The marionberry was introduced in 1956 at my alma mater, Oregon State University, and developed in Marion County. While they grow throughout the Pacific Northwest, 90% of the world’s crops are grown around the Marion County area. There are few spots in the world where caneberries (the blackberry family) grow and thrive, and the Willamette Valley in Oregon provides the perfect climate: a moist spring followed by hot summer days and cool nights.
These aren't just any old ordinary blackberry, their flavor is far superior, even to Boysenberries. The marionberry is a cross between two hybrids - the smaller, tasty Chehalem and the larger high-producing Ollalie - and is big, fat and distinctively sweet.
Marionberries usually reach their peak around mid-July, but since we experienced a much colder spring this year in the Pacific Northwest, all berries are just starting to come out in their full glory. Soon marionberry aficionados like myself will be out picking 'til our lips, tongues and fingers are stained purple. Our pantries will be filled with marionberry jams and syrups, and our tables laid with pies and fresh home-made ice cream.
Oh, summer in the Pacific Northwest is grand!