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Blackcurrants - Ribes Nigrum

Blackcurrants and red currants are
usually picked in bunches, complete
with their stalks. They can be collected
in a trug for convenience.


Not only do blackcurrants have a unique flavour, but they are much valued for their high vitamin C content. They are used widely in desserts as well as jams and drinks. Blackcurrants, like red and white currants, tend to have a relatively short season compared with other soft fruit, but although related to red currants it is important to realize that they are pruned in a different way. Because the fruit is produced on the previous season’s growth, it is important that this is not removed. Unlike red currants, blackcurrants can only be grown on bushes.

They are long-lived plants, lasting up to 15 years or more. Joostberries, a cross between blackcurrants and gooseberries, are grown in the same way.

Cultivation

Blackcurrants prefer a sunny site, although they will tolerate a little light shade. The soil should be well prepared and have plenty of well-rotted humus added to it. Plant between autumn and early spring, setting the plants at intervals of 1.5m/5ft. Mulch in spring with a layer of organic material. Water during dry spells but not when the fruit starts to ripen or it may split. Propagate from hardwood cuttings taken 
in autumn.

Pruning and training

After planting, reduce all shoots to one bud above the ground. The following 
winter remove any weak wood. After that remove any weak wood and up to a third 
of the older wood so that new growth is produced. Never reduce the lengths of 
the shoots.

Pruning a blackcurrant bush
After planting, cut blackcurrant bushes back to a single bud above the ground. 
The following winter, remove any weak or misplaced growth. Subsequent pruning should take place after fruiting and consists of cutting out up to a third of two-year-old or older wood in order to stimulate new growth. Also remove any weak or misplaced stems.

Harvesting and storage

Pick the fruit as it ripens, retaining the stalks. Store by freezing or preserving, removing all stalks first.

Pests and diseases

Birds are likely to be the biggest problem. Aphids, big bud mite and gall mites 
may also be troublesome. Leaf spot and powdery mildew can also be a problem.

Varieties

  •           ‘Baldwin’
  •           ‘Ben Connan’
  •           ‘Ben Lomond’
  •           ‘Ben More’
  •           ‘Ben Sarek’
  •           ‘Boskoop Giant’
  •           ‘Malling Jet’
  •           ‘Mendip Cross’
  •           ‘Wellington XXX’