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Gooseberries and Currants

Gooseberries and currants (Ribes spp.) have enjoyed great popularity in the past, particularly in Europe, where in the 1800s as many as 722 gooseberry varieties were in existence, and "gooseberry clubs" were established by enthusiasts. Most of the European varieties were large fruited and sweet as a result of centuries of selection and breeding, while American types had less desirable flavor and more disease resistance. The gooseberries grown today are primarily hybrids of these two types, offering good flavor as well as disease (mildew) resistance. Although they seldom are eaten fresh due to their tart flavor, both red and white currants make excellent jams and jellies. Gooseberries and currants are woody perennial shrubs that reach a height of 3 to 6 feet when mature. Unlike other fruiting plants, they will tolerate partial shade. Plants are self-fruitful and, therefore, do not require two or more varieties for adequate pollination. Currants and gooseberries also are very winter hardy, tolerating temperatures as low as -22 to -31°F.

Confusion often exists about the legality of growing gooseberries and currants since up until 1966 a federal ban prohibited the growth of Ribes.

Under most conditions, insects are not perennially serious pests of currants and gooseberries; however, certain insects occasionally will become abundant enough to cause serious damage if left uncontrolled.

The more common diseases found on currants and gooseberries are anthracnose, leaf spot, and powdery mildew. Other diseases of less importance are cane blight or wilt, botrytis dieback and gray mold berry rot, white pine blister rust, and virus infections. The most common virus disease is currant mosaic.

Many cultural methods such as pruning and sanitation practices will help in keeping disease organisms out of your plantings.

Gooseberries and currants (Ribes spp.) have enjoyed great popularity in the past, particularly in Europe, where in the 1800s as many as 722 gooseberry varieties were in existence, and "gooseberry clubs" were established by enthusiasts. Most of the European varieties were large fruited and sweet as a result of centuries of selection and breeding, while American types had less desirable flavor and more disease resistance.

Listing of gooseberry and currant that are less susceptible to being the alternate host for White pine blister rust.