introduced.

    A fundamental need in blueberry production is an acid soil, with a pH of 4.8 to 5.4 preferable in Arkansas, and a soil that is of a light texture. Sandy loam is preferred but not an absolute requirement. A recommended practice is the addition of peat moss at a rate of one to two gallons per plant to the planting hole at planting, along with mulching with an organic material such as pine straw, sawdust or wood chips. A mixture of sawdust and wood chips is preferable.

    Irrigation is a must for plant survival and productivity.

    Blueberries | Fruits & Nuts | Arkansas ExtensionBlueberries usually fruit the third season after planting. Flower buds will develop on second-year plants, but it is best to remove these to encourage plant growth in the second season. Pest control on blueberries is minimal, and routine fungicide and insecticide applications are not commonly needed. Bird control is the major issue, particularly on small plantings. Netting or scaring devices are two options to consider.

    Which blueberry type or variety to plant is a fundamental issue. This is largely dictated by location, with northern highbush adapted to the upper South and northward, rabbiteyes from the mid-South and southward and southern highbush from the upper South and southward.

    The University of Arkansas patented blackberry cultivar 'Ozarkblue' is available from licensed blueberry propagators.

    'Ozarkblue' Blueberries

    Type - Southern highbush.

    Date of Release - 1996; plant patent #10,035.

    Area of Adaptation - Areas of traditional rabbiteye production in Arkansas and as far south as I-20 in other southern states is the anticipated area of adaptation.

    Maturity Date - Approximately June 10 at Clarksville, Arkansas, and June 5 at Hope, Arkansas; ripening date is usually 7 to 10 days before Climax rabbiteye blueberry.

    Berry Size - Large, averaging 1.8 to 2.4 grams/berry.

    Berry Color/Scar - Excellent light color; stem scar rated very high (indicating a small stem scar and limited to no tearing of the fruit skin at the point of attachment).

    Berry Flavor - Sweet and subacid.

    Yield - Very high in research trials, up to 15 pounds/plant on four- and five-year-old plants. 

    Plant Vigor - Moderate to high vigor, and more vigorous than all other southern highbush varieties in research plantings.

    Comments - Chilling requirement is estimated to be approximately 800 hours (hours below 45 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter); very consistent cropping even in years when rabbiteye blueberry crops were lost to freeze or frost and 'Ozarkblue' breaks bud and blooms later than other southern highbush.

    'Summit' Blueberries

    Type - Southern highbush.

    Date of Release - 1998; not patented.

    Area of Adaptation - Areas of traditional rabbiteye production in Arkansas, and as far south as I-20 in other southern states is the anticipated area of adaptation.

    Maturity Date - Approximately June 7 at Clarksville, Arkansas, and May 28 at Hope, Arkansas.

    Berry Size - Large, averaging 1.8 to 2.2 grams/berry.

    Berry Color/Scar - Excellent light color; stem scar rated very high (indicating a small stem scar and limited to no tearing of the fruit skin at the point of attachment).

    Berry Flavor - Sweet and flavorful.

    Yield - High in research trials, up to 8 to 10 pounds/plant on four- and five-year-old plants.

    Plant Vigor - Moderate vigor, and more vigorous than most other southern highbush varieties in research plantings.

    Comments - A cooperative release with North Carolina State University and the USDA; chilling requirement is estimated to be lower than 'Ozarkblue' and is approximately 600 hours (hours below 45 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter); breaks bud and blooms earlier than 'Ozarkblue' but has had consistent cropping even in most years when rabbiteye blueberry crops were lost to freeze.

     

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  • Strawberries | Fruits & Nuts | Arkansas ExtensionStrawberries

     Strawberries | Fruits & Nuts | Arkansas ExtensionIn Arkansas, strawberries are favorites in home gardens. The bright red, flavorful fruit are picked from April thru June in our state. Strawberries can be produced as “annuals” – which means only one year of production – if special cultivars like 'Chandler' are planted in the fall on raised beds then picked one time the following spring, then start over. They can also be produced as “perennials” or “matted-row production” by planting cultivars like 'Cardinal' in the fall either on beds or in rows. These types will produce their first crop the following spring but will produce more abundantly the second spring and thereafter. These perennial plants can last at least 7 years if maintained, and will produce many baby plants each season to renew the field.

     

    Learn How To...

    FSA6130 Choose the Best Strawberry Cultivar to Plant
    Small Fruit Cultivar Recommendations for Arkansas
    FSA6103 Grow Strawberries in Arkansas
    Strawberry Production in the Home Garden
    NCSU Cooperative Extension Grow with Plasticulture
    Plasticulture Production  NCSU Cooperative Extension
     MP467 Control Pests
    Arkansas Small Fruit Management Schedule
    MP144 Control Pests - Insecticides
    Insecticide Recommendations for Arkansas | Strawberries
    MP154 Control Disease
    Arkansas Plant Disease Control Products Guide | Small Fruit Diseases - Home Garden
    FSA7528 Control Disease - Gray Mold
    Gray Mold - A Silent Strawberry Nemesis (color)
    MP44 Control Weeds
    Recommended Chemicals for Weed and Brush Control for Arkansas | Fruits & Nuts
    FCS506 Enjoy the Harvest!
    Arkansas Fresh: Strawberries (color)