Natchez is a new variety of floricane blackberry bred at the University of Arkansas, USA, which crops early in the season, and has the characteristic semi-upright, spine-free growing habit of other varieties from this breeding program. The yield of fruit is twice that of its’ sister variety Arapaho, and it has a consistent average berry weight of 9g. Chilling hours required to ensure the correct amount of dormancy has occurred is 400-500 hours which is roughly translated as the number of hours at a temperature of 7°C or below. This cold treatment induces flowers and therefore potential yield for the next season.
Since the plants are semi-upright, the planting density can be increased, so more plants can be planted in the available space, thus increasing yield potential. If planting directly into soil then 0.5m between plants is suitable, meanwhile spacing for potted plants can be slightly less. The traditional varieties often have trailling canes, which take up more space as they need to be trained to wires (see Fig. 1 below where A illustrates the traditional method and B shows the more upright plant type).
Brix measurements, acidity levels and taste panels are good measurements for flavour, and work carried out last season showed that the number of volatiles and flavonoids in blackberries to build the intense fruit flavour can be as many as 147 different naturally occurring chemicals. The average °Brix for Natchez is 10.0, indicating good sweetness.