This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
The black and red currants bear most of their fruit on wood of different ages; hence the pruning of one is a little different from the other. The black currant bears most of its fruit on wood of the previous season's growth, and it is important always to have a plentiful supply of one-year-old healthy wood. The red and white currants produce their fruit on spurs which develop from the wood two or more years of age, and it is important in pruning red and white currants to have a liberal supply of wood two years and older; but, as the fruit on the very old wood is not so good as that on the younger, it is best to depend largely on two- and three-year-old wood to bear the fruit. A little pruning may be necessary at the end of the first season after planting in order to get the bush into shape. From six to eight main stems, or even less, with their side branches, will, when properly distributed, bear a good crop of fruit. Future pruning should be done with the aim of having from six to eight main branches each season and a few others coming on to take their places. By judicious annual pruning, the bush can be kept sufficiently open to admit light and sunshine.
A good rule is not to have any of the branches more than three years of age, since when kept down to this limit the wood will be healthier, stronger growth will be made, and the fruit will be better.
A currant plantation will bear a great many good crops if well cared for, but if neglected the bushes lose their vigor in a few years. The grower will have to decide by the appearance of the bushes when to renew the plantation; but as a currant plantation can be renewed at comparatively little labor, it is best to have new bushes coming on before the old ones show signs of weakness. At least six good crops may be removed with fair treatment, and ten or more can be obtained if the bushes are in rich soil and well cared for. When one has only a few bushes for home use, they may be reinvigorated by cutting them down to the ground in alternate years, and thus securing a fresh supply of vigorous young wood.
The red currant is one of the most regular in bearing of all fruits, and as it is naturally productive, the average yield should be large. Bailey, in the "Farm and Garden Rule-Book," puts the average yield at 100 bushels per acre. Card, in his book on "Bush-Fruits," says that it ought to be 100 to 150 bushels, "with good care," and reports 320 bushels. At the Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, Canada, the Red Dutch averaged for four years at the rate of 7,335 pounds to the acre, or over 183 bushels. The largest yield from red currants obtained at the Central Experimental Farm was in 1900, when six bushes of the Red Dutch currant yielded 73 pounds, 15 ounces of fruit. The bushes were 6 by 5 feet apart. This means a yield at the rate of 17,892 pounds to the acre, or, at 40 pounds per bushel, 447 bushels 12 pounds to the acre. The same variety in 1905, in a new plantation, yielded 55 1/2 pounds from six bushes, or at the rate of 13,431 pounds to the acre, or 335 bushels 31 pounds. These are very large yields, and while half of this amount may not be expected in ordinary field culture, the fact that such yields can be produced on a small area should be an inspiration to get more on a larger one.
The average yield of black currants has been somewhat less than the red, although individual yields have been large. The Saunders currant yielded for four years at the rate of 6,534 pounds to the acre, or over 163 bushels; the Kerry at the rate of 6,382 pounds to the acre, or over 159 bushels. The highest yield of black currants was obtained in 1905, when six bushes of Kerry planted 6 by 5 feet apart, yielded 62 pounds of fruit, or at the rate of 15,004 pounds to the acre, equal to 375 bushels, estimating at 40 pounds to the bushel.
The red currant makes excellent jelly, and its popularity is largely due to this fact. A large quantity of red currant jelly is made every year in Canada. Red currants are used to a less extent for pies and as jam and are also eaten raw with sugar. As a fruit for eating out - of - hand, the red currant is not very popular, but there are few fruits so refreshing. The white currants are better liked for eating off the bush than the red, as they are not so acid. The Moore Ruby is a red variety, however, which is milder than most others, and for this reason is better adapted for eating raw. The red currant does not vary so much in quality as the black.
Red currants will remain in condition on the bushes for some time after ripening, and therefore do not have to be picked so promptly as the black.
Varieties. Varieties of red currants vary considerably in hardiness, the Cherry, Fay, Comet, Versaillaise, Wilder and others, while bearing very large fruit, are decidedly more tender than some of the others, hence they should not be planted in the coldest parts. The Franco-German and Prince Albert currants are later than most other varieties, and when it is desired to lengthen the season, these may be planted.
Varieties of red and white currants recommended: Red-for general culture-Pomona, Victoria, Cumberland Red, Red Dutch, Long Bunched Holland, Red Grape. Where bushes are protected with snow in winter, and for the milder districts. - Pomona, Victoria, Cumberland Red, Wilder, Cherry, Fay, and Red Cross. White. - White Cherry, Large White, White Grape.
There are not so many black currants grown in America as red, but there is a steady demand for them, and it is thought there will be an increasing demand as they become better appreciated. They make excellent jelly and the merits of black currant jam have long been known.
Black currants vary considerably in season, yield and quality, and therefore it is important to know those that are the best. As most varieties of black currants drop badly from the bushes as soon as ripe, it is important to pick them in good time.
Fig. 1153. Native black currant-Ribes fioridum. The fruit is immature. (X 1/2)
Varieties of black currants recommended: Saunders, Collins Prolific, Buddenborg, Victoria, Boskoop Giant. Of those not yet on the market which are considered equal or better than those above, the following are the best: Kerry, Eclipse, Magnus, Clipper, Climax and Eagle, and the Success, for an early variety when yield is not so important as size and quality.
This is a variety of the Buffalo or Missouri currant (Ribes odoratum). A tall, strong, moderately upright grower; moderately productive. Fruit varies in size from small to large, in small, close bunches; bluish black, skin thick; sub-acid with a peculiar flavor. Quality medium. Ripens very unevenly. Season late July to September. As this variety ripens after the others, the birds concentrate on it and get a large proportion of the fruit.