3 Marionberry Varieties (Varieties and Important Facts You Need To Know)

Boxes of marionberries at a market.

With a nuanced and rich earthy flavor that avoids the bitterness found in many blackberries, the Marionberry is recognized as the queen of blackberries. Many tasters notice a similarity between marionberries and Cabernet grapes’ rich earthy juiciness. It’s sweeter and juicier than Evergreen blackberries, which may be found in wild brambles all across the West Coast. It’s a huge blackberry with a color range of very dark red to genuine black.

The Marionberry was created in 1945 at Oregon State University by crossing a Chehalem blackberry (which has native blackberry, Loganberry, and raspberry in its background) with an Olallieberry (which is also a blackberry cross) and was named after Marion County in Oregon. Berry breeders still consider Marionberries to be the blackberry to beat.

The flavor of these sweet-tart berries is deep and wonderful. Vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber are abundant in this conical-shaped fruit. “Marion blackberry” is another name for it. This popular berry is wonderful in pies, jams, jellies, and syrups and is prized in many areas. The plant grows in a trailing fashion. Native blackberries, raspberries, and loganberries are ancestors.

Types of Marionberries

Boxes of marionberries.

Marionberry is a blackberry variety, so it doesn’t have a lot of variants of its own. In Australia, only Silvanberry, a hybrid with boysenberry, is available. Sylvanberry plants, which belong to the blackberry family, have many traits with other blackberry kinds. These perennials are tough and cold resistant, easy to grow, and prolific spreaders with a lifespan of 15 to 20 years.

According to another study, the marionberry plant is prickly, and thorns can infiltrate the product when it is machine-harvested, resulting in poor product quality. As a result, a key priority of the breeding program has been to create cultivars that are thornless, machine-harvestable, and retain Marion’s superior processing attributes.

So far, three thornless blackberry cultivars have been discovered with these characteristics: Black Diamond, Black Pearl, and Nightfall.

More Information on Marionberry

Marionberries are sometimes known as caneberries, a variety of blackberries with a limited number of long (up to 20 feet (6 meters) but productive canes. This hardy cultivar can provide up to 6 tonnes of fruit per acre (5443 kg).

The Caneberry Capital of the World, the Willamette Valley in Oregon, has ideal climatic conditions for marionberry production. Marionberry growing conditions are ideal for delicious, plump fruit, with lush spring showers and summers that are warm during the day and cold at night. Near Salem, Oregon, 90 percent of the world’s marionberries are grown.

With a rich berry flavor, plump juiciness, and high levels of Vitamin C, gallic acid, and rutin – antioxidants that are said to be cancer fighters and aid in circulation – the hybrid captures the best of the two crossed species. The berries also have high fiber content and a low-calorie count, with only 65-80 calories per cup!

Furthermore, the berries of marionberry plants freeze wonderfully and retain their shape and texture when thawed.

What Is the Best Way to Grow Marionberries?

It’s difficult to resist the attraction of producing their own marionberries because they have such a strong flavor, are appealing to look at, and are so prolific.

Marionberries, unlike most blackberries, are trailing vine that produces only a few vines or canes per planting. These canes, on the other hand, can reach a height of 20 feet and generate fruiting branches for the majority of their length.

Although marionberries are technically roses, their thorns are significantly denser and sharper than those of a rose shrub. When working with plants, one should wear a long-sleeved shirt, leather gloves, and long pants.

It’s worth noting that marionberries only ripen in the spring and early summer. July is the busiest month for production, and it concludes in early August. The berries should be hand-picked when growing for household use, ideally early in the morning.

Planting

Marionberries should be cultivated in a location that receives full sun and is free of standing water. Although the plants can handle little shade, they do best in full sun for at least 7-8 hours per day. The soil should have good drainage and a somewhat acidic pH.

Dig in and turn the soil to a depth of 6-12 inches before planting. Remove any debris and level the ground to the best of your ability. Adding good organic manure, peat moss, chopped hay, or compost to the soil throughout the autumn improves soil texture and drainage, which benefits the crop. Marionberries should be planted in raised beds or even big containers if the soil is very heavy or has poor water drainage.

The marionberries should be planted in the early spring, an inch up from the base, but not covering the crown of the plant. The root ball should be at least twice the size of the hole. The earth should be firmly tamped around the plant, and the plant should be well hydrated. Plants should be spaced 3-4 feet apart, and rows should be spaced 6 feet apart.

To protect the plants from wind damage and make harvesting easier, stake and wire trellises are required. Place each set of stakes 4-5 feet apart, with 2-3 tough wires tied between them. One wire should be 5 feet tall, and the other should be 18 inches lower than the first.

Watering

2The plant should be thoroughly watered to ensure that any air pockets around the root ball are filled.

The soil can then be mulched with 2-3 inches of pine needle compost to help retain moisture and prevent weed growth.

The plants should be well hydrated during the growing season, especially during dry seasons.

The plants need about 1-2 inches of water per week during this time of year. It’s best to use a dripping water system that provides water at low pressure to the soil level.

If overhead sprinklers are used to the water, watering should be done early in the day so that the foliage has time to dry before nighttime to prevent disease spread. It is important to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.

If you have red raspberries in your garden, marionberries should be planted at least 100 feet away.

Fertilizing

When growing marionberries at home, dry manure pellets should be used to fertilize the plants. These pellets will degrade over time, gradually releasing nutrients and maintaining appropriate pH levels. This type of manure is applied in the early spring and late autumn.

NPK fertilizers are applied twice a year, once in the spring and once in the summer.

It’s also a good idea to dig in some compost or humus 2-3 times each year in the top layer of the soil and cover it with a mulch if possible.

To thrive, marionberries require an adequate amount of nitrogen fertilizer. As a new plant appears in the spring, 2 pounds of urea fertilizer per 100 feet of row should be sprinkled if needed. The plant’s crown, which is below the earth, will produce the majority of new growth. In June, apply a second application of 2 pounds of urea fertilizer. Plants expend a lot of energy when they begin to grow in the spring. Therefore they should not be allowed to dry up. A nitrogen deficit is usually indicated by little yellow or pale leaves.

Pruning

Pruning should not be done in the first year except to remove damaged, dead, or diseased timber.

5 to 10 of the most vigorous new canes should be picked every spring, depending on the plant’s strength, growing conditions, and marionberry variety, and all other canes should be cut – one-year-old canes will bear fruit the next year.

Canes that bear fruit in their second summer should be removed and destroyed promptly, as they will never bear again.

Getting Rid of Weeds

Weeds should be controlled during the marionberry growth season because they compete with the plants for water, nutrients, and space. Mulch can be used to manage weeds by preventing their seeds from sprouting.

Mulch should be added as needed each year.

Harvesting and Keeping

Summer, i.e., July, August, or September, is the marionberry fruiting season.

When the berries are on the plant, they are glossy and dark, almost black in color. When they’re collected and processed, though, they turn a dark purple tint.

Fruit does not ripen once it is plucked, so wait until it is totally ripe before plucking. Although the red fruit will become black as it ripens, it should not be harvested until it has turned black. Wait 3-4 days before picking the berries when the color becomes a little dull. This fruit will be the most delicious. It’s best to pick it early in the morning or late in the evening when the weather is at its coolest.

Freshly picked homegrown berries should be stored in a shallow container in the refrigerator right once. They should be rinsed and dried on a clean paper towel before keeping.

Fresh marionberries will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator. They can, however, be frozen or used in preserves. Harvest should occur at least twice a week for several weeks.

Marionberry plants are delicate and should be handled with caution. Strong winds should be avoided, and plants should be winterized by covering them with straw or other similar material to protect them from frost damage.

Typical Pest and Cultural Issues

Aphids: Sucking insects that feed on the undersides of leaves and can spread illness. They come in greenish, red, black, or peach colors. On the foliage, they create a sticky residue that attracts ants. Burpee suggests introducing or attracting natural aphid predators to your gardens, such as lady beetles and wasps. You can also use an insecticidal soap or a powerful spray to get rid of them.

Borers: 1 inch long worms with creamy bodies and brown heads. Clear-winged moths with black and yellow bands adorn the bodies of the adults. The larvae burrow into the canes, causing lateral growth to slow and the canes to die. Prune and eliminate affected canes, according to Burpee.

Japanese Beetles: Pick into a bucket of soapy water first thing in the morning.

Leafhoppers: energetic, slender, wedge-shaped insects that come in many colors of green, yellow, and brown. They leave pale, curled leaves as well as secretions on plants and fruit. They have the ability to transmit diseases. Try insecticidal soaps, as Burpee suggests. For help with pest control, contact your county’s Cooperative Extension Service.

Spider mites: a type of mite found on spiders. The bugs are roughly the size of a grain of pepper and look like spiders. Red, black, brown, or yellow are all possibilities. They suck the plant juices, eliminating chlorophyll and injecting poisons, resulting in white spots on the leaf. Webbing can be seen on the plant rather frequently. The leaves become yellow and become dry and stippled as a result of their presence. They reproduce rapidly and thrive in arid environments.

Problems with Common Disease

Anthracnose: a fungus that forms purple patches on canes and can grow to cover the stem. Spots, which are yellow with purple edges, can appear on young yellow leaves and produce holes in them. It’s possible that the stems and canes will die off. Remove sick canes and any leaf debris, according to Burpee.

Crown Gall: Rough, wart-like growths or galls form on the crown near the soil surface or just below it. On the stems and canes of marionberries, they can also form. Drought stress and wind damage can cause plants to grow stunted. Galls that are large enough can induce girdling and plant death. Burpee advises looking over the canes for any signs of galls before planting. Protect the plant from harm. If the gall is tiny enough, you can remove it by cutting around it into healthy wood and allowing it to dry out, as little as possible cutting into healthy tissue. Remove the plant if it is badly affected.

Orange Rust: a fungus that causes plants to become stunted and feeble, resulting in low fruit output. New shoots appear weak and spindly shortly after new growth emerges in the spring, and leaves turn a pale green to yellow color. Lower leaf surfaces become coated in brilliant orange powdery spores after a few weeks. Early in the summer, affected leaves wilt and die. Because the illness is systemic and affects the entire plant, removing infected leaves will have no effect on the plant’s overall health. Burpee suggests that sick plants be dug up and removed, as well as neighboring wild brambles be destroyed. If at all possible, remove plants before they release spores.

Phytophthora Root Rot:  It’s a soil-borne disease that flourishes in poorly drained soils and can linger for years in the soil. Pale or reddish leaves, small leaves, defoliation, branch dieback, stunting, and mortality are all indicators that can be seen above ground. Remove sick plants, as Burpee advises.

Powdery Mildew: When the weather is humid, powdery mildew appears on the tops of the leaves. The leaves have a white or greyish appearance and are prone to curling.

Conclusion

In conclusion, marionberries are simple to grow and care for, making them ideal for home gardens. Just remember to cultivate one-year canes up to 20 feet long. Although common species can be utilized for fences and walls, thornless varieties are preferred. Marionberries produce delicious fruits, but they’re also attractive plants, particularly during the flowering season.

Plant marionberries in your garden right now!

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