Red currants are plants belonging to the species Ribes rubrum. More specifically, it is a shrub with a bramble appearance, with thin, highly branched stems. Its leaves are deciduous. They measure between 5 and 7cm and are composed of 3-5 leaflets with irregularly toothed edges. They are used for their fruits, small round berries of a variable red color. To improve the harvest of these fruits it is essential to know how to prune the Redcurrants. For this reason, we have written this post, to help you pruning correctly. 😉
A few months ago we dedicated an article to the pruning of the blackcurrant, if you read that post you will find that there are no big differences. In any case, certain details change, so if you have a red currant at home, it is better to follow the advice that I will leave you here.
Table of Contents
1. What tools you need?
To prune a red currant bush, you will need some basic gardening tools, such as:
- Pruning shears or pruning shears: they are very useful tools for cutting small and medium-sized branches with ease and precision. Pruning shears are perfect for branches up to 2 cm in diameter.
- Pruning Saw: This is a useful tool for larger branches, usually more than 2 cm in diameter. The pruning saw is very effective at cutting thicker branches that pruning shears cannot cut.
- Gardening gloves: It is important to protect your hands during pruning to avoid injuries. Gardening gloves allow you to work with pruning tools safely.
- Safety glasses: Safety glasses protect your eyes from possible injuries by branches or other objects that can fly out during pruning.
It is important to choose quality tools so that they last longer and can cut with ease. Be sure to keep pruning tools sharp and clean before using them. Also remember to follow the proper pruning techniques so as not to damage the bush and so that it grows in a healthy way.
1.1 How to care for and disinfect your tools
Taking care of your tools will allow you to extend their life. While disinfecting them will help you avoid a possible spread of diseases from one plant to another.
Let’s start by quickly reviewing the care:
- Use the right tool for a job and avoid twisting or straining it.
- Clean and oil tools regularly by wiping an oily cloth on blades and other surfaces.
- Keep cutting edges sharp by regularly using an oilstone.
- Wooden handles should be varnished or regularly treated with linseed oil to keep them from cracking or splintering.
I personally know three simple methods to disinfect your tools, and they are the following:
- Method 1: rub the scissors blades with a cloth dipped in alcohol (ethanol). After cleaning, allow the tool to sit for a couple of minutes for maximum disinfection efficiency.
- Method 2: prepare a mixture 1/9 of chlorine and water (one part of chlorine and 9 of water). Then soak the scissors for half an hour in that mixture. After those 30 minutes you can start pruning.
- Method 3: this third method is effective but from my point of view not so recommended. Here what you should do is pass the blade for a few seconds through a flame. This will disinfect but also burn the blade.
2. Why you should prune Redcurrants?
In fruit bushes such as currants, what we are looking for with pruning is to facilitate and accelerate their fruiting. Removing certain branches allows us to keep the fruit tree in the best possible condition and in the future favor and increase the collection of fruits.
It is important to note that if your red currant is too vigorous it will have a tendency to only make wood and therefore not produce much fruit. And on the contrary, if the plant is covered in fruit, it will end up dying of exhaustion. This is because all the sap produced will serve to feed the fruits to the detriment of the tree.
The ideal is to start pruning from the youth of the currant, and maintain regular pruning throughout the life of the plant. In short, you must prune these plants to improve their health, increase production and form the plant in a balanced way.
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2. When to prune Redcurrants?
When defining an ideal time to prune a redcurrant, it must be clear that there are different types of pruning. With each pruning we pursue different objectives and these impact the plant in different ways.
In any case, and to simplify the explanation, we can say that there are two times of the year when you can prun a currant:
- Winter pruning: it is done at the end of winter, just before the beginning of spring. The goal is to remove any dead, diseased, or damaged branches, as well as reduce the size of the bush to encourage stronger, more vigorous growth.
- Summer pruning: it is done after the currants have been harvested, generally in July. The goal is to remove branches that have already borne fruit and stimulate the growth of new branches that will bear fruit next year.
If you prune at the wrong time, there may be negative consequences for the bush. The harder the pruning, these effects will be greater. Early pruning can cause some new growth to freeze over in the last cold winter. While pruning too late can interfere with the flowering and fruit set of the shrub.
In any case, performing cleaning pruning will never have too harmful effects, especially if what you have to cut are diseased branches, you should not pay attention to the time of year. The sooner you cut these branches, the better.
3. How to prune Redcurrants?
As we mentioned earlier, pruning these shrubs is something that needs to start from the very early stages of the plant. Therefore, let’s start by looking at how you should prune your red currant in the first year of life.
3.1 Prune in the first year
The first pruning should be done once winter has arrived, when the currant has had a whole vegetative cycle (spring/summer) to develop its size. At that time you should proceed as follows:
1) Cut all the shoots that sprout from the base. As a general rule, remove all branches that grow 4 inches or less from the ground. If you don’t cut them, these branches will seek to compete with the main trunk of the currant, taking away its strength.
2) Prune all branches to half their length. In this way we seek to encourage new shoots to densify the foliage.
3) Remove any branches or shoots that develop in the center of the bush. Make sure you have 4 main branches growing from the main trunk.
3.2 Prune in the second year
The pruning that you will have to carry out in the second winter, that is, the second year of life of your red currant will be as follows:
1) Shorten new main shoots on existing branches in half.
2) Select up to six other strong, well-placed shoots and cut them in half.
3) Cut weak side shoots back to a bud to encourage stronger growth.
Once the first two years have passed, the plant will already have a good structure. The other pruning that will be carried out will be maintenance pruning. The regularity of these pruning is important, every year you should do it.
3.3 Established redcurrant pruning
1) Prune to one bud all shoots that grew from framework branches or spurs in the previous growing season.
2) While there is still space for the bush to fill, cut 5-7 cm (2-3 in) from the tips of brach leaders to stimulate new growth.
3) Remove an older, unproductive or unhealthy-looking branch, cutting to a vigorous shoot that will take its place. Leave this shoot unpruned.
4) Remove low branches, when carrying a crop, their fruits will be vulnerable to rodents and other pests on the ground.
3.4 Pruning Redcurrants diagram
For a better understanding of what was explained in the previous section, I will leave you the diagrams of the pruning of a red currant. Undoubtedly, these diagrams will help you to make the pruning you do successful. 😉
4. Pruning Red currants video
To finish the post, and as we do on many occasions in this blog, we have selected a good video (from Alison Bockh channel) where you can see how this gardener prunes her red currant.
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