The Q&A Archives: Thorny vs. thornless blackberries

Question: I am a warm zone 5. I am a little concerned that, even if my Chester thornless blackberries survive a cold winter, their fruit production would be damaged the next summer. Could you please give me info comparing the flavor and hardiness, as well as space requirements, for Chester and Illini thorny? I have gotten conflicting information. Thanks so much.

Answer: I've never had a "bad" tasting blackberry, so to some extent flavor is a personal preference. Often you will sacrifice some flavor for thornlessness or other qualities such as storage, so there are always tradeoffs. Hardiness ratings are an approximation and guide, mainly because so much depends on the microclimate your garden enjoys. Wind protection, frost pockets and drainage are all very important and can change the conditions markedly. This web site offers some information you might find helpful with regard to planting and spacing (Cherokee was developed along with Illini). You might want to try some of each and see which does better all around for your purposes.

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