Properly cut currants – Getting the highest yield

red currant
red currant

Currants produce the highest yields when they are pruned immediately after harvest in summer. Here is how to prune currants professionally.

Currants are very hardy and easy to cultivate berry bushes and a real magic bullet for any food lover. Their round, tart fruits are popular with young and old and are perfect for processing in the kitchen to make cakes, jelly or desserts. To enjoy a bountiful harvest, you should prune your currant immediately after harvest. Here is what you should pay attention to.

Currants: Choosing the right location

Currant bushes require a humus-rich, evenly moist soil and a sunny location, which should, however, be somewhat protected in locations prone to late frost. A layer of bark mulch provides the necessary soil moisture, it also protects the somewhat frost-sensitive root system in cold winters. Plant new currants so deep that the top edge of the root ball is covered by about 5 cm(2 in) of soil. This will encourage the formation of new ground shoots and reduce the effect of frost.

Shrub or standard?

Many amateur gardeners prefer the standard currant stems grafted on long rooted canes of golden currant (Ribes aureum) because of the appearance. They have a slender trunk and a dense, compact crown. High-stemmed currant bushes take up less space than bushes, but they are not as productive and long-lived as currant bushes. Therefore, those who have the appropriate space in the garden and want a decent harvest, should choose the bush.

Loss of blossoms

Trickling is a phenomenon that also occasionally occurs in grapevines. The berry bushes drop some of their flowers during drought or after late frosts, for example. This is a natural reaction to unfavorable weather conditions, similar to fruit drop in apples and plums. Another reason for trickling is low temperatures during flowering, they result in only a small portion of the flowers being pollinated. If you plant several currant varieties close together and take care to keep the soil evenly moist, you can keep trickling of your currants to a minimum. While berry bushes are basically self-fertilizing, several plants of different varieties in a small space will ensure that as many flowers as possible are pollinated.

How to cut red and white currants?

Red and white currants form most of the fruit on the side shoots of the two- to three-year-old main branches. From the fourth year, the yield already decreases noticeably. Therefore, remove the two to three oldest main shoots near the ground each year after harvest. It is important that the shoots are taken out completely and that no short stub remains. Since the old fruiting branches are too strong for pruning shears, you should use either loppers or a small pruning saw for pruning.

Thinning pruning for vigorous growth

Thinning pruning creates space for the long young shoots to grow back near the ground and provides good exposure for the berries next year. Leave two to three strong, well-placed specimens of the new shoots as replacements for the removed main shoots; the remaining new ground shoots are also cut off or, better yet, pulled out. These measures will ensure that your currant bush has a maximum of eight to twelve main shoots that are no older than four years.

Cut side shoots

After removing the old main branches, the side shoots of the younger ones are removed. First, all branches of these so-called leading branches are removed down to a height of about 30 to 40 cm (12 to 16 in). Side shoots close to the ground are of no interest for fruiting, as the berries would not ripen well anyway due to lack of sunlight. Steeply rising competing shoots of the leading branches are also removed ,they unnecessarily condense the currant bush without bearing fruit themselves.

Encourage fruiting shoots

All side shoots that have already borne fruit are also cut back to about one centimeter (0.4 in) long cones immediately after harvesting or in the following spring at the latest. New fruiting shoots will emerge from these, which will bear fruit again the year after next at the latest. All newly formed side shoots remain uncut, they ensure the harvest for the coming year. However, if the new side shoots are very close together (less than ten centimeters apart), you should also cut back every other one to a short cone. If in doubt, leave fewer fruiting shoots. The less fruiting wood the shrub has, the more vigorously the new ground shoots grow, which are needed to rejuvenate the crown.

black currant
black currant

How to cut black currants?

No rule without exception, so it is with currants: Black currants are pruned somewhat differently than red and white, as the black variety bears the best fruit on the long, one-year-old side shoots. This allows for “all-around pruning,” which is also a great way to keep the bushes in shape. When pruning, one basically removes all weak shoots at the base and on the main branches. In addition, each spring cut off the main branches directly above the second or third long side shoots. As with red currants, the oldest main shoots are removed completely, leaving a corresponding number of new shoots from the base of the bush.

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