sweetest blackberry variety
Organic Gardening

The Sweetest Blackberry Variety You’ll Want in Your Garden

When searching for blackberry varieties, sweetness is often a key factor for gardeners and anyone who loves fruit! There are numerous blackberry varieties available, each with unique characteristics and flavor profiles. Certain varieties are specifically renowned for their exceptional sweetness, making them a favored choice for fresh eating, desserts, and preserves. Sweetness in blackberries can be influenced by genetics, growing conditions and ripeness at harvest. As a result, there’s a considerable interest in identifying which variety takes the crown for being the sweetest.

Considering the available varieties, one standout is the Ponca blackberry, recognized for its significant sweetness. This particular cultivar has been noted to maintain its sweet flavor even when not fully ripe, which is a unique trait among blackberries. Other varieties such as Apache, known for its large sweet berries, and Darrow, praised for being one of the sweetest thorny varieties, also have a reputation for exceptional sweetness. Selecting the sweetest blackberry variety for your garden would depend on your specific climate, as some types have different cold hardiness and growing zone requirements.

Key Takeaways

  • Sweetness is a primary factor for many when choosing blackberry varieties.
  • Ponca is notable for its sweetness even when berries are not fully ripe.
  • Climate and growing zones impact the choice of blackberry variety.

This post is all about the sweetest blackberry variety.

How is the Sweetness Determined: The Brix Scale and More

When assessing the sweetness of blackberry varieties, it’s essential to understand the methods used to measure sugar content and the timing of harvest that can affect their taste.

Brix Scale Measurement

The Brix scale is a crucial indicator in determining the sugar content of blackberries. This measurement is taken using a device called a refractometer, which quantifies the percentage of sugar in the juice of the berries. During the measurement it looks at the measure of dissolved solids in a liquid. This method is commonly used in determining the amount of sugar in food. For example, a higher Brix value typically signifies a sweeter berry. Blackberries that score higher on the Brix scale are considered superior in sweetness. The scale measures from 0 to 100, and the measurement is known as a Brix degree, or °Bx.

[RELATED POST: The Best Sweet Tomatoes Varieties to Try This Summer]

Contributing Factors to Sweetness

Let’s take a look at the contributing factors to the flavor and sweetness of blackberries.


One of the contributing factors to sweetness is the variety’s genetics. If the variety doesn’t have the genes for sweetness, it won’t be a sweet piece of fruit. There is nothing you can really do if those genes aren’t present. The genes control a lot of what contributes to the overall flavor of the fruit. Not only does it affect sweetness, but it also affects attributes such as acidity levels, tartness, bitterness, and more.

We’ll get into a new variety produced by the University of Arkansas later in this post.

Weather Conditions and the Environment

Sunny weather and warm temperatures increase the rate of photosynthesis, which increases the sweetness of the fruit. Plants use photosynthesis which is a process that uses light, water, and carbon dioxide. This process then creates oxygen and energy while breaking down starches, to form sugar. If the weather becomes too hot, the berries become bitter. However bitterness may decrease as the berry ripens and after a heavy rain. Heavy rains dilute the compounds that contribute to a bitter taste since the plant uptakes more water.

Blackberries enjoy pretty acidic soil with a pH level between 4.5 and 6.5. They need well-draining soil and prefer either sandy or loamy soil.

Optimal Harvesting Time

The timing of when you pick blackberries can greatly influence their sweetness. To ensure peak sweetness, berries should be harvested when fully ripe – this is when their color has turned a deep, consistent black. Ripe blackberries are not only sweeter, but also softer and more flavorful. Since individual berries on a cluster may ripen at different times, it’s important to handpick them to gauge the perfect picking moment for each berry. Unripe fruit has a very sour taste to it.

Handling of the Blackberries After Harvest

How blackberries are handled after harvest can dramatically impact their sweetness and overall flavor. It can actually undo the growing conditions, genetics, and picking time. Elements that can contribute to this are temperature (fluctuations and cold chain handling) and how long they’ve been stored. The best time to eat a blackberry is when it’s picked right off the plant. The more time it’s been off the plant, the more it impacts its flavor and sweetness. The berry is less sweet than when it was initially picked.

Overview of Blackberry Varieties

When exploring blackberry varieties, you’ll notice distinct differences in taste and size. These characteristics are key to selecting the right blackberry for your palate and garden. We’ll first discuss flavor profiles of blackberries and what the sweetest variety is.

Flavor Profiles

Blackberries range in flavor from sweet to tart, Northwest Naturals describes the flavor as,

“Blackberry flavor is similar to a red grape but sweeter, deeper, and stronger. They are succulent, soft, and juicy, slightly tart with earthy undertones,” (R&D Innovations).

I would say this might be an accurate description of the taste. Similar to a red grape but add tartness.

The sweetest blackberry variety is Ponca. Even when not fully mature, Ponca blackberries retain a notable sweetness, which sets them apart from others. At the other end, Darrow blackberries are known for their exquisite sweetness and are a cold-hardy, thorny option.

Let’s dive into these sweet varieties!

Ponca Blackberry

As of the writing of this blog post, the sweetest blackberry variety out on the market is the Ponca blackberry. Back in 2019, the University of Arkansas released a new variety of blackberry from their fruit breeding program. It’s the 20th blackberry that was produced by the program.

“Ponca is a floricane-fruiting, producing flowers and fruit on second year canes… It’s thornless with berries that are on average 6.8 grams,” (Miller).

It can produce more than one crop, which is great for anyone looking to have more blackberries! The second harvest is said to come 14 to 20 days after the first harvest. It’s also said to be disease free, but I would take all necessary precautions to keep the plants as healthy as possible.

Ponca Blackberry Zone

This variety blooms in the spring and has white flowers. It’s fast growing and reaches 4 to 5 feet tall. It grows well in zones 5 to 8.

Apache Blackberry

There are other blackberries that deserve recognition for their sweetness. One such cultivar is the Apache. This fruit is also patented by the University of Arkansas. Their average sweetness on the Brix Scale is 10°Brix. The plant produces extra large sized fruit and is thornless. It also produces high yields. The canes grow very tall and stand at about 5 to 8 feet tall, with a width of 4 to 8 feet wide. They produce white blooms starting in early summer and continue all summer long.

Apache Blackberry Zone

This blackberry grows well in zones 5 to 9 and produces fruit on second year canes. Another great attribute is that they are self-pollinating.

Arapaho Blackberry

The Arapaho cultivar is another sweet variety you might consider trying. It has a Brix rating of 10°Brix. This blackberry is one of the earliest ripening blackberries which are ready to harvest in June. They’re very cold weather hardy and have no known issues with diseases.

Arapaho Blackberry

This cultivar can be planted in zones 3 to 7.

Caring for Blackberries

The proper caring of blackberries is key to having healthy plants. In the section below, I review a variety of topics from how to properly store the fruit once they’ve been harvested to how to properly prune the canes.

How to Clean Blackberries

To clean blackberries, start by placing them in a colander and rinsing them gently under cold running water. Be careful not to crush or bruise the delicate berries. Once rinsed, gently shake the colander to remove excess water. Pat the blackberries dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel if desired. Avoid soaking the berries as this can cause them to become waterlogged and lose their flavor. Finally, remove any stems or leaves that may still be attached. 

How to Freeze Blackberries

To freeze blackberries, start by gently rinsing them under cold running water in a colander. Once rinsed, lay them out on a clean kitchen towel to air dry or gently pat them dry with paper towels. Next, spread the blackberries out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, making sure they are not touching each other. Place the baking sheet in the freezer and let the blackberries freeze for a few hours or until they are firm. Once frozen, transfer the blackberries to a freezer-safe bag or container, removing as much air as possible before sealing. Label the bag or container with the date and store them in the freezer for up to six months. Frozen blackberries are perfect for adding to smoothies, baking, or enjoying as a refreshing snack.

How to Store Blackberries

To store blackberries, begin by carefully inspecting them for any moldy or squished berries, removing any that are damaged. Next, transfer the blackberries to a shallow container lined with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Avoid stacking the berries too deeply to prevent crushing. Cover the container loosely with a lid or plastic wrap, allowing some airflow to prevent moisture buildup. Store the container in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer, where the temperature is slightly cooler and more consistent. Blackberries are best consumed within a few days of purchase for optimal freshness and flavor. If you need to store them for longer, consider freezing them following the steps for freezing blackberries.

Do Blackberries Need to Be Refrigerated?

No, blackberries do not necessarily have to be refrigerated. If you’re not planning to refrigerate them, they should be eaten right away. Blackberries spoil very quickly at room temperature. If you don’t plan on eating them right away, they should be refrigerated. However, even in the refrigerator they spoil quickly (in a matter of a few days). Make sure the container is well ventilated for air circulation.

Pruning Blackberries

Pruning is another key step to keeping your plants nice and healthy. The canes need to be trimmed either in early spring or late winter. Remove any damaged, diseased canes, or if they are overly crowded. Canes that are overly crowded can be more susceptible to disease for a couple of reasons. There is poor air circulation and the canes can rub against one another. This friction can damage the cane and open it up to all sorts of issues.

Trim any side branches so they are only 12 to 15 inches long. This helps redirect energy to the plant and it can focus on producing fruit.

During the summer, pinch back or cut off the tops of any new canes. At the end of the growing season, cut the canes down to soil level.

What is the Best Fertilizer for Blackberries?

It’s important to know that blackberries aren’t heavy feeders. Too much fertilizer won’t promote fruit growth. Instead the plant will focus on wood and leaf growth. Blackberries enjoy slightly acidic soil. Before applying fertilizer, test the soil first. The soil pH should be between 5.8 and 6.8.

Some of the best fertilizers for blackberries can be found right on Amazon. Here are some for you to look into:

How to Propagate Blackberries

Propagating blackberries is a super simple process. It’s known as tip rooting and does not involve any cutting. Simply take the tip of one of the canes and pull it down to the ground. Cover the tip of the cane with soil.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we’ll explore common queries about the sweetness of blackberry varieties, from the factors affecting their sugar content to specific varieties recommended for cultivating the sweetest berries at home.

When do Blackberries Bloom?

Blackberries bloom between the months of April to June. 

What are the Companion Plants for Blackberries?

Companion plants are so important for the health of the vegetable garden in general. Here are some popular companion plants that you can consider planting:

  • Garlic
  • Peas
  • Thyme
  • Apple trees
  • Chives
  • Beans
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries

What’s the Difference Between Blackberries vs Black Raspberries?

Blackberries and black raspberries are often confused due to their similar appearance, but they belong to different species within the Rubus genus. Blackberries (Rubus fruticosus) are larger and have a glossy black color with a sweeter, juicier flavor. They typically have a core in the center when picked. 

On the other hand, black raspberries (Rubus occidentalis) are smaller and have a more matte appearance with a deep purplish-black color. They are sweeter than blackberries but possess a distinct tartness. Black raspberries have a hollow core when picked, distinguishing them from blackberries. Additionally, black raspberries are more fragile and have a shorter shelf life compared to blackberries.

blackberry vs black raspberry
blackberry vs black raspberry

What’s the Difference Between Mulberries vs Blackberries?

Mulberries and blackberries are distinct fruits with differences in appearance, taste, and growing habits. Mulberries come from the Morus genus and are typically smaller, elongated, and have a variety of colors, including red, black, and white. They have a sweet, mild flavor reminiscent of a blend between strawberries and figs. Mulberries are often found on deciduous trees and can be eaten fresh, dried, or used in various culinary dishes. In contrast, blackberries belong to the Rubus genus and are larger with a glossy black color when ripe. They have a sweet-tart flavor profile and are commonly used in pies, jams, and desserts. Blackberries grow on thorny bushes and have a more rugged appearance compared to the delicate mulberry fruit. Overall, while both fruits are delicious, mulberries offer a unique taste and growing experience distinct from blackberries.

blackberry vs mulberry

Do Blackberries have Seeds?

Yes, blackberries do have seeds. In fact, blackberries are aggregate fruits composed of many small drupelets, each containing a seed. These seeds are edible and are dispersed throughout the fruit’s flesh. While some people may prefer seedless varieties, the seeds are typically small and soft, posing no significant inconvenience to most consumers.

What’s the Difference Between Dewberries vs Blackberries?

Dewberries and blackberries are closely related members of the Rubus genus but have distinct differences. Dewberries, scientifically known as Rubus trivialis or Rubus flagellaris, are smaller and more delicate than blackberries, with a sweeter flavor profile. They often grow closer to the ground on trailing vines and are typically found in more temperate regions. Dewberries also tend to ripen earlier in the season than blackberries. 

In contrast, blackberries, belonging to the Rubus fruticosus species, are larger, sturdier, and grow on upright bushes with thorny stems. They have a slightly tart flavor and are typically harvested later in the season. While both fruits are similar in appearance and taste, their growth habits and ripening times distinguish them from each other.

How to Tell if Blackberries are Bad?

You can easily tell if blackberries are bad by observing their appearance, texture, and smell. When blackberries go bad, they may develop mold, become mushy, or have a sour smell. Moldy blackberries will have fuzzy white or green spots on them, indicating spoilage. If the blackberries appear overly soft, mushy, or discolored, they have likely begun to spoil. Fresh blackberries should be firm, plump, and uniformly colored. If they have a strong sour or off-putting odor, it’s a sign that they are no longer safe to eat. It’s best to discard any blackberries that show signs of spoilage to avoid consuming potentially harmful bacteria or mold.

What factors affect the sweetness of blackberry varieties?

The sweetness of blackberry varieties is influenced by factors such as genetics, ripeness at harvest, climatic conditions, and soil quality. The right balance of sunshine and water also plays a crucial role in developing their natural sugars.

Which blackberry varieties have the highest sugar content?

Varieties like ‘Apache’ are known for their very sweet berries and are among the largest blackberries, suggesting a higher sugar content.

Are there any notable differences in taste between thornless and traditional blackberry varieties?

Thornless blackberries, such as ‘Triple Crown’, are not only easier to handle but also prized for their flavor, which is comparable to traditional varieties, with sweetness being a defining characteristic for many cultivars.

How does the Triple Crown blackberry compare in sweetness to other types?

The ‘Triple Crown’ blackberry stands out for its flavor and productivity, offering large, sweet, and firm berries with small seeds—a preferred choice for both commercial and home gardening due to its excellent taste.

Can the nutritional content of blackberries give an indication of their sweetness?

While nutritional content like vitamin C and fiber is often highlighted, it’s the fructose level in blackberries that contributes to their sweetness. Generally, a variety with higher sugar content will taste sweeter.

For home gardening, the ‘Ouachita’ variety is recommended as a great thornless option, producing good yields of medium-sized, sweet berries. Factors like soil quality and climate suitability should also be considered for the best results.

This post is all about the sweetest blackberry variety.


R&D Innovations (2022, Jul.) Blackberry: A Summer Flavor Essential. Northwest Naturals. https://www.nwnaturals.com/blackberry-a-summer-flavor-essential/#:~:text=Flavor%20Profiles,slightly%20tart%20with%20earthy%20undertones.

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