The blackcurrant or by its scientific name Ribes nigrum, is a deciduous shrub that is grown mainly for its fruits. These fruits are small berries with a strong and quite acidic flavor that are used above all in jams and jellies. Like any fruit-bearing plant, if you want to have a good harvest, you must carry out a correct pruning. In this post we will see in detail everything related to the pruning of the black currant bush. How to prune, what tools to use, when is the best time to prune, and more.
Although the most popular and most used is the blackcurrant, there are currants of other colors such as white, red or pink currant. They also have a sweeter flavor but lack many of the nutrients that black currants have.
Table of Contents
1. Tools for Pruning blackcurrants bush
The first thing you need to know when you have to prune any plant is what tools you will need to carry out the task. Black currants are shrubs no more than 1.5 m tall that produce a large number of thin branches.
Currant branches do not usually exceed 2 cm in diameter. And this diameter occurs in branches of several years, so the most common thing is that branches of no more than 1 cm in diameter have to be cut.
Knowing this detail you will realize that many tools are not necessary to prune this bush. You will be enough with a few simple hand scissors to carry out all the pruning of a black currant bush.
1.1 How to care for and disinfect your tools
You already know that simple manual pruning shears will be enough for the task, now we will see how to care for and disinfect these scissors. The care will allow you to extend the useful life of the scissors, while its disinfection will prevent you from spreading any disease from one plant to another.
The tips that I can give you to take care of your pruning shears are the following:
- Periodically carry out deep cleaning and greasing.
- Periodically sharpen the cutting blades. Pruning with poorly sharp tools produces messy cuts that damage the plant.
- If you have a wooden handle, try varnishing them to prevent cracking or splintering.
Regarding the disinfection of the scissors, I will give you three alternatives, all very efficient. You decide which method to use.
- Method 1: Using alcohol (ethanol) moisten the cutting blades of the scissors and let them sit for a few minutes. Once this is done you can use the scissors and start pruning.
- Method 2: Similar to the first method but with a 1/9 mixture of bleach and water, soak the blades. About 30 minutes of soaking in the mixture will suffice for proper disinfection.
- Method 3: The last but not the least effective method is to run the blades over a flame for a couple of seconds. This will kill any bacteria or viruses leaving the scissors properly disinfected.
2. When to prune blackcurrants
A correct pruning but done at the wrong time becomes a bad pruning, there is no doubt about that. That is why it is essential to be clear about the right time to prune a blackcurrant.
You may also be interested in knowing about pruning:
2.1 Prune blackcurrants in spring, summer, fall or winter?
This is a question that is asked very often. Some gardeners tend to prune during the winter, late winter, fall, or early spring. The important thing is to understand why you should prune at a certain time.
Pruning a blackcurrant should be done when the plant is dormant. Pruning it at that time prevents pruning cuts from causing large sap losses.
From the moment the gooseberry stops bearing fruit, you can start pruning. This is from late summer or early fall.
You can also prune during the winter or early spring. Try not to wait much longer than the first days of spring or the currant will become active, and as we said, it is better to prune it while it is asleep.
3. How to prune blackcurrants
The reason any fruit-bearing plant is pruned is to allow it to produce more and better fruit. That is why it is essential before starting to prune to understand the fruiting cycle of the bush. On the other hand, it is not the same to have a mature plant or a young plant, depending on the case the pruning will be different.
Having explained the above, you will understand why we will divide this section into three sections. In the first we will see how the fruiting cycle of a blackcurrant works, and then we will see how to prune a young blackcurrant and a mature and somewhat neglected one.
3.1 The habit and fruiting of the black currant
There are two key aspects to understand the functioning of this fruit bush. The first is that it grows bushy, generating a large number of branches. So this little bush is made up of dozens of branches.
The second point to consider on which branches it bears fruit. Unlike many fruit trees that flower on new wood, that is, on new shoots, the blackcurrant produces its fruits on 2-year-old wood. Branches over 4 or 5 years old concentrate their berries at the upper end, and since the sap must travel further to reach these fruits, the number of berries is lower on branches that are too old.
Summarizing what has been said so far, blackcurrants have many branches in their foliage, but not all of these branches produce the same number of fruits. The ideal age of fruiting of the branches is 2-3 years. After that time the amount of fruit will decrease.
3.2 How to prune a young blackcurrant?
Let’s start by seeing how a young specimen should be pruned. You will see that it is a fairly simple process. Follow these steps and you will have no problems:
- First year: to encourage the plant to generate stronger branches, it is recommended to cut all its branches at a height between 5 and 10 cm from the ground.
- Second year: come the second year you must do a pruning selecting the strongest branches and cutting the weakest. Also try to remove all those branches that are pointing down. In this way you will thin the foliage giving better air circulation and light entry.
- From the third year: from the third year, pruning is quite simple. You should cut a third of the foliage at ground level. Also, try to remove old and weak wood every year, as these will hardly bear fruit.
Of course it is always good to remember the importance of cleaning pruning. Take some time to cut off diseased, dead, or dying branches.
3.3 How to prune mature blackcurrant bushes?
It is essential that blackcurrants are pruned annually, this will allow the foliage to renew itself, keeping it healthier and more productive. If you neglect your blackcurrant for a couple of seasons, it will not be enough to cut a third of the foliage as indicated above, the pruning will have to be harder.
Fortunately, due to the characteristics of this shrub, it withstands hard pruning very well, so you can easily recover a somewhat neglected blackcurrant. This obviously if he is healthy.
What you should do in these cases is cut all the stems about 5 cm above the soil level. In the case of branches that are too long-lived and/or diseased, cut them at ground level.
In climates that are too cold, you can wait until the end of winter to do this heavy pruning, making sure the last frosts have passed. Otherwise, if you prefer to prune earlier, keep in mind that it should be protected from the cold during the winter.
4. How and when to prune blackcurrants video
To close the post we leave a video of the Nature Sense Gardening channel, where you can graphically understand several things that we saw so far. I hope it helps you. 🙂
You may also be interested in knowing about pruning:
- SUMMER PRUNING – thecaley.org.uk
- Organic Black Currant Production Manual – acornorganic.org
- RIBES GROWERS GUIDE – berrycrops.net