Growing Red / White Currants
All the varieties are self-fertile; so only one plant need be grown.
Recommended varieties: -
Redcurrants - Red Lake
White currants - White Versailles
Soil Conditions and Siting
Currants do best in a deep, fertile and well-drained soil. It is well worthwhile taking time to prepare the soil properly prior to planting. The pH of the soil should be maintained at 6.5. The site should be sheltered and sunny. They will tolerate slight shading but the amount of fruit produced will be less. They flower in early spring so will need some form of protection if frosts are a problem.
Supports and Training
Red and White currants can be grown as free standing bushes or trained as single, double and triple cordons, against a fence/wall or post and wire supports
Plant bare rooted stock in autumn or early winter. They are often sold in containers and these can be planted out at any time of the year. Allow 5ft (1.8m) between plants and 6ft (2m) between the rows.
Red/White currants grow on a leg, which means that they send up new shoots from a short stem. Before planting out remove all suckers coming from the root, leaving just the main stem or 'leg'. When planting, set the plant at the same level as it was in the nursery or pot. To encourage rooting add 2 handfuls of Bonemeal to the soil when planting. Cordons should be planted so that the arms are 1ft (30cm) apart, double cordons 2ft (60cm) apart and triple cordons 3ft (90cm) apart.
Currants require a lot of Potassium (Potash) so they will need extra feeding. To satisfy this need feed with 1 handful of Rock Potash per Sq. Yard. (Metre) in the spring. A browning on the leaf margins indicates a Potash deficiency. To remedy this, give a liquid foliar feed of Seaweed extract and a dressing of Rock Potash as above.
Free-standing bushes need training to produce a strong cup-shaped bush. In the first winter cut back the main branches to leave half the wood that has been made that year. Any side shoots should be cut back to an outward facing bud roughly 3" (7cm) above the junction. At the same time cut out any branches that are broken, diseased or dead, overcrowded or growing towards the centre of the bush. In the third and subsequent year's prune in the summer, immediately after harvesting. Reduce the side shoots to five leaves and when the main stems have reached the desired height, treat these in the same way.
Train cordon-grown currants upwards rather than at an angle. Train by pruning the main arms in winter, cutting back the leading shoot leave two-thirds of the last season's growth. In summer, prune after harvesting by cutting any side shoots back to 3" (7cm). Any secondary shoots should be cut back to 1" (2.5cm).
Pick the sprigs of fruit when they are ripe and remove later by using a kitchen fork. Currants do not store so should be eaten straight away or preserved by freezing or bottling.
Pests and Diseases
Aphids, Birds, Mildew, Sawfly and Leaf Spot are common problems. (See pests and diseases section for prevention's and cures. This is accessed via the Main Index Page)
14 December, 2003
© copyright 1999, P. A. Owen