Tips for Growing Blackcurrants
Blackcurrants are one of the easiest fruits to grow successfully, though sadly they are banned in parts of the USA as they are host to white pine blister rust. They are quite distinct from the other types of Ribes, though often bundled in with . They fruit on young wood, not old, and have dark purple, almost black, berries with an unforgettable aroma, similar to that of the foliage and stems.
Blackcurrants are self-fertile, but it is worth having several varieties to spread the flowering and ensure a crop even when there are late frosts. Having several varieties also spreads the cropping and picking through summer and autumn. Although closely related to redcurrants, blackcurrants need a much richer, moister heavier soil to do really well. Nonetheless, they are easy and will crop in even quite adverse conditions and in moderate to heavy shade.
Blackcurrants are unique in that they must be planted deep. They are grown as a stool as they fruit best on young wood – much like. Plant them at least two paces apart. Pruning consists of cutting out the wood that has fruited leaving the younger shoots, this can be done brutally with one-third to half of each bush being razed to the ground each year. Make sure they are well mulched with copious amounts of compost or well-rotted . Seaweed sprays will also be of great benefit and help ward off attacks.
Mildew is more common in dry years and prevented by heavy watering and thick. Many of the newer varieties, such as ‘Ben Tirran’ and ‘Ben Connan’ are almost completely resistant. Blackcurrants do not suffer as quickly as many fruits from bird attacks, but need to be netted. curl the tips in early summer, but cause no significant damage. Big bud is a more serious problem. Inspect the plants in mid-winter and pick off any big round buds you notice. Burn them to reduce re-infection by the microscopic mites that cause the disfigurement. However, it is not the mites themselves, but a virus they carry called reversion which really devastates blackcurrant crops. So if yields from your plants drop for no apparent reason and will not return after heavy feeding, grub up all the bushes and grow new ones. Stinging grown nearby may benefit blackcurrants.
Blackcurrants hang well on the plant for several weeks if the birds cannot get at them. They have very high levels of vitamin C, freeze well and the jam is the easiest of all to make. I pick the bulk roughly, complete with sprigs, and make a jelly to which I later add the best berries.