Ponca blackberry variety

Rating [ 4.9 ]

Probably, Sweet-Ark Ponca is the sweetest blackberry cultivar in the world today

Botanical designation

Rubus subgenus Rubus Watson 'Ponca'

Originated from a cross of

Originated from a cross of A-2406 x A-2253T

Variety denomination

Variety denomination - 'Ponca', tested as A-2538T

Plants are

Plants are thornless

Bushes have

Bushes have erect canes

Fruit weight is

Fruit weight is 6 g


Berries have a rounded shape

Fruiting habit

Fruiting habit - floricane fruiting (summer-bearing)

Flowering on floricanes starts in the

Flowering on floricanes starts in the first week of May

Ripening date (regular) -

Ripening date (regular) - second week of June

Productivity is

Productivity is 5 kg per plant

Soluble solids

Soluble solids - 13.4%


Acidity - 0.54%

Cold hardiness is

Cold hardiness is good

Heat tolerance is

Heat tolerance is moderate

Country of origin

Country of origin - United States


Patent US PP33,330 P2 dated August 09, 2021

Current status

Current status - cultivated (actual)

Meet one of the sweetest blackberry cultivar in the world! It is Ponca blackberry.
Ponca (Sweet-Ark Ponca) offers the top of flavor from one of the world’s leading public blackberry breeding programs. Ponca was selected by John R. Clark, and this cultivar is the twentieth blackberry from the fruit breeding program of the division’s Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station.
Ponca is floricane-fruiting medium-sized thornless blackberry cultivar. Bushes are moderately vigorous and very prolific. Plants are low in height, about 1,5 m when properly tipping. Primocanes and floricanes are erect in growth habit. Berries and flower clusters are medium-large, cymose, and are mostly borne on the periphery of the plant canopy, providing easy access to harvest.
The canes can be trained to a self-supporting hedgerow although it is beneficial to use a trellis with supporting wires to prevent canes from falling over due to wind or heavy fruit loads.
The bloom period of the Ponca cultivar begins in the last week of April. Flower fertility is high and clusters are well filled. Flowers are big (about 40 mm in diameter), have white color. Berries ripen in the first week of June. The average floricane fruiting period is 55 days. Fruit yield on floricanes averages 5.8 kg per plant.
Average berry weight is about 6 g, slightly larger than Osage and nearly the same as Caddo. The fruit is round, slightly oblong in shape and glossy with a uniform black finish. Size is maintained well throughout the entire harvest season. Ponca cultivar exhibits excellent fruit fertility with full drupelet set.
The fresh fruit rates very well in flavor and is a noteworthy attribute of the cultivar and is comparable to Osage and Caddo. Consistent flavor was noted at repeated observations of fruit of this cultivar over the years of evaluation including after rain events that can reduce flavor and overall fruit quality. The flavor is sweet and sub-acid.
Storage potential of fresh fruit of the new cultivar is good and overall comparable to Osage and Caddo, berries are very firm.
Ponca is disease-resistant. Plants and fruit have shown no evidence of anthracnose and no evidence of susceptibility to orange rust. Plants have shown slight susceptibility to cane and leaf rust.
Winter hardiness has been comparable to Ouachita and has shown very little injury to a low of minus 17 С.
Table 1. Comparison table of popular fresh-market blackberry cultivars and Ponca blackberry (2019 harvest season, Clarksville, Arkansas)
Blackberry Berry weight, g Size, LxW, mm Soluble solids, % Acidity, % Ratio
Caddo 9.15 33x24 8.50 1.33 6.44
Natchez 9.98 35x25 9.33 1.37 6.80
Osage 4.83 23x22 9.80 0.64 15.39
Ouachita 7.74 28x24 9.30 1.61 5.87
Ponca 6.70 26x22 10.40 0.82 12.83
Prime-Ark Traveler 6.97 29x23 9.50 0.67 15.85
Prime-Ark 45 7.64 33x23 9.47 0.81 12.30
A-2491T 9.70 37x23 10.97 0.97 13.49

On the basis of Threlfall et al.’s (2016) findings on ideal composition parameters for fresh-market blackberries and according to market research, made in 2020 by Threlfall and John Clark et al.’s, Ponca have the most ideal composition of the cultivars evaluated, with a 12.83 soluble solids/titratable acidity ratio, 10.40% soluble solids, and 0.82% titratable acidity.

How to cultivate blackberry

How to cultivate blackberry Ponca?

1. Include annual spring nitrogen (N) fertilization (about 56 kg/ha) using ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3);
2. Summer tipping of primocanes at 1.1 m;
3. Use a hedgerow training system including a trellis;
4. A single application of liquid lime sulfur (94 L/ha) each spring at budbreak for control of anthracnose;
5. Use insecticides for spotted-wing drosophila control during the harvest season;
6. Plant spacing at least 0.6 m;
Diseases resistance

What diseases is blackberry Ponca resistant to?

Ponca has very good resistance to diseases such as AnthracnoseOrange Rust
Diseases susceptibility

What diseases is blackberry variety Ponca vulnerable to?

Ponca is quite prone to diseases such as Cane Blight
Relevant documents

Relevant documents for Ponca blackberry variety:

Useful Growing Guides

Useful Growing Guides:

Previous variety
Prime-Ark 45
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Reviews of the variety Ponca

Review from [ZENDOG]

I found a few Ponca on one of my first year plants today. I planted these in a row, but also put in a bunch of determinate paste tomatoes, peppers and some cucamelons between them that have now grown up so it is crowded and a bit hard to see all of the Ponca’s growth. I’ll let the Poncas have all the space next year, but thought they could share this year while they’re small. These tasted very good, but not quite as sweet as I had hoped, maybe from being shaded by the other plants. But the flavor was definitely a bit richer or fuller than other thornless I’ve tasted. I look forward to seeing what they do next year.

Review from [WOLFMANJACK]

The Ponca blackberries I planted in the spring are coming along nicely. A few of the plants flowered on the old growth bareroot stalk. I had a nice big juicy one that was to be ready today. Unfortunately when I got home from work it seems one of the local birds needed it more than me. There was a runt of a berry on the same bush that was black as well that the birds so graciously left me. I was not expecting much but to my delight the berry was very sweet with a very slight twang at the end. It was only one so not much of a sample size but I’m optimistic these plants will be winners next year. My sweetie pies have been getting destroyed by the birds and squirrels even with netting up. It’s so frustrating. If it’s war they want, it shall be war they get.

Review from [TEXASPREPPER2]

THERE IS A NEW BLACKBERRY VARIETY...! And it looks like it's going to be one of the BEST EVER.
Take a trip with me to Bob Wells Nursery at Sorelle Farms to get some new PONCA blackberries!
I think this is going to be a great new variety for the Homesteader/Backyard Gardener.


AAES Research Recap: Ponca Blackberry


The Ponca blackberry is the latest variety developed by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Fruit Research Station near Clarksville. Coming on the heels of other successful varieties developed there like Ouachita and Caddo, Ponca is a thornless, sweet variety that should prove successful with farmers and consumers. UA Distinguished Professor John Clark describes this new blackberry.


Ponca blackberry. In my years in fruit breeding at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, this is one of the most exciting discoveries I've had a part in. Why is it so exciting? It is a good blackberry, berry after berry after berry. Difficult to get blackberries to be consistently good and sweet, and Ponca, it shines in that characteristic.
Ponca ripens early. It's very near Natchez season, one of our earliest varieties, and so it'll get into the market in the early season. Ponca's characteristics include: a berry size of about seven grams, which is comparable to Ouachita, a very important Arkansas variety, and larger than Osage, one of our most popular high flavored varieties. The berry chemistry is one of the best I've seen for a blackberry. Anywhere from 10 to 13 percent average soluble solids for the season, the sweetest one we've released. It has a sub-acid flavor which always complements the sweetness, and it has a tremendous aromatic profile.
The storage of Ponca is very good. It retains its black color very good with very limited reversion or reddening of the cells in storage. It maintains its shiny appearance, that sweetness carries through on flavor. I think for a storage berry and for shipping, it has great potential. And for local markets, your customers are going to come back and ask for Ponca.
Yield is very important in our blackberry breeding program because we want to have productive plants year in and year out. The yield for Ponca is approximately 15 to 20 thousand pounds per acre in our test plots, and is equal to that of Ouachita and Osage, two of our successful varieties that have been stable yield plants in the commercial market.
Ponca has a couple of unique plant characteristics that are new to our blackberry variety profile, and that includes the ability to produce the primary crop which ripens early very similar to Natchez in season, and the secondary crop which ripens anywhere from 14 to 20 days later. When we have a frost, we have a little bit of recovery crop potential because these buds break a little later. A unique aspect of Ponca is its plant type. It has a shortened internodes, and that's the space between leaves and shoots and flower clusters, and it allows a more compact type plant. This is the fruiting area which is about shoulder heigh to slightly lower, where the canes have been tipped to train them the prior year. However the primocanes on Ponca emerge above the fruiting canopy later, which is an added benefit in that tipping is not required early or during harvest in our trials, and it also allows the tipping to be done after harvest. This is a labor saving technique and reduces some management costs, which probably will be beneficial to growers of commercial blackberries.
In the berry category, blackberries have the greatest growth potential, and the only thing holding back is marketing and better varieties. Often times people say, "I don't like blackberries because they're tart or sour." Ponca is sweet. Berry to berry to berry consistency is better than any blackberry I've ever experienced. Give Ponca a try. I think it can expand your blackberry sales, and put smiles on customer faces.

Review from [TEXASPREPPER2]

How does the new Ponca Blackberry variety match up with other Commercial blackberries? Well, take a look at these plants. Raising blackberries in containers is easy and, in my opinion, a much better way for to have a small blackberry patch.


We planted 1/4 acre of Ponca this fall. We are somewhat cautious since the new variety produces a small secondary crop and requires a different management technique when toping the canes. I suspect it’s going to be an excellent addition or terrible.

Placed the new Ponca side by side with Caddo, Ouachita and Von in a new field. Von ripens at the same time as Navaho. Since its a NCSU variety it has been tested a lot in my area. Brix, yield and flavor has been described as about the same as the Arkansas berries. It has better resistance to orange rust than Navaho.

Still have about an acre of Natchez, Ouchata and Navaho in the old field. I like the Navaho fruit a lot but the plants are consumed with orange rust and will be removed. These plants are 12 or more years old and we have noticed some decline in vigor and plant survival over time.


This is my first year with blackberries. I'm using the rotating Cross Arm trellis format of my own design. Ponca is a beautiful dark green plant with lush compact leaf structure. The leaves are huge. The canes are very stiff and prone to bending over, but mine have continued to grow and put on laterals that are trainable (let them grow long and only do gradual sweeping horizontal wire training) I have found, so, that the best ties I can find is grocery bags cut in strips. I hope those stiff canes make the winter position tradition without breaking. I have not had any berries but expect to next season.

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Discussions about variety Ponca

Dmitrii Z


2021-10-26 14:25

Ponca plants are now available from Ison’s Nursery, Pense Berry Nursery, Simmons and Indianaberry as well.

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