Currants and gooseberries

m_taggart(7b)February 26, 2013

Does anyone grow these? I understand there are laws in place in NC that disallow the growing of currants and gooseberries. From what I can gather, this harkens back to the days when there were white pine plantations in the state and currants and gooseberries were blamed for the spread of white pine blister rust (WPBR). After some reading, it seems the biggest culprit for spreading WPBR is the European black currant (Ribes nigrum).

SO, would anyone have any fear/guilt about planting varieties that are resistant to WPBS? I'm looking for good shade fruit options, and gooseberries seem like a great choice, aside from the legality issues.

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In my experience they are tricky in the heat and humidity of zone 7b. Even the few people I know that grow them do not get many fruits.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 11:07AM
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They do well in part shade - I am near Winston-Salem. You may want to choose heat/disease resistant varieties like glendale, welcome, or pixwell. All 3 of these do well in partial shade and produce well if kept watered during summer droughts.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 4:01PM
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Shane, do you grow them? No nurseries seem willing to ship to NC due t restrictions. Where did you get yours?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 3:42PM
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Nurseries in Virginia and South Carolina sometimes carry them.

North Carolina will eventually come around and lift the ban. It may go to a county by county restriction like many other states.

White Pine is usually grown over in the mountains by the lumber industry. It doesn't grow well in the coastal plain or the piedmont.

White Pine Blister was brought to this country by the lumber industry when they imported saplings from Europe. The lumber industry in a panic over the spread of this devastating disease got the government to enact strict laws forbidding all Ribes species (gooseberries and currants) in home gardens and orchards. The government even went so far as to send out work crews that killed native Ribes in the woods. I get it. No one planned on this disease. No one knew anything about it when it was discovered. I can tolerate the restrictions while scientist work out a solution. I cannot tolerate the action of removing this native fruit from our forests - Ribes are important wildlife food.

The ban is being lifted everywhere because it didn't do any good - not because it was good policy. In the meantime both pines and berries are developing a natural resistance to the disease.

Most of the named cultivars have some degree of resistance. Most of the wild or older varieties do not.

White Pine Blister is only one of the many diseases this group of plants can get. It is easy to spot and a good gardener could easily prune away any diseased branches.

Someday NC will wake up.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 9:55AM
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I received them from a nursery in VA and WA. Some nurseries will ship these to NC. This law is not enforced in my area. There is a very public park near me growing 'pixwell' and nothing has ever been said. I know they have been there for at least 20 years - likely longer.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 4:58PM
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Thank you both for the thoughtful replies.

I have a little over 1/4 of an acre to work with and I am slowly adding fruit bearing plants to my edible landscape. I am considering currants or gooseberries for their ability to bear fruit in part shade.

I actually found White Imperial currants at Ison's Nursery for $7.95 and ordered 3 for the fall. They didn't seem to have a problem w/ shipping to me.

Any suggestions for prepping the soil, aside from working in organic matter and liming to the proper pH?

How about location? I'm guessing they prefer morning sun and some shade in the afternoon. Any idea what the minimum requirement for direct sun exposure is to get a yield?

Thanks again for the guidance.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 9:38AM
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My gooseberries and currants are sited where they get anywhere from 2-3 hours of direct sunlight during mid day and they grow and fruit very well. Morning sun afternoon shade is probably best. I do not do anything special to the soil other than add lots of compost when planting and I try to keep a thick layer as mulch added yearly. Ribes seem to thrive on organic matter. Fish emulsion would be a great fertilize added annually however many years I dont do this. However if you have a lot of wild animals around you might want to use some other fertilize.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 9:42AM
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