Currant bushes can bear fruit in large quantities. But for a good harvest, they also need to be cut regularly.
Perfect for canning or simply for snacking in between – growing currants ( Ribes ) in your own garden is always worthwhile. The berries of the gooseberry family ( Grossulariaceae ) show themselves in different colors, which have very different care requirements. The annual cut of the currants is of great importance for a lush harvest, otherwise, the bushes will age. We’ll show you when and how best to cut your currants.
The longest grapes with the largest red or white currants arise on the annual side shoots, which start from the main shoots, which are usually two to three years old. Therefore, the aim of the pruning is that enough of these side shoots always grow, which then bear fruit in the next year.
Likewise, there must always be enough young man shoots, as shoots only form isolated side shoots with few, small fruits after about three years. In the first few years, due to the pruning when planting, enough young man shoots and side shoots also grow on them. Here the upbringing, which is carried out in the first one to two years after planting, ensures that six to eight so-called scaffold shoots – or main shoots – form a beautiful bush.
From the third to fifth year, the older shoots have to be removed so that the shrub is stimulated to develop new ones. In the case of black currants, which mainly produce their fruits on the side shoots of the annual shoots, a constant regrowth of new main shoots has to be ensured.
Cutting currants: The education cut
As already mentioned, the upbringing cut serves to establish scaffold shoots – these are the shoots emerging from the ground, on which the fruit-bearing side shoots then arise. They give the bush its bushy shape. When planting the currants, five to six shoots are usually left. A few more will form in the following year. In the summer or autumn of the year after planting, at the latest in the following February, the currant bush is first examined more closely. Beautiful, outward-growing scaffold shoots are left, weak, inward-growing shoots are cut off.
Shoots that grow in the completely wrong place because there is a nicer shoot right next to them are removed close to the ground, whereas shoots that potentially grow up out of the ground in the right place, but have developed in the wrong direction, above the lowest, outward buds are to be cut off. Do the same for the following year. After two to three years you should have achieved the goal of being able to call a beautiful bush with six to eight scaffold shoots your own.
The right time to cut the currants
As with the training pruning, you should also carry out all future pruning measures, if possible after the harvest or in February. When pruning in February, you must do it before the foliage sprouts. In the summer before the harvest, the currant bush is also thinned out by motivated gardeners. Thanks to the better exposure, this promotes the formation of the flower buds on the remaining shoots for the coming year.
Cutting currants: instructions
First of all, when cutting currants, it is important to know exactly what type it is. Red ( Ribes rubrum ) and white ( Ribes Sativa ) currants produce their fruits mainly on the annual side shoots of the two to three-year-old main shoots. With black currants ( Ribes nigrum ), the fruits grow predominantly on the side shoots of the annual main shoots. This is of great importance when cutting.
In general, the following applies: Whenever enough new, young man shoots have already grown, the old shoots are cut off close to the ground without a stump, because this reduces the risk of infection for diseases. If not enough new shoots have grown from the rhizome, an old shoot is cut back to a low-lying side shoot on the last outward-facing bud or a stump. The goal of these pruning methods is that the pruned shoot sprouts again.
Instructions for cutting red and white currants:
- The goal is 8 – 12 strong, this year to three-year-old main shoots.
- In the case of red and white currants, cut back all main shoots that are older than four to five years for deep-set, strong side shoots, or close to the ground (if there are no suitable side shoots or enough new shoots have grown out of the rootstock). You can recognize old shoots by the darker wood. Markings with plant wire in different colors also help to identify old shoots.
- After removing the old shoots, select the 8-12 strongest shoots and cut off the remaining shoots close to the ground.
- In the selected 8-12 shoots, the side shoots that have borne fruit this year are cut back down to a stub on the main shoot. From the newly grown side shoots that have not yet borne fruit, up to 8 pencil-thick shoots that are as flat as possible are left per the main shoot. Higher side shoots are preferred to lower ones (less light). If there are more, they are cut off directly on the main shoot.
- All thin, weak, or diseased ground shoots are removed close to the ground, even if there are then only 7 main shoots, for example.
- In the case of slow-growing plants, shorten annual shoots by about a third. This improves branching, i.e. the formation of new side shoots.
Instructions for cutting black currants:
Black currants mainly bear fruit on the annual shoots. So the cut aims to encourage new main shoots.
- When enough young shoots grow up from the rootstock, cut the harvested shoots close to the ground. If fewer than 8 new shoots have grown, divert the old shoots to young side shoots. So you cut off the shoot immediately above a strong, deeply attached side shoot. Likewise, cutting off a shoot directly above an outwardly protruding, deep-seated bud can encourage the formation of a new shoot.
- Then cut off weak and diseased shoots as well as disturbing, drooping, too steeply growing or very deep side shoots.
- The goal is around 10 young main shoots.
These products are ideal for cutting your shrubs, hedges, and trees:
- Felco Secateurs: Manual pruning shears, pruning shears, and garden shears are recommended for all types of cutting. In addition to plastic-coated handles, it has a precision adjustment system for the blade and anvil blade.
- Felco fruit tree and secateurs: Robust fruit tree and secateurs with wire cutter, juice groove, and micrometer adjustment.
- Gardena telescopic arm scissors: Practical secateurs for effortless cutting of tall trees and dense shrubs from the ground.
Cutting currants: summer cutting
As mentioned briefly, summer pruning serves for better exposure, promotes the formation of flower buds for the next year, and is carried out before the harvest. You do this as follows:
- Shorten the fruit-bearing shoots.
- Remove excessively steep, excess (a total of approx. 10 this year’s to three-year-old shoots; 10 new shoots for black currants) or injured new shoots.
- Do not overdo it with the thinning out. Ripening fruits that are suddenly exposed to the sun can be damaged.
Cut the standard currants
Currant stems are raised in the first few years in such a way that a strong central branch – the continuation of the stem, so to speak – has four to six side branches. Upbringing is about leaving those side shoots that form a beautiful crown and cutting back those that grow from this ideal image to two or three buds. Later, the older side shoots are always shortened to around three buds and, in the case of very weak growth, to two buds. The bud that is being cut back should always point outwards. For the right look, you can finally remove overhanging branches so that your high-stemmed currant grows nice and compact.
Cut currants for rejuvenation
Currant bushes that have not been cut for years and only bear a few tiny fruits deserve a rescue attempt. The old, dark shoots are either radically cut off directly above the deep-seated, young side shoots or shortened to one or two buds. As always, it is important to cut back to the outward-facing buds.
With the right fertilization in early spring, this radical cut should cause the currant bush to sprout again in the coming year. If only one or two weak shoots develop, then the rescue attempt may, unfortunately, have failed and the shrub has had its day. Before you devote any more futile effort to it, it is better to plant a new currant bush.
Combine cutting currants with transplanting
If you decide to transplant your currant bush into the garden, you should also cut. Please note that it is usually only worth transplanting younger specimens, as older plants will be severely affected by the move and their yield will suffer. As with planting, the ideal time is autumn. When you move the current, you should prune the plant relatively heavily. Cut off all other shoots except for the annual shoots. After transplanting, the shrub needs two to three years to regenerate.
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