"Cut and feed" must be the watchword in these mite-ridden days. Neglected bushes have no chance at all. Cut, cut, cut; and feed, feed, feed. If the old wood is pruned away relentlessly, and at the same time the soil is manured in order to encourage the production of fresh shoots, there will be a chance for Black Currants, but not otherwise. There are cultivators who will tell you that Black Currants need not be pruned, because they are young wood bearers, and not spur bearers. These excellent people forget that wood follows the knife. It is so with large trees, and it is so with small ones. If the wood that has borne fruit is not cut out it loses its freshness, and quickly becomes hard, twiggy, and budless. Then the lean years of the bush begin, and the grower suffers. The only way to keep a Black Currant bush continuously fruitful is to induce it to form a succession of fresh shoots year after year, like a Peach (see Fig. 17).

Fig. 17. Winter Pruning Black Currants.
Fig. 17. Winter Pruning Black Currants

References

A. natural bush: a, side of bush before pruning, the growths being rather thickly disposed and somewhat crowded with suckers; b, side of bush after pruning, the most promising branches, with young wood of the previous year, stubby shoots and spurs, being retained, and the long, bare, and straggling branches cut clean out or shortened to promising young growths lower down. The suckers must not be removed, but thinned if crowded, being removed then by the roots.

B, clean stemmed bush: c, side of bush before pruning; d, side of bush after pruning. The natural bush A is the result of inserting a cutting with all its buds. It is the most durable form.

The clean stemmed bush B is secured by removing all the buds of the cutting on the part that is inserted in the soil and also on the part above ground to a height of not less than 6 inches.

The Blade Currant must not be spur pruned, for it bears the finest fruit on the young shoots of the previous year.