Reuben is a late-season primocane blackberry bred at the University of Arkansas, USA, using specific targeted breeding, and selected in the UK for growing in UK and Northern Europe. This is a unique program since seeds are sent for germination and selection at Hargreaves Plants soft fruit trial site. Unlike floricane types, primocanes fruit on the first year wood, and can be cut to the ground after winter-induced dormancy. If preferred, two smaller crops can be obtained from the same plant-one early in the season, (referred to as a floricane crop, produced on the previous years’ wood), and the other crop later in the season on the current years’ wood, which will be produced after the plants have been cut to the ground. It has upright growth habit, good manageable vigour, compact laterals and excellent display for cheaper picking costs. It has a berry weight of up to 11g in the UK, which is 50% bigger than most floricane types, and has measured 14g in trials.
Since the plants are erect, the planting density can be increased, so more plants can be planted in the available space, thus increasing yield potential. If planting directly into soil then 0.5m between plants is suitable, meanwhile spacing for potted plants can be slightly less. The traditional varieties often have trailling canes, which take up more space as they need to be trained to wires (see Fig. 1 below where A illustrates the traditional method and B shows the more upright plant type).
Take a look at the Reuben YouTube video for more information - www.bit.ly/reubenvideo
To give an indication of seasonality in comparison to a floricane, the early floricane crop was compared to Tupy, a floricane variety in our trials in Spain. The data is shown here in graph form to show that Reuben can also be useful as an early floricane type.
Brix measurements, acidity levels and taste panels are good measurements for flavour, and work carried out last season showed that the number of volatiles and flavonoids in blackberries to build the intense fruit flavour can be as many as 147 different naturally occurring chemicals. The average °Brix for Reuben is 11.5% in the UK, indicating high levels of sweetness. Tartaric acid was measured throughout the harvest season and the results are shown below.
As shown here the levels of Tartaric acid was highest in Loch Ness, whilst the Brix levels were higher in Reuben than Loch Ness indicating consistent sweetness. Total volatiles were also measured and Reuben proved to have a high number of flavour volatiles in the cultivars tested in this group.
Reuben fruits have a sweet,fruity flavour as shown by the information above, which, combined with a unique primocane growing habit, consistent average berry weight, and high potential yield makes a worthwhile addition to any growers’ variety profile.