After seeing the damage caused by Thumper, Peter Cotton Tail, and their friends, I decided I needed to rethink my strategy a bit. The damage caused to the brambles will not harm the plants much, but it will have a huge impact on our harvest this year because the canes that were damaged, were the canes that would have developed fruit.
The University of Arkansas has released three primocane blackberries. Pime-Jim® and Prime-Jan® where both released in 2004. They are still very popular but the flavor is not as good as some floricane varieties, and winter cane injury called into question their hardiness. Even though they have been grown as far north as USDA zone 3, I did not feel that they would produce well on top of my windy hill in zone 5. In 2009 Prime-Ark® 45 was release. This may be a game changer. Reviews say that it is much hardier, better tasting, and provides better yields than its predecessors . I have ordered enough plants for a tunnel trial as well as a field trial. At this point I am cautiously optimistic. The Black Satin thornless bushes that were planted last year, are doing well. Pruning them does not turn into a blood letting session so I ordered Ouachita thornless blackberries for trial inside and out as well.
We have also added to our raspberries. I increased the amount of Heritage we have planted and have added Caroline, Joan J, and Polka. If the Polka plants produce I think next year at this time I will be making some Paczki filled with raspberry preserves.
Hopefully with the addition of primocane bearing plants, even if the rabbits use the tunnel as a salad bar next winter, we will still have a sizable harvest. If all else fails, I ordered several Ghost Pepper plants, maybe I should let the critters bite into one of those.