When Do Currants Produce Fruit?


If you recently planted currants in your yard, you may not have any fruit on them just yet.  In that case, you are probably wondering when currants produce fruit, and if there is anything you can do to help them along.

So, when does a currant produce fruit?  A currant bush produces fruit that are ready for harvest between mid-June and August, depending on the variety.  Most currants will not produce fruit until 1 to 3 years after planting.  Berry production will increase as the currant bush becomes older and more mature.

Of course, depending on the variety of currant you choose, you may get fewer or smaller fruit.

Other factors such as crowded spacing, over fertilization, and environmental conditions can all affect the growth of fruit on your currants.

Let’s take a closer look at currants, when they bear fruit, and the factors that can affect your harvest.

When Do Currants Produce Fruit?

According to the University of Michigan Extension, a currant bush will produce fruit 1 to 3 years after planting.  The berries on currant bushes are ready to harvest between mid-June and August, depending on the variety.

red currants
Currants are usually ready for harvest in mid-June and August. Here we see some red currants that are nice and ripe.

Most brand-new currant bushes will not produce fruit.  Any flowers that appear in the first year should be pinched off.  This will allow the currant bush to focus its energy on root and shoot growth for future production, rather than trying to produce a few berries.

Do Currants Produce Fruit the First Year?

No, currants do not produce fruit in the first year.  You should expect to wait 1 to 3 years before a currant bush produces fruit.

white currants
Currants do not produce fruit in the first year. Here, we have white currants, which are growing on a well-established currant bush.

More mature currant bushes will produce more fruit as they get older.  However, keep in mind that any shoots on a currant bush that are more than 4 years old will produce very little fruit.

This is why pruning currants is so important – more on this later.

How Much Fruit Do Currants Produce?

A mature currant bush will produce 3 to 8 pounds of berries per year (according to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, a currant bush will produce 90 to 150 pounds per 100 feet of row, with plants spaced 3 to 5 feet apart).

black currants
A currant bush can produce 3 to 8 pounds of fruit per year. More mature plants will produce more berries. Here, we have a black currant bush.

Currants grow in clusters of 8 to 30 berries that are about the size of peas.  The clusters of fruit look similar to bunches of grapes.  The berries on currant bushes come in red, white, and black colors, depending on the variety.

How Long Do Currants Live?

According to Burpee, currants can live for 20 to 30 years with proper care, including watering, fertilizing, spacing, and pruning (more on this later).

According to Utah State University Extension, a well-cared for plant will remain productive for 20 years.

What Type Of Currants Should I Plant?

When selecting a currant bush, make sure to choose one that you can grow in your climate!  For more information, check out the USDA Zone Hardiness Map to see what zone you are in.

Note: many currant varieties are quite cold-tolerant; you may need to worry about your climate being too warm rather than too cold!

Here are some currant varieties that you might want to try:

Also, keep in mind that some states have restrictions on importing and growing currants, due to the prevalence of a disease (white pine blister rust) in the plants (there was a federal ban until 1966).  If you have white pines in your yard, be careful about planting currants near them.

Do You Need Two Currants To Produce Fruit?

No, you do not need two currants to produce fruit.  Most currant varieties are self-fruitful (self-pollinating), meaning that their flowers have both male and female parts.

bee on blueberry flower
Most currant varieties (the exception is some black currant varieties) are self-fertile, or self-pollinating. Still, having more than one variety present and having bees to help cross-pollinate will give more fruit and larger berries.

However, currants will produce more fruit and larger berries if another variety is present to provide cross pollination.

Also, keep in mind that some black currant varieties are not self-fruitful, and would require a second variety to be present in your garden to ensure proper pollination and fruit set.

For more information, check out this article on currants from the University of Maryland Extension.

What Other Factors Can Affect Fruit On Currants?

The quality of care that you give your currant bushes will help to decide how much fruit you get each year.  Remember that currants do not need full sun; according to the Iowa State University Extension, currants can do well in partial sun.

Other important factors for currants are temperature, watering, fertilizing, pruning, and spacing.

Temperature for Currants

Currants are extremely winter hardy.  They can tolerate temperatures as cold as -31 to -22 degrees Fahrenheit (-35 to -30 degrees Celsius).

For more information, check out this article on currants from the Penn State University Extension.

Most currants will do fine in USDA Zones 3 to 7.  Anything further south than Zone 7 may be too warm, while some northern climates will be too cold for them in the winter.

Watering For Currants

Currants have a shallow, fibrous root system.  As a result, drip irrigation work well for them.  This method also prevents the leaves from getting wet, which reduces the chances of disease. 

For more information on watering, check out this article on currants from the Utah State University Extension.

Significant water stress, caused by long periods of drought, can become worse in gardens with dry soil.  If you have a problem with dry soil, check out my article on dry soil.

garden hose
Make sure not to over water or under water your currant bushes!

On the other hand, over watering can also spell death for your currants, due to root rot or fungal diseases.  Over watering can also slow root growth and leach nutrients out of the soil.  For more information, check out my article on over watering.

Fertilizing For Currants

According to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, currants are heavy nitrogen feeders.  Before you plant a currant bush, add some compost with manure to your garden, and work it into the soil.

manure
Currants are a heavy nitrogen feeder, so mixing manure into your soil before planting is a good idea.

This will provide organic material and nutrients for your currant bush as it grows.  The best part is that you can make compost yourself from ordinary yard and kitchen waste!

Be sure to let manure decompose before using it in your garden.  For more information, check out my article on manure.

Currants prefer soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0 (slightly to somewhat acidic).  If your currant bush is not vigorous, use some 10-10-10 fertilizer to give them a boost.

You can also try some high-nitrogen fertilizers to give your currants a boost. For more information, check out my article on high-nitrogen fertilizers.

As always, you should do a soil test if you are unsure about whether you should add fertilizer or other amendments to your garden.  For more information, check out my article on soil testing.

For more information, check out this article on currants from the Burpee website.

Pruning for Currants

Currants should be pruned in late winter or early spring, during dormancy.

pruning shears
You should prune currants in late winter or early spring, when the bush is still in dormancy.

After the first growing season, remove all but 6 to 8 of the most vigorous shoots.

The next year, leave 4 to 5 one-year-old shoots and 3 to 4 two-year-old canes.

After the third year, keep 3 or 4 shoots (canes) from each year’s growth.

If you have trouble telling canes from different years apart, you can mark them with different colors of string and record the age and corresponding color in your gardening journal.

For more information on pruning, check out this article on currants from the Iowa State University Extension.

Spacing for Currants

You should plant currants in spring, leaving 4 to 5 feet between bushes.  There should be 6 to 8 feet between rows, to allow enough space for pruning, watering, and harvesting.

Conclusion

By now, you have a good idea of when currants will produce fruit.  You also know a bit more about how to take care of currant bushes and how to avoid the problems that can affect your harvest.

I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information.  If you have any questions or advice about currants, please leave a comment below.

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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