Advent of primocane blackberry tipped to shake up market sector

Primocane-fruiting blackberries could "revolutionise" the market sector for soft fruit, Spalding-based Hargreaves Plants director Jamie Petchell has said.

The nursery has an exclusive contract with the University of Arkansas in the US to test and commercialise the fruit, which is thought to be the world's first primocane-fruiting blackberry.

Petchell said: "Primocane blackberries will revolutionise this market sector. The improved selections we have seen already offer the possibility of dramatic season extension coupled with superb eating quality and potentially more efficient growing methods.

"We are close to releasing our first variety, but we already see much more improved material that will be fully tested before release in the medium term."

Hargreaves Plants held a presentation and field day at the end of last month to update growers, consultants, marketers and breeders on its primocane blackberry development.

Breeder Professor John Clark showed the visitors around the field to view the new selections.

Petchell said: "Standard floricane blackberries are available in short supply windows in a number of territories. The main varieties currently grown in the UK are Loch Ness and Chester."

He added: "This new material offers an improved eating experience over the industry-standard cultivars. Taking this higher-quality fruit and coupling it with season extension means that the UK market could grow significantly over the coming years.

"It is true to say that some of the standard UK varieties fail to deliver in the flavour stakes and as a result the industry is probably not getting the repeat fruit purchases that it should. We have seen a rapid expansion in blackberry fruit sales in the past five years, but this might only be the start of bigger things to come."

Hargreaves Plants has been collaborating with the University of Arkansas since 2005. Commercial director Rupert Hargreaves said: "We are privileged and proud to be working with what is considered to be the world's largest blackberry breeding programme.

"Professor Clark offers a real vision for improvements to blackberry genetics. The development of primocanes is a long-term project, but one that is already yielding excellent results."

He added: "In addition to the primocane material, Hargreaves Plants can also exclusively offer the best floricane cultivars from the same programme: Natchez, Ouachita and Navaho."


Subscribe to Horticulture Week for more news, more in-depth features and more technical and market info.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

What should growers make of the Government's migration report?

What should growers make of the Government's migration report?

By holding out the "possibility" of a seasonal agricultural workers scheme (SAWS), the Migration Advisory Committee's (MAC) long-awaited final report, published this week, makes an exception for fresh produce amid its wider call for a shift away from low-skill immigration.

Tractors: market roundup

Tractors: market roundup

Manufacturers are working to provide solutions to many challenges. Sally Drury looks at their newest models.

What does the Agriculture Bill mean for growers?

What does the Agriculture Bill mean for growers?

The publication of the Agriculture Bill this week formally kick-starts the Government's plans to implement a "green Brexit" for farming, the area of the economy most impacted by the UK's withdrawal from the EU from next March.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +

Horticulture Week Top UK FRUIT PRODUCERS

See our exclusive RANKING of UK Fruit Producers by annual turnover plus the FULL REPORT AND ANALYSIS.

Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon