Most currants will be producing fruit by now, so we thought it was a good time to take a quick look at harvesting and caring for your currant plants.
Pests & Diseases:
All currants are delicious to birds, so the number one job is to net them as soon as fruits start to ripen (unless of course you are growing plants in a fruit cage!) The list of aphids and fungal diseases is long, so without going into it in some detail we would simply advise that you keep vigilant – if you see signs of disease (spots on leaves etc) cut off the affected foliage ASAP. For aphids, put something yellow and sticky nearby to deter them (a yellow bucket smeared in vaseline usually works), and use a hose to spray off any that you find on the plants as early as you can. In addition, a healthy plant is more able to fend off pest and disease so keep plants well mulched and well watered.
If your berries are all ripe at the same time, then you can cut them off as bunches of fruit which is far easier than picking them off individually (unfortunately, this is what you will need to do if they don’t all ripen at the same time – sorry!) Blackcurrants can be harvested as soon as it turns colour, however white, pink and red currants need a little more time to sweeten up, so leave them a week or so after they change colour before harvesting them.
In the summer, you can prune the new growth of red, pink and white currant, leaving 5 or 6 leaves. This will encourage fruits to form.
In the winter, prune when the plants are dormant. For blackcurrants, remove all weak shoots at the base to leave 8-10 healthy, strong shoots on the plant. Do this for the first 4 years. For older plants, cut about a third of the older stems right back to the base and remove any weak, leaning shoots. For white, pink and red currants, simply prune the sideshoots back to 2 buds, and the leaders in the middle by one third.
Growing in containers:
You will need to repot plants every 2 to 3 years, to give them fresh compost and a bit more space for their roots.