Navaho Thornless Blackberries May be Answer to a Soft Market
By Don Comis
December 1, 1997
Blackberries are a 90's-type of food. They're rich in fiber and
ellagic acid, a substance recently in the news for its possible
anti-cancer properties. But it's hard to find fresh blackberries
without camping out in the produce section.
That may soon change, due in part to the recent discovery that Navaho,
a thornless blackberry variety, has a shelf life of 14 to 21 days
compared with the typical 3- to 4-day shelf life of other varieties.
Short shelf life is the reason for the scarcity of fresh blackberries,
even though acreage devoted to blackberries has been expanding,
especially in the South.
Navaho was bred by James N. Moore and John R. Clark of the
University of Arkansas at Fayetteville
and released in 1988 as the first thornless erect blackberry. But the
discovery of its unusual staying power is more recent, the result of
post-harvest research on blackberries by Penelope Perkins-Veazie, a
plant physiologist with the Agricultural
Research Service in Lane, Okla.
Perkins-Veazie stored Navaho blackberries in industrial coolers
exactly like those used by industry before transport to stores. She
sent a test shipment of the berries to the Netherlands and found they
arrived just as they were picked: firm, exceptionally sweet and
consistently tasty. This test included a 4-hour refrigerated shipment
from an Oklahoma farm to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in
Texas and a 2-day air shipment with dry ice.
The discovery of that Navaho's shelf life surpasses currently
important commercial varieties and the latest breeding lines gives the
fresh blackberry market a needed boost to convert a shrinking number
Scientific contact: Penelope Perkins-Veazie, ARS
Agricultural Research Laboratory, Lane, Okla., phone (405)
889-7395, fax (405) 889-5783, firstname.lastname@example.org.