Redcurrants are native to Western Europe. They will cope with damp, shady aspects and are winter-hardy making them suitable for locations other bush fruit would not like.. Enjoying well fertile, good draining soils of pH 6.0-7.0, they will still grow with good vigour on much poorer soils.
Hargreaves Plants can offer the following cultivars, all with different attributes that will cover differing tastes, soil types and locations:
This relatively new variety was bred in France, currently the earliest cropping cultivar available, with fruit ripening ready for picking in late June. The major difference with this variety is that it crops on both 1 and 2 year old wood giving good yields immediately after planting. The crop itself is very heavy with high quality berries being produced on long strigs making harvest easier. The fruit eats well and has a good associated taste.
An old favourite in the redcurrant market, the plant produces small to medium well-flavoured berries from mid July to mid August. They are ideal for either eating fresh or for making jam and jellies. The plant itself is content to grow in most soils or aspects and is a strong growing, heavy yielding plant that flowers later than most other redcurrants. The plant grows to around 1.5m high and does not spread with age, therefore plenty of space needs to be allowed between and around the plants.
Jonkheer Van Tets (JVT)
An early variety with picking commencing in early July, offering long trusses and large fruit and yields making this one of the most popular varieties in the UK. The fruit itself is bright and juicy and rated very highly for flavour. The bushes themselves do grow large, but are undemanding in terms of soil type and therefore suitable for both commercial and own garden growing.
This variety produces a small bush with mid green leaves and exhibits a spreading growth habit. However, this plant can be trained to grow in the same way as raspberries and blackcurrants. The plant does not have any serious disease issues but can be susceptible to Powdery Mildew and Fungal Leaf Spot in cool, damp conditions. Like all soft fruits, aphids need to be controlled. The fruit itself develops on long trusses and ripens between mid July and mid August, giving large berries that, although slightly tart if eaten off the plant, are ideal for making jam, jellies and pies.
The plant develops into a very upright bush that produces high yields of medium red fruits that hang well on the plant for easy picking. Red Start has excellent resistance against foliar diseases and is late flowering which helps avoid frost damage. The plant is also slow-growing whilst still providing good yields, an excellent choice for cultivating if space is limited. The fruit does not ripen until early August, making this a late variety, and is slightly acidic in flavour with a bright skin finish.
This late ripening variety (early to mid August) is the most widely planted cultivar due to its excellent yields of high quality fruit. Berries are produced on a profusion of long strigs for easy picking operation. As with all berry production, the plants are best situated in cool summer climates, protected from strong winter winds and frostpockets, and grown in rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils. Although slightly tart directly off the plant, they offer a rich, full flavour and are excellent from the freezer. With the fact that Rovada will produce fruits for up to 10 years from the same plants, this makes it the outstanding variety currently available.