I have had Prime Ark Freedom for three years. This year we had severe die-back on the canes over winter. When I talked to the Extension specialist, she told me that Freedom has a low chilling requirement, and apparently the plants had become active during a warm spell. Then, when cold weather returned, the canes were severely damaged. I am in Illinois, not far from St. Louis, MO.William K
This is the 2nd year I've purchased berries from Nourse. The Freedom plants arrived looking quite dormant, but that didn't last for long! They've burst forth wonderfully, and just like last year, 100% survived shipping and transplanting. We're very pleased with everything we've ever ordered from Nourse! Excellent products.Clarke P
They are a very hardy plant, I have ordered from other growers but you can beat the price, service and how great they turn out. I will now only order from Nourse farms,,,I am just so happy with them. Ken Wken w
I have grown PAF for about a year and a half, super performance, early bloom and a ton of green berries on tips of first year canes. I bought 100 plants a year ago march, got plants in the ground and they just took off growing. Never lost a plant. Largest blackberries they look the size of big strawberries. I have ordered more plants for this winter planting of more rows. Thanks Nourse Farmsjim e
I don't think the SIZE of these berries is adequately discussed. These are HUGE! Ours are roughly the size of ping-pong balls, I have never seen anything like it in my life. I have eaten wild blackberries for years and there is no comparison, these are from a different planet.Matt R
The directions to tip these at 15" and 30" is spot on. The canes I don't tip just keep growing long, the tipped ones fork and start fruiting. This is a must. Also, I find that I have to trellis mine. The fruit is just too huge for the cane to support. They are generally upright though.
Nourse did an amazing job with these plants. All 100 of my plants survived 8 days of shipping. Their root structure is impressive. One video described Nourse plants as "bulletproof", I agree. Well done, you guys are light years ahead of Gurneys and others I have ordered from in the past.
I ordered PAF from Nourse last fall (2017) for planting this past spring (2018). They arrived in great shape with a good root system. I set them out and they took off. I'm very pleased with Nourse. I've ordered from another nursery and their plants were good too. But the only reason I won't order from Nourse is if they just don't have a variety of plant that I'm just set on getting. I don't think you will beat Nourse.Len L.
I planted Prime Ark Freedom in spring 2016. A record-wet summer in my area of western Kentucky that year led to waterlogged soils and poorer primocane development than I had hoped for. However, the plants displayed great stress; all of the first year canes survived the winter of '16-'17 in great shape. Fruiting on the floricanes in spring 2017 was admirable considering the stress of the prior season. Berry size was impressive, though the fruit tended to soften rather quickly once they attained the full-black stage.Tim S.
Primocanes that arose from the crowns during spring & summer 2017 were notably vigorous. Tipping, as prescribed in your guidelines and cited by other reviewers, definitely makes for better cane architecture, heavier bloom and higher yields. We began harvesting fruit from the primocanes on 8-15-17 and continued regular pickings about every three days through mid-October, though yield did crop off significantly after late September. We even plucked a few edible fruit from the planting on 11-2-17, just before our first killing freeze of autumn.
Disappointment arose, however, when the robust primocanes that arose in 2017 suffered dieback during the 2017-2018 winter. About 75% of the canes died all the way to ground level. Another roughly 10% died down to within 1 to 2 feet of the soil, with only about 15% showing little or no damage. The injury resulted in a virtually non-existent floricane crop this spring.
Furthermore, the injured plants were very slow to regenerate new primocanes from their root systems. I was worried for a time that some plants may have perished entirely. Fortunately, as spring transitioned to early summer, all plants began to re-initiate at least some primocane development, though some of it remains weak to this day.
I also happen to have a planting of Prime Ark Traveler immediately adjacent to this planting of Freedom. Both are the same age. In contrast, the Traveler planting did not suffer any noticeable dieback during the 2017-2018 winter. In fact, the Traveler floricanes produced an outstanding spring 2018 harvest. People I shared the fruit with were impressed with the berry size, flavor and firmness.
I'm going to keep babysitting the Freedom planting and hopefully get it restored to optimal condition. However, the winter dieback it suffered and ensuing slow recovery are definite concerns.
I’m in my second year with these bushes. They are strong and tall. During the first year, they produced a handful of fruit, mostly after each tipping. This spring they are covered in blossoms. I think I would have had a better yield the first year if my soil was more acidic. The soil tends to be alkaline and is mostly sand. Winters here get into the mid 30s and the low 90s during the summer peak. The plants are in the shade during the mornings and evenings. These would work best in zone 9 with some shade trees/bushes or structure. Blackberries are sweet when left to fully ripen. We have picked them a little early due to heavy presence of migrating spring birds, but they taste great in smoothies.Najarules