FAYETTEVILLE, AR—Introducing 'Natchez', the twelfth release in a series of erect-growing, high-quality, productive, floricane-fruiting blackberry (Rubus L. subgenus Rubus Watson) cultivars developed by the University of Arkansas.
John R. Clark and James N. Moore of the Department of Horticulture at the University of Arkansas introduced 'Natchez' in the October 2008 issue of the American Society of Horticultural Science's journal HortScience. According to Clark, the new blackberry is a result of a cross of Ark. 2005 and Ark. 1857 made in 1998. The original plant was selected in 2001 from a seedling field at the University of Arkansas Fruit Research Station in Clarksville, and tested as selection Ark. 2241.
'Natchez' produces large fruit, near 9 grams on average in research trials. Fruit of 'Natchez' are elongated, somewhat blocky, and very attractive with an exceptional glossy, black finish.
'Natchez' exceeded postharvest performance of 'Arapaho' in most years. This is noteworthy, explain the researchers, because the comparison cultivars are considered to have exceptional shelf life. 'Natchez' is recommended for commercial shipping production, and is targeted as a replacement for the early season 'Arapaho'.
Outstanding characteristics of 'Natchez' include early fruit-ripening date, high fruit quality, consistent high yields, large fruit size, and excellent postharvest fruit-handling potential. Superior plant characteristics include thornless, erect to semierect canes and good vigor and health. 'Natchez' also shows good potential for home garden use.
'Natchez' is expected to perform well in areas where 'Apache', 'Arapaho', 'Ouachita', or 'Navaho' are adapted, including all areas of the South and into the Midwest, in addition to the West and Pacific Northwest.
An application for a U.S. plant patent has been filed for 'Natchez'.
The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site: http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/full/43/6/1897
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