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Home Garden Berries in Arkansas

Small fruits can be grown in a selected garden area or used in landscape design to add an aesthetic touch while producing flavorful and nutritious fruit. Most small fruit crops require a minimum amount of space for planting compared to the quantity of fruit produced. Many small fruit crops will begin producing fruit one or two years after planting.

Home fruit growers should be aware of potential problems that can occur with small fruit crops. Fruit diseases, insect pests, birds, and weather extremes can cause losses and reduce fruit quality. Success with small fruit crops in the home garden will depend on the attention given to all phases of production including variety selection, soil management, fertilization, pruning, and pest control.

See our Arkansas Small Fruit Management Schedule  for more information.

It is important to plant only what you can care for properly. A small, well-tended planting is better and will produce more fruit of higher quality than a large neglected planting.

The small fruit crops recommended for home fruit production in Arkansas are:

  • blackberry
  • blueberry
  • grape
  • muscadine
  • raspberry
  • strawberry

What is going on with my berries?

To find out visit the fruits, nuts, & vegetables insect management page

Blackberries are a native crop to Arkansas and many areas of the United States. Unlike many fruit crops, blackberries can be grown with little to no pesticide use in the home garden and require fewer inputs in commercial production.

  • Wide adaptation to soil type is found with blackberries.
  • The preferred soil pH is 5.5 to 6.5.
  • Good drainage is required.
  • Plants should not be grown in sites where water stands for long periods.

Thorns: To Be or Not To Be

The University of Arkansas has spent a great deal of time and effort with its fruit breeding program developing blackberry cultivars that have become the standard worldwide. All of the blackberry cultivars developed by the University of Arkansas have been named after Native American Indian tribes.

The University of Arkansas' cultivars, both thorny and thornless, have been shown to be adapted statewide. They are upright in growth habit and should be grown in a hedgerow-type system. They do not require the trellising system used for trailing and semi-erect varieties. These cultivars are floricane-fruiting, thus the canes must be overwintered for fruiting the second year.

The University of Arkansas patented blackberry cultivars are available from licensed blackberry propagators.

Recommended University of Arkansas Cultivars for Home Gardens

Thorny Thornless
  • 'Chickasaw'
  • 'Choctaw'
  • 'Kiowa' *
  • 'Shawnee' *
  • 'Apache'
  • 'Arapaho' *
  • 'Natchez'
  • 'Navaho'
  • 'Osage'
  • 'Ouachita'

*expired patent; contracts for propagation no longer being maintained

What is a primocane-fruiting blackberry?

The primocane-fruiting blackberry fruits on current-season canes. This new type of blackberry could greatly change blackberry production.  The first commercial primocane-fruiting blackberry cultivars were released by the University of Arkansas in 2004.


Learn How To...

In Arkansas, northern highbush blueberries are grown in the northern counties, and rabbiteyes are grown in more central and southern areas. 

Southern highbush evaluations and limited commercial production have begun in the traditional rabbiteye areas of Arkansas, and two southern highbush cultivars have been introduced.


A fundamental need in blueberry production is an acid soil, with a pH of 4.8 to 5.4 preferable in Arkansas, and a soil that is of a light texture. Sandy loam is preferred but not an absolute requirement. A recommended practice is the addition of peat moss at a rate of one to two gallons per plant to the planting hole at planting, along with mulching with an organic material such as pine straw, sawdust or wood chips. A mixture of sawdust and wood chips is preferable.

Irrigation is a must for plant survival and productivity.

Blueberries usually fruit the third season after planting. Flower buds will develop on second-year plants, but it is best to remove these to encourage plant growth in the second season.

Pest Control

Pest control on blueberries is minimal, and routine fungicide and insecticide applications are not commonly needed. Bird control is the major issue, particularly on small plantings. Netting or scaring devices are two options to consider.

Which blueberry type or variety to plant is a fundamental issue. This is largely dictated by location, with northern highbush adapted to the upper South and northward, rabbiteyes from the mid-South and southward and southern highbush from the upper South and southward.

The University of Arkansas patented blueberry cultivar 'Norman A-272' is available from licensed blueberry propagators.

*expired patent; contracts for propagation no longer being maintained.

Learn How To...

In Arkansas, strawberries are favorites in home gardens. The bright red, flavorful fruit are picked from April thru June in our state. Strawberries can be produced as “annuals” – which means only one year of production – if special cultivars like 'Chandler' are planted in the fall on raised beds then picked one time the following spring, then start over. They can also be produced as “perennials” or “matted-row production” by planting cultivars like 'Cardinal' in the fall either on beds or in rows. These types will produce their first crop the following spring but will produce more abundantly the second spring and thereafter. These perennial plants can last at least 7 years if maintained, and will produce many baby plants each season to renew the field.

Learn How To...

FSA6130 Choose the Best Strawberry Cultivar to Plant
Small Fruit Cultivar Recommendations for Arkansas
FSA6103 Grow Strawberries in Arkansas
Strawberry Production in the Home Garden
NCSU Cooperative Extension Grow with Plasticulture
Plasticulture Production  NCSU Cooperative Extension
 MP467 Control Pests
Arkansas Small Fruit Management Schedule
MP144 Control Pests - Insecticides
Insecticide Recommendations for Arkansas | Strawberries
MP154 Control Disease
Arkansas Plant Disease Control Products Guide | Small Fruit Diseases - Home Garden
FSA7528 Control Disease - Gray Mold
Gray Mold - A Silent Strawberry Nemesis (color) 
MP44 Control Weeds
Recommended Chemicals for Weed and Brush Control for Arkansas | Fruits & Nuts
FCS506 Enjoy the Harvest!
Arkansas Fresh: Strawberries (color)

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