Ribes nigrum – Blackcurrant
This deciduous woody shrub grows to about 1.5m in height and width, they are long lived for shrubs, up to fifty years, but are often replaced every 10 – 15 years in commercial orchards. The Blackcurrant prefers cool damp fertile soils and mulching is beneficial as they are shallow rooted. While winter hardy, cold weather at flowering time during the spring reduces the size of the crop as the flowers are susceptible to frost damage. Bunches of small, glossy black fruit develop along the stems in the summer and the raw fruit is particularly rich in vitamin C. Blackcurrants can be eaten raw but are usually cooked to make jams, jellies and syrups and often mixed with other fruits such as raspberry or apple. The fruit is also used in the preparation of alcoholic beverages and both fruit and foliage have uses in traditional medicine and the preparation of dyes. The leaves are considered edible so would be safe for livestock and a great plant for a chook forage area.
As the blackcurrant produces berries on one and two year old wood, regular pruning helps maintain consistent cropping. Removal of one or two of the oldest branches at the base, any dead material and low branches touching the soil is all that is usually required. When planting a young blackcurrant all branches can be cut back to two buds above the soil to help the plant establish a strong root system. This should be done during winter while the plant is dormant. As they are heavy feeders, especially with nitrogen and potassium, a yearly application of manure and/or compost is also beneficial.
Ribes rubrum – Red currant
The redcurrant is a deciduous shrub growing up to 2meters high. Currant bushes prefer partial to full sunlight and can grow in most types of soil. The red currant has the same requirements as the black currant above but produces its red tart berries on two to three year old wood. Pruning is therefore different, generally consisting of cutting new growth back to create an open compact bush. For more information on pruning currant here is a good link…
Shrub up to 1.5m, moist fertile soil, sun/semi shade, mulch to keep roots cool, fruits on new wood, Dec- Jan. Cold hardy.
Red currant – Gloria de Versailles
Shrub up to 2m, moist fertile soil, sun/semi shade, mulch to keep roots cool, Fruits on older wood, large red berries, vigorous, Dec – Jan.
Red currant – Mangatoki
Shrub up to 2m, moist fertile soil, sun/semi shade, mulch to keep roots cool, Vigorous, prolific, small berries, Fruits on older wood, December.