Answer: Gooseberry and currants are closely related (both are Ribes spp. ) and have relatively the same management requirements. Currants have three different distinct varieties--black, red, and white. Gooseberry varieties range from greenish-white to red. While they will tolerate a wide range of soils, a well-drained soil high in organic matter will bring the highest yields.
Plant gooseberries four to five feet apart. Currants and gooseberries have relatively little pest pressure. White pine blister rust used to be a big problem with Ribes species, but there are resistant varieties available now (see below). Mature plants will yield four to five pounds of fruit per bush. Gooseberries have thorns and this should be a consideration in the harvesting of fruit.
General Pest Management Issues
Birds can be a significant problem on small fruits. Netting, raptor perches, and bird alarms are effective tactics for managing birds in fruit orchards.
It is critical to create a space that has very little weed pressure, since the perennial nature of these crops will make cultivation difficult. This can be done through cover cropping before planting, and mulching the shrubs annually after planting. Mulching also helps to keep the soil cool and moist during the typically dryer and hotter months of summer, and gooseberries and currants would respond well to this.
There are several thousand varieties of gooseberries: 3004 red, 675 yellow, 925 green, 280 white. In general, gooseberry varieties fall into two categories: the small fruited but mildew-resistant American gooseberry (Ribes hirtellum) and the larger European gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa). However, most varieties in the U.S. are hybrids of the above two species, one American and one European.
Some Gooseberry Varieties Resistant to White Pine Blister Rust
Hinnomaki Red is a dark red, medium-sized fruit from Finland, with an outstanding flavor. Its outer skin is tangy, while the flesh is sweet.
Amish Red is a new large-fruited and flavorful variety with excellent disease resistance.
Poorman originated in Utah, the result of an American X European type cross, and was introduced in 1888. Don't let the name fool you as it is one of the larger, better flavored, fresh-eating type of gooseberry. It is equally good for pies, jams, and other processed products.
Thomas, Andrew. 2008. Elderberry Trials Bear "Fruitful" Results. Southwest Center Ruminations Newsletter. University of Missouri Agriculture Experiment Station. Jan–Mar. Vol. 14 No. 1. http://aes.missouri.edu/swcenter/news/archive/v14n1/swrc3.stm
New Crops Opportunities Center. 2008. Gooseberries and Currants. University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. http://www.uky.edu/Ag/CDBREC/introsheets/currants.pdf
California Rare Fruit Growers Association. 1996. Gooseberry. California Rare Fruit Growers Association website.
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