Currants and Gooseberries
Currants and gooseberries are shrubby bush fruits that bear colorful spring flowers and abundant berries that are tasty when processed. They do well on almost any Northwest soil of average fertility. They can grow on soil that has poor drainage and will do well in partial shade.
- Red Currants - Red Lake, Perfection, and Wilder.
- White Currants - White Imperial.
- Black Currants - Consort and Crusader.
- Gooseberries - Poorman (red), Pixwell and Captivator (pink), Oregon Champion (thornless).
- Jostaberries - Black currant and gooseberry hybrid.
- Plant dormant stock when available for late winter planting.
- Set plants five feet apart.
- Mulch the soil because of the shallow root system.
- Plants may be grown as free standing plants or in hedge rows.
- Prune to maintain vigorous two, three, or four-year old wood. Prune old canes back to ground level.
- Harvest is slow. Currants ripen over two weeks, gooseberries over four to six weeks.
Diseases and Pests
- Powdery mildew is the major disease.
- Currant fruit fly may infest some fruits.
- Imported currantworm can defoliate bushes in a matter of days.
Niche marketing must be done to introduce people to these products. Although they were a mainstay in old gardens, currants were not planted for many years until a ban was lifted in 1966 allowing for widespread planting once again. Black currant juice is a favorite of many European countries.
Written by Jim Kropf, WSU Area Extension Agent, King/Pierce Counties