Stark Bro's Plant Manual for Rovada Red Currant

Getting Started

Planting

Few things are as delicious as homegrown berries, and the success of your harvest begins right with the planting site and method. For maximum growth and yields later on, give your plants the best foundation possible.

Before Planting

Before you plant, check your soil pH. Contact your local County Extension Office for information about soil testing in your area, or purchase one of our digital meters for quick and accurate results. Currants prefer a soil pH of 6.2-6.5, and gooseberries prefer a pH of 6.0-6.8. Steer clear of soils that are extremely heavy or poorly drained.

Planting Site

  • Pick a site with partial shade to full sun.
  • Because plants bloom very early in spring, they are susceptible to late season freezes. Choose a site that warms up slowly in the spring, to minimize this possibility.
  • Most soil will benefit from the addition of organic material such as shredded peat or compost.
  • Space the plants 3-6 feet apart in rows that are 6-8 feet apart.

Planting

  • After you receive your currants and gooseberries, prune off any damaged roots and cut the top back to 10 inches.
  • Dig the hole deeper and wider than the root system.
  • Set the plants with the lower branches a little below the soil level to encourage a bush form to develop.
  • Fill hole with remaining soil.
  • Fertilize and water your new plants. (If planting in the fall, wait to fertilize until spring for best results.)

Additional Notes

  • DO NOT plant currants within 300-900 feet of white pine trees, susceptible to white pine blister.
  • Pinch off the flowers of black currant plants the first year to establish a strong root and cane.
  • The lifespan of currant and gooseberry plants is 12-15 years with proper maintenance.
  • Suggested number of plants for a family of 5: 4-6 plants (1 plant per person).

Care & Maintenance

Fertilizing

Fertilize in early spring, before growth begins, use ¼ to ½ pound of balanced fertilizer. Apply fertilizer in a band around each bush, working it lightly into the soil from near the canes to a foot or so beyond the branch tips. A composted material rich in nitrogen, such as manure, also makes an excellent fertilizer and may be substituted for a balanced synthetic fertilizer.

Insects and Diseases

Every plant has the future potential for disease and insect damage. Factors such as location and weather will play a part in which issues your plants encounters. If available, disease-resistant varieties are the best option for easy care; and for all types of plants, proper maintenance (such as watering, pruning, spraying, weeding, and cleanup) can help keep most insects and diseases at bay.

Scale

Tan to gray 1/16” hard, scaly shell covers developing young. Usually on bark of young twigs and branches. Sap feeding weakens plant.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Rub off with burlap.

Cane Borer

Wilted tip on plants indicates a possibility of a little borer. If it breaks of readily, and is hollow, prune back branch until no longer hollow. Burn all pruning. Note: Follow all directions as indicated.

Natural Control

  • Cut infected canes at ground level and burn.

Other Control Options

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Anthracnose

Very small, round, brown spots appear first on lower, older leaves. Plants gradually lose leaves from bottom upwards. Other symptoms may include black, sunken spots on leaf stalks, light brown to pale yellow lesions on cane, black fly speck-like spots on green berries.

Natural Control

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control

Chemical Control

  • Hi-Yield® Lime Sulfur Spray

Botrytis Blight

Will appears as gray, hairy mold. Decays blossoms, green and ripening fruit as well as harvested fruit.

Natural Control

  • Raking and burning old leaves every fall.
  • Keep planting area free of weeds.
  • Good air circulation helps by allowing foliage to dry quickly after rain.
  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control

White Pine

Like cedar apple rust, double host disease. On leaves of Currants and Gooseberries, clusters of pinhead-size blisters on yellowed leaves. May be many new re-infections each summer. Alternate host is Eastern White Pine. Fatal to the pine, kills it limb by limb.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent
  • May be too many pines in customers area to try to grow. Minimum distance from berries to pines is 300-900 feet, according to state regulations.

Powdery Mildew

Whitish gray powdery mold or felt-like patches on leaves and green twigs. Leaves may be crinkly and cup inward. Over winters in fallen leaves. Fall clean up is essential.

Natural Control

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Cane Blight

As berries are maturing, nearing harvest, cane begins to die back. Leaves wilt and fruit shrivels. Disease can go downward thru bark and wood to main stem, girdling and killing it. Check for this several times each season.

Natural Control

  • Prune out infected canes and destroy.
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Other Control Options

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Mites

Pinpoint size, many different colors. Found on undersides of leaves. Severe infestations have some silken webbing. Sap feeding causes bronzing of leaves.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Aphids

They are the size of a pinhead and usually green or black in color. Cluster on stems and under leaves, sucking plant juices. Causes bright red, cupped condition or wrinkled areas on leaves.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Thrips

Small insects, less than 1/2” long, with feathery wings, yellow to brown in color. Cause damage if they lay eggs in fruit soon after bloom, scarring the fruit. In summer they feed on new vegetative growth, and damage summer fruit (not usually considered a problem).

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew

Rose Chafer

Beetles have 1/2” long, tan wings with reddish-brown edges and long thin hairy legs. Skeletonizes leaves and flowers. Present in large quantities in June and July. Worst on sandy sites near grassy areas.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Japanese Beetle

Adult is metallic green beetle. Skeletonizes leaves. Larva are grub which feeds on turf roots. This is more of a problem east of the Mississippi River.

Natural Control

  • Traps

Other Control Options

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Fruitworm

Adult is yellow to brown sawfly beetle, 1/4” long. Larvae are brown and white, 1/8” long. Adults make slits in flower buds and larvae feed on berries.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew

Omnivorous Leafroller

Adult is bell shaped, blackish gray snout-like mouthparts, forewings dark rusty brown with tan tips. Over winters in larval stage in mummified berries, in weeds and other trash. Moths emerge in spring and lay egg masses on leaves. Eggs hatch in 5 days and larvae tie two young leaves together to form nest in which they feed. Does not roll leaves. Later nests can be found in flower clusters and in bunches. Damage is not only from feeding on leaves, flowers and berries, but feeding sites allows rot organisms to enter fruit.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Thuricide® Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT)

Pruning

Pruning is an important part of proper edible plant care, but many people find the task overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be! Keep these things in mind:

  • You can have confidence in knowing that not everyone will prune the exact same way (even the experts).
  • There are several reasons to prune: to encourage vigorous growth and fruit production, improve sun penetration into the bush, and maintain good air circulation to minimize diseases.

Pruning Tips

  • Each spring, prune away weak and crowding branches, leaving only several shoots from each year’s growth.
  • Prune off all 3-year-old branches to make room for more fruitful, younger branches.
  • Black currants produce best on 1-year wood. Branches that produced the preceding year should be removed.

Spraying

Spraying is important to the survival of your plants. To handle potential diseases and pests, reference the guidelines below to know what you should spray, and when you should use it.

Before you begin, read and follow all instructions on labels.

When To Spray

At the First Sign of:

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control for anthracnose, botrytis blight and powdery mildew.
  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew for thrips and fruitworm.
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray for scale, powdery mildew, mites, aphids, blight and thrips.

After Bud Break

  • Hi-Yield® Lime Sulfur Spray for anthracnose.

By Plant

Currants

At the First Sign of:

  • Bonide® Thuricide® Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) for omnivorus leafroller.

Watering

If you receive about an inch of rainfall every 10 days or so, your plants will be fine. If it gets really dry, you can give your new plants a good, thorough soaking with a hose. The best way to do this is to let your garden hose trickle slowly. This gives the water a chance to soak in instead of running off. You can also use a soaker hose to water several plants at once.

Harvesting

Are you ready to enjoy delicious homegrown fruit? Harvest is the time to enjoy the results of your hard work. Keep a few things in consideration as you reap the fruits of your labor: the best time to pick the fruit from your tree, and how to store the fruit.

When to Harvest

You can expect your first harvest in the third season. Currants and gooseberries are ready to harvest in late June to mid July when the fruit is full size and soft. One-way to test if the berries are ripe is to squeeze gently between your fingers, they will be soft when they are ripe.

Depending on the variety, the color of the ripe fruit will vary:

  • Currants can be red, black, white or pink
  • Gooseberries are usually red or green.

Currants form on clusters for easy harvest, but gooseberries have needle like thorns that slow harvest down. When harvesting currants make sure to cut the entire fruit cluster. When using the berries for jam, harvest before they are fully ripe that way the natural pectin levels of the fruit are higher.

Annual average yield:

  • Per currant plant, 3-4 quarts
  • Per gooseberry plant, 4-5 quarts

Storage

Refrigerate berries immediately in a covered container or closed bag and they will keep for several weeks.