Primocane blackberries

Madison, WI(Zone 5a)

Hi, has anybody had experience growing the new primocane blackberries (Prime Jan & Prime Jim)? I'm in zone 5a and would like to give them a try. If you've tried them, I'm wondering what you thought of the taste, yield, disease issues, etc. Also, how big do they get? I'm not sure of how much room to allot them, and how to support them. (Are they a more erect type of blackberry, or one of the crazy spreading ones?) Are these the best blackberry choice for the north, or one of the more cold hardy traditional types (like Illini Hardy)? thanks!

Wake Forest, NC(Zone 7b)

Starkes sold me 2 Jans and a Jim for $9.99 a couple of years ago. They have thorns which I don't like - I have 2 Arapaho and 2 Navaho planted in the same row (thornless). Only Jim is not doing "very" well - it's a real slower grower for me - but I think both Jim & Jan are for colder climates.

BTW all the blackberries tasted the same to me last Summer.

Madison, WI(Zone 5a)

Thanks for the input pbyrley. I'm glad to know the taste is not inferior - somehow, I figure if they're new/primocane berries there is probably something wrong with them the companies aren't telling us.

I'm prepared for thorns - not that I like them, but I take that to be a matter of course with blackberries! If I can get them to grow at all up north I will be happy.

Wake Forest, NC(Zone 7b)

Hi Rebecca,
I wanted to strongly recommend the Nourse Farms for all berries, including blackberries. Go to They have Prime Jim and Prime Jan as well as some of the thornless ones I like. They are located in Massachusetts.

Nourse Farms Inc. is a Watchdog 30 company.


Madison, WI(Zone 5a)

Thanks Paul. I hadn't heard of them, but will definitely check them out!

Needville, TX(Zone 9a)

I've read that Prime-Ark 45, released after Prime Jim/Jan is even better. I have Prime-Jim, but will be pulling them, probably next year, as they don't seem to handle our Texas zone 9a heat. No berries last year, so I'm pampering them this year. If no, or few, berries, then out they'll come. I'll probably replace with Navajo.

Prime-Ark 45 is at Stark Bro's.

Wake Forest, NC(Zone 7b)

Prime-Ark 45 is also at Nourse. (web site above) Price in my 2012 catalog is 5 for $24.30. "Grows best in zones 6-9" Note that this, like the other two Primes, is thorny. I like the thornless Indian named ones much better.

I agree with diamondjfarms (is that the famous Diamond Jim in disguise?) above that Prime Jim is not so good. I would never buy another, even if it were thornless. Prime Jan seems pretty good. Nourse says the three Primes are "Ever bearing while the Indian named ones are Summer bearing. I had wondered why my Primes tried to blossom in the Fall (then the cold made the start of a berry fall off. This coming Summer will be a better comparison between my 2 Prime Jans which will be in their third Summer and the Arapahos and Navajos (2 each) which will be in their 2nd Summer. I found from my NC Ag extension blackberry bulletin that blackberries need near neutral pH (forgot exact number range and too lazy to get up and look). Since I have pH of 4.2 to 4.5, they may do even better after some lime!

I get my blackberries (Navaho, Arapho, etc) at Lowes. I think they're $8.95 (maybe $9.95) each growing in a pot which, I think, gives you a 1 year sooner fruit yield than the smaller bare rooted plants I got from Starke Bros. Since I'm an old guy, every year counts.

Madison, WI(Zone 5a)

Thanks for all the detailed info - very helpful! I will look into Prime-Ark and the Indian thornless ones too. I'm in zone 5 so it's pretty marginal for most blackberries, as far as I understand. I'm will to put up with thorns if I can get some tasty fruit! Maybe I'll experiment with different varieties and see what does best in my area.

By the way I've seen some unnamed cultivars for sale at Home Depot in a pot, and they look pretty big, so maybe would give a head start as you say pbyrley. But they want like $25 for just one plant! I just think that's a crazy price, when you can get 5 canes for less by mailorder.

Wake Forest, NC(Zone 7b)

Yeah, I think I'd rather buy 5 canes for $24.30 from Nourse - they grow fast, it's just that I feel rushed (due to my age).

I see in my Nourse catalog that the Indian named ones do say Zone 6-8 while Primes Jim and Jan are Zones 5-8. The Prime-Ark grows best in Zones 6-9 so you may want to skip it.

There is one Thornless Summer bearing one, called Chester, that is "recommended "for beginners" that is for Zones 5-9.

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