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The Country Enterprise Handbook
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Growing soft fruits
...- Protection
...- Selling
...- Beds

Blackcurrants are the highest yielders of Vitamin C among home-grown fruits.

Many acres of blackcurrants are sold on contract to the producers of blackcurrant drinks. Blackcurrant jam must be well made or the currants are tough. It has been used traditionally to soothe sore throats and as a cold remedy. It does not sell in anything like the quantity of strawberry or raspberry jam. The fresh fruit does not sell in such quantity either through retail outlets. In fact, it is often not stocked very widely when in season and it may well be worth advertising to bring in custom.

There are new varieties that look like large blackcurrants available now. They taste of very little when eaten raw but when made into jam, they taste of blackcurrants. It is worth checking with the supplier of your plants what the varieties you are considering were bred for: these new varieties, which are heavy-yielding plants, would be ideal if you are intending to make jam but they would not bring a repeat order from a customer who eats them raw.

There are two major enemies of blackcurrants: big bud mite and reversion. If your plants do not fall prey to these, they may well fruit on happily for some thirty years. Plant new bushes during the winter, as early as possible. A mulch applied around them in May will protect the roots which are very near to the surface. They dislike being weeded.

Blackcurrants are produced on wood that grew the previous year so pruning must aim to cut out as much old wood as possible and to keep the required wood in a reasonable shape for harvesting. Many rows of blackcurrants are now harvested by machine. It has become popular to encourage a 'pick your own' trade to clear the bushes after the machines have passed as they often miss branches and sometimes whole plants. This kind of 'pick your own' will probably have a limited life as very few customers enjoy walking along endless clear rows to find the occasional loaded bush.

There is obviously more interest in picking fruits such as strawberries and raspberries that can be instantly consumed. However, often the clients for 'pick your own' currants are more knowledgeable than those who pick their own strawberries and raspberries. As the pickers may well appreciate what they are doing, it is worth considering 'pick your own' for currants even if you decide against it for the other fruits because of possible damage.