Black currants are a good crop to grow as they produce lots of berries high in Vitamin C and anti-oxidants.
The plants are quite easy to grow without many pests, however they will need netting against birds.
The bush produces bunches of of tart dark purple to black berries that are good for using in pies, jams, jellies and cordials or frozen for later use. A mature bush should yield 6 kilo of berries.
If you are just stating out with Blackcurrants, there a few things you must do to get good returns;
Select a site partly shielded from the north and easterly winds. Dig manture in deep, as this crop is a heavy feeder and needs lots of rich, heavy soil.
Give the plant plenty of space to grow by allowing at least six feet between each bush. Black Currants are easily increased by taking cuttings during October/November/December. Make sure that you select young, healthy plants with well-ripened wood, making each cutting about fourteen inches in length.
Do not remove the basal buds– that is the buds that would be below the soil after the insertion of the cutting. This is important to make sure that Black Current plant is bushy in growth. These cuttings should be inserted firmly to a depth of four inches in sandy soil.
The first year after insertion, the plant cuttings should be encouraged to throw out side branches by pinching out their top. Expect at least 75% of these cuttings to take .
How to Prune Black Currants
Black Currants fruit on the young wood, which means that as much of the old wood that can be spared must be annually cut out. A well grown Black Currant bush has plenty of basal growth. If these are allowed to remain at full length, they will replace branches that are destroyed by pruning.
This pruning should be done any time after the crop has been gathered, and the earlier the better. The reason is that the young branches that are left make quick progress once the rooting system is relieved of the burden of supporting old and useless wood.
The side growths are shortened to within two or three buds of their bases.This is called winter pruning, which is generally carried out in January. In summer the same bushes may be pruned by just pinching out the tops of the leading growths and reducing side shoots so that five or six leaves remain on each. Summer pruning not only induces the basal buds on the pruned shoots to develop, but also helps the crop to mature quickly by allowing more light and air.
There can be no question that if this system of pruning is more generally adopted, we should hear less about the pest know as “big bud. Big bud is a mite that infests the buds of black currants. Look for the Big Ben variety which is resistant to this particular mite.
Water blackcurrants during dry periods in the growing season. Mulch around the plant in late winter using well-rotted manure to suppress weeds. Be careful with hoeing, especially near near the base of the bush which might cut through new shoots.
Re-pot container-grown blackcurrants every two or three years. Pot back into the same container or one slightly larger. Trim back some of the roots, take away the old soil and replace it with fresh compost.
Harvest black currants by gathering bunches of berries (known as strigs) as they turn black. This would be done with the Ben series of cultivars. If you are growing an older varietiy, the berries ripen individually and will need to be picked individually.
Use the berries fresh a few days after harvesting or freeze them for later use in pies, jams, jellies and cordials.
When you discover how to grow blackcurrants, you will happily benefit from its wonderful fruit with its anti-oxidant capabilities.