Several blackberry species are native to Florida. Native Americans fed on this fruit long before settlers arrived in this country. Wild blackberries are still harvested in Florida, however they have limitations including comparatively small berries, lack of uniformity, low yield and late maturation.
In 2005, the University of Arkansas’ breeding program released Ouachita’, an erect growing thornless cultivar. This plant produces consistently high yields of plump, pluckable medium size fruit, which are easy to harvest on their thornless upright canes. These blackberries rate very good in both flavor and sweetness and are hardy, disease resistant, and reliable. Harvest can begin as early as mid to late May in central Florida and can continue thru July.
Although the handling and storage potential of the fruit from these new cultivars is very good, so far they are primarily limited to homeowner production. Most of the blackberries you see in the stores are shipped in from northern states or from Arkansas. So if you want truly fresh blackberries in your diet, why not grow them yourself. The Ouachita (wash-uh-taw) Blackberry is certainly a great choice for our Central Florida area.