The Care of Red and White Currants
These are both grown in the same way and there are also but seldom seen, pink varieties. Their fruiting habit is quite different from the blackcurrant’s and they, therefore, need quite different pruning. Red currants produce most of their fruit on short spurs on old wood and at the base of new growths. Little is borne on the new wood. As with gooseberries, birds can be a nuisance in winter pecking out the buds. Where this occurs it is preferable to give protection. Otherwise delay pruning until early spring when, after first signs of growth are visible, you can make sure of pruning to sound buds.
If a one-year-old bush is planted there may be three or four branches. Cut all back by two-thirds, to outward-pointing buds so as to secure an open-centred bush.
In the second winter again cut back hard, by two-thirds, and remove entirely any ill-placed laterals. Shorten other laterals, not required as branches, to one bud.
By the third winter the bush should have sufficient main branches. In this and subsequent years shorten branch leaders by a half, always to outward-pointing buds. Shorten laterals to one bud. If in later years growth continues to be vigorous the leaders need only be tipped; if growth is weak, cut back harder.
Red currants grow well as cordons and are often used as single or double vertical cordons for filling odd spaces against walls or fences. The pruning is as for cordon gooseberries except that the laterals should be cut even more severely in winter-10 one or two buds.
It is easiest to use scissors, cutting off complete bunches at a time.
Give a February dressing of ¾ oz. per sq. yd. of sulphate of potash and every third year add superphosphate at 1 oz. per sq. yd. Follow this dressing in late April with -in, deep mulch of rotted manure or compost. If the mulching materials are likely to be unavailable include 1 oz. per sq. yd. of sulphate of ammonia in the February dressing and mulch in April with peat.
Recommended Varieties. Red Currants: Very early: Jonkheer Van test; Early: Laxton’s No. – Mid-season: Red Lake; Late: Wilson’s Long Bunch.
White Currants: Early: White Versailles; Mid-season: White Dutch.
Soil and Situation. As for black currants.
Planting. As for black currants, except that slightly less room may be allowed between the bushes, say 4 to 5 ft.. After planting, cut back to 8 or 9 in. of soil level.
Forms of Training. Red and white currants are almost invariably grown as bushes, but with a short leg or main trunk, not with sucker growths as for black currants.
Pruning. Both summer and winter pruning should be carried out.
SUMMER PRUNING is done in June and July, when all side growths (laterals) should be cut back a few at a time to five well-developed leaves each. Deal with the strongest growths first.
WINTER PRUNING is done at any time from late October until early February. Side growths are further cut back to two or three dormant buds each and leaders are shortened by about one-third their length. Some varieties produce numerous shoots with dead or poorly developed buds. Such should be cut hard back, to strong buds. If necessary, this can be done in the spring, when growth starts, if they are not noted before. Suckers are removed.
Routine Feeding. The same as for black currants.
Routine Pest Control. Usually unnecessary, but if caterpillars or aphids are troublesome, apply tartoil wash at ordinary strength early each January.
Propagation. By cuttings prepared and inserted in a similar manner to those of black currants, except that all buds on the lower half of each cutting should be nicked out with the point of a knife. This is to prevent sucker growth.
Varieties of Red Currant. Cherry, July; Earliest of Fourlands, July ; Fay’s Prolific, July—Aug.; Jonkheer van Tets, July; Laxton’s No. 1 July—Aug.; Laxton’s Perfection, July—Aug.; Raby Castle, Aug.; Radboud, Aug.; Red Lake, July—Aug.; Rivers’s Late Red, Aug.; Wilson’s Long Bunch, Aug.
Varieties of White Currant. Transparent, July—Aug.; White Dutch (White Grape), July—Aug.; White Versailles, July—Aug.
(The months are those in which the fruits normally ripen.)