Blackcurrants in UK Threatened by Warmer Winters

Researchers from the James Hutton Institute reported at the British Ecological Society’s annual meeting that milder winters could threaten blackcurrant production in the United Kingdom. Blackcurrants are a crop worth more than $12 million annually in the UK, used primarily for juice and as an ingredient. According to researchers, milder winters may cause blackcurrant crops to flower later in the year, produce fewer fruit, and have a reduced plant lifespan. Later harvests could also impact producers who share processing facilities with apple producers, because the currant producers may not have access to equipment at the appropriate time. “Blackcurrants have particularly high chill requirements and so are already seeing the effects of milder winters,” said Dr Katharine Preedy from Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland. “Blackcurrants are like the canary in the mine. If we can understand what they need in a changing climate, we can apply our knowledge to similar crops like blueberries, cherries, apples and plums,” Preedy added. The researchers noted that different varieties of blackcurrant respond to climate change differently, and understanding this could be crucial for producers.