This issue we highlight the newest blackberry from Dr. Chad Finn’s USDA-ARS blackberry breeding program in Corvallis, OR. This blackberry has to be the largest berry that we have ever seen, earning its name as a “giant”! 

Inventor: Chad Finn, USDA-ARS, HCRU Corvallis


Bernadine Strik, Oregon State University (OSU) Department of Horticulture

Brian Yorgey, OSU Department of Food Science

Mary Peterson, USDA-ARS Corvallis; Jungmin Lee, USDA-ARS Parma

Robert Martin, USDA-ARS Corvallis

What makes ‘Columbia Giant’ special?

It has extremely large (>12 g), attractive fruit that are good to eat. While it will likely be mostly handpicked for the fresh market, the fruit is machine harvestable and the plants are thornless.

When was the cross made?


What is the pedigree of ‘Columbia Giant’?

NZ 9629-1 and ORUS 1350-2 (‘Black Butte’ × ORUS 828-43). ‘Columbia Star’ was also selected from this cross. What is the size of the family from which ‘Columbia Giant’ was selected, and are there other siblings from this cross that have commercial potential? 55, a moderate size. Tried for 100. Four selections were made in this family, with the 2012 release ‘Columbia Star’ also coming from this family. It shares a maternal parent with the very early ripening ORUS 3448-2, which is being released this year.

Has this or will this cultivar be used in RosBREED, and how?

Its sibling ‘Columbia Star,’ which should have much in common genetically, was the parent of crosses that were phenotyped, and will be genome-scanned with the goal of identifying loci controlling fruit sweetness. Because ‘Columbia Giant’ has been used as a breeding parent for flavor, the information gleaned from the RosBREED analysis should be able to be applied to these families also.

When will this cultivar be in the market?

A substantial number of plants will be established in 2017 for harvest in 2018.

Any other interesting notes about ‘Columbia Giant’?

As with its sibling ‘Columbia Star,’ collaboration between the New Zealand Plant and Food Research, the Oregon State University Horticulture and Food Science and Technology Departments, the USDA-ARS, HCRU clean plant program, commercial propagators, and growers was essential to getting ‘Columbia Giant’ to the market.

‘Columbia Giant’ is the largest trailing blackberry cultivar we are aware of, and there are no other blackberries that are as large and uniformly shaped. The size comes from ORUS 1350-2, which in turn got its size from ‘Black Butte’ blackberry. There are concerns that the fruit is too big for clamshell packing; packers might need to develop special packaging, or it might be limited to farmers markets and pick-your-own sales.

Why should growers want to grow ‘Columbia Giant’?

‘Columbia Giant’ is FUN and tastes good!!!!