Perennial Plant Spotlight: Ribes genus berries

I’m coming to the conclusion that the garden boundary fence may end up being one of the more diverse and prized areas of cultivation on the farm. It should be no secret here that I love currants and think they are the next big thing in the American market. Heck I feel like I am pumping a penny stock…Anyone want some tulip bulbs?

Starting with my beloved currants, they do well in higher latitudes, cooler climates and out of extensive sunshine. Leaves on the ribes genus will wilt and burn when exposed to temperatures above 85 degrees fahrenheit. Specialty Crop Profiles: Ribes (currants and gooseberries) is the main guide used in species and site selection. These plants prefer moderately acidic soils that hold water without being waterlogged. For starters, I would like to experiment with different cultivars to determine which is adapted to the conditions of the Shenandoah Valley as well as my palette. Sparing the complete cultivar break down, here are the red, white and black currants that will be grown as well as gooseberries. If you want to check on the legality of growing Ribes plants in your state, I have compiled a list of state legislation here.

Jonkeers van Tets

  • early- to mid-season
  • bloom early and are heavy producers
  • Plants are mildew and aphid resistant, but gray mold (Botrytis spp.), a common fruit rot fungus (also called “run-off”), can be a problem for production in wet years


  • Mid-season
  • Plants are very large, robust, and upright
  • Very high yielding


  • Late-season.
  • Fruit are large and produced on long compact strigs
  • This cultivar is a dependable bearer and productive
  • Blooms late, so frost can be less of a problem than with other cultivars (Will be grown in shadiest spots)
  • Resistant to mildew and other leaf diseases.

I would also consider Tatran in place of Rovada.

Blanka (White)

  • Late-season.
  • heavy yields and dependability.
  • easy to grow
  • Flowers in midspring, avoiding late frosts. (Will be grown in shadiest spots)

Pink Champagne

  • Mid- to late-season
  • Quality and flavor are good
  • Fruit are a translucent pink color
  • Yields are generally low.
  • Plants are vigorous, upright, and resistant to leaf diseases

Black currants are the cream of the crop for this genus of berries. They are also the largest host to White Pine Blister Rust (WPBR) so care will be taken with this selection. Original breedings of WPBR resistant plants created lower quality fruit, but ongoing efforts are being made to breed black currants back into the parent varieties but with retained disease resistance. Therefore the breeding market will be closely watched for new and promising results. My neighbor has a small plantation of pine trees so I am going to consult him to whether they are 5 needled varieties susceptible to WPBR before moving forward with the black currants.

Ben Lomond

  • Mid-season
  • Known for even ripening and high yields of large, firm fruit that have a long hang time and high vitamin C content despite high pectin levels.
  • Plants are compact yet spreading, and have good frost tolerance at flowering.
  • Plants have variable resistance to mildew and slight resistance to WPBR.

Ben Sarek

  • Early-season
  • Known for strong set of very large fruit, ease of hand harvest, and tolerance to frost and cold injury.
  • Good for processing.
  • Growth habit is very compact. Recommended for small-scale growers with limited land area.
  • Has slight to moderate resistance to WPBR.

American Gooseberries:


  • Early- to mid-season
  • Fruit are red, medium size, and oval shaped
  • Fruit ripens over a long period and is of high quality. The flavor is sprightly sweet.
  • Plants are also productive, upright, dense with few short thorns, and are mildew resistant.

As of now, here is the current currant plan:



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