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early enough in the season, before the buds start into growth
if possible, so that all the cultivation close to the plants will
be over before there is a possibility of knocking off the fruit
and leaf buds. The tillage need not be deep — about 2 inches
is deep enough.

As already indicated, cultivation of the most thorough kind
should be given in the currant plantation from early spring
until July when the fruit is picked. Just before or about picking
time, it is advisable to sow a cover crop. Some good growers


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do not plant a cover crop, but keep the land cleanly cultivated
during the whole season. Such treatment, however, is not
considered the best practice.

In sections where snow storms are severe and the bushes
tend to bend down under the weight of the snow, it is customary
to tie them up in the fall, using binder twine or some such
material. The twine is merely run arotmd the bush as a whole
and serves to keep its branches from spreading out and down.
This tying up must be done before the wood is frozen; other-
wise it is apt to crack and break.

30. On a small scale, mulching with straw, coarse hay, etc.
is a success with currants, and there is no reason why it would
not give satisfaction in extensive plantations where suitable
and suflBcient mulching material is available. If mulching is
regularly employed, a somewhat closer planting than that
previously recommended will be suitable.

31. The clovers are particularly desirable cover crops for
currants. Wherever the land and climatic conditions are
suitable, Crimson clover may be sown at the rate of 12 to
15 poimds per acre, or the same quantity of a mixture of equal
parts, by measiu'e, of Red clover and Crimson clover, sometime
late in Jtme or in July after picking. An excellent cover crop
in some sections is either of the above with 1 potmd of Cowhom
turnip seed per acre added, or, in other years, instead of the
turnips, 3 pounds of Dwarf Essex rape. If the land is foul with
quack grass, no other crop is so effective in helping to check
it as rape; in such cases a heavy seeding of from 4 to 5 pounds
per acre should be made; the rape grows quickly and covers the
land effectually.

Where Crimson clover will not thrive, one grower finds rag-
weed and pigweed, especially the latter, excellent cover crops,
and both have the advantage that they seed themselves and
thus reduce the expense to a minimum. A good crop of almost
any of the so-called weeds is an excellent cover crop.

In the South, a crop of cowpeas or soybeans may be grown
between currant bushes, seeding at the rate of from 3 to 5 pecks,
or 45 to 75 poimds, per acre, and for a late cover crop for

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sowing in September, oats or barley at the rate of 3 bushels
per acre are acceptable, since they make a thick mat and are
usually winter killed.


32. Currants are pruned to stimulate the growth of suf-
ficient new fruit-bearing wood, to get rid of the wood that is
no longer suitable for fruit bearing, and to keep the bush open
to admit light to color the fruit.

Practically no pruning is given to currants tmtil the plants
have been established for 4 or 5 years, at which time the process

Fig. 9

of securing on each bush a succession of canes of different ages
is begim. Each cane, or branch, is believed to reach its best
development in from 3 to 5 years, and after this it should be
removed. The aim should be to keep each bush with about
five or six canes. The new shoots arise from the roots, and if
one of these is allowed to develop annually and the other new
shoots are removed, together with one old one, the bush will
be renewed all the time. Currant bushes so handled have

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been vigorous and productive for 30 years after planting, so that
a currant plantation need not be so short lived as many have
been; 8 to 12 years is the average life of a currant plantation
when neglected. A full-grown currant bush is shown in Fig. 9.

Pig. 10

In England, a certain amount of summer pruning is prac-
ticed on currant bushes with very good results. The new
growth is shortened back to two or three buds in July or August,
thus encouraging the production of fruit buds lower down on
the cane. In this way one cane is left on a bush much longer

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than 5 years. So far as known, this method of pruning has
not been practiced in commercial plantations in America.

Tree ctirrants, as shown in Fig. 10, are sometimes grown,
either by training the bush to a central stem as a trunk, or by
grafting the currant on the Missouri, or Flowering, currant,
a native of the western part of the Mississippi Valley. Such
plants, however, are oddities and are of no commercial value,
for if the borers work in the trunk the bush is totally destroyed ;
in the bush form there are usually from four to eight separate
canes to work with, and it is unlikely, when even ordinary care
is given to a plantation, that all of the canes will suffer from
borers at once. The tree currant, shown in Fig. 10, was photo-
graphed in its second year of bearing.


33. Since currants naturally grow in land rich in organic
matter, the native varieties being found in such locations,
it is generally advisable to apply barnyard manure to currants
OH any type of soil. If the manure is not rotted, probably the
best plan is to apply it in the fall, so that it will not interfere
with spring cultivation. Where good cover crops are grown,
it may be possible to get along without the use of manure,
provided proper quantities of concentrated chemical fertilizers
are used.

In regard to the matter of chemical fertilizers, which must
be frequently used, either to augment manure or as a substi-
tute, it is practically impossible to give the grower more than
a suggestion. Each grower must determine for himself the
materials that will give the best results on any particular
patch, and this can be ascertained only by experiment. The
necessity for such experiments is shown by the fact that fre-
quently only one or two of the three principal fertilizer ingre-
dients — ^nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash — will be needed
on a soil, and that the others, if applied, are applied at a loss.
For instance, on the soil at the Massachusetts Agricultural
Experiment Station, it was found that marked benefit was
secured on currants from the application of potassic fertilizers

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only. To determine the efficiency of fertilizers, test strips
should be made through the oirrant plantation; that is, cer-
tain sections of the ground should be reserved for experiments
and fertilized in different ways. On some strips only one each
of the fertilizer ingredients should be applied, and on others
different combinations should be tried. The determination
by experiment in this way of the relative values of different
forms of phosphates such as basic slag, acid phosphate, and
ground bone is even advisable. In addition to nitrate of soda,
some of the more slowly available forms of nitrogen are worthy
of trial on currants. One of the best of these is cottonseed
meal, and if fish guanos, and wool and hair wastes can be
economically secured, they may also be used for this purpose.

34. During the time that experiments such as the pre-
ceding are being tried, or even as a general, though perhaps
not an economical, practice, an application of from 400 to
500 pounds of bone meal and 100 pounds of dried blood, or an
equivalent of some grade of tankage, to the part of the plan-
tation not being experimented on, would be safe. In place
of these materials, it might be wise to try as a substitute 600
or 800 pounds of basic slag, 100 pounds of nitrate of soda,
and 100 pounds of muriate of potash per acre, the basic slag
and the muriate of potash being applied in the fall after the
foliage has fallen from the bushes, and the nitrate of soda
being applied close to the rows with a fertilizer barrow, similar
to that shown in Fig. 11, after the growth has started in the
spring; care, however, must be taken not to allow the nitrate
of soda to come in contact with the plants, because it is liable
to bum them. Where a good clover crop is grown annually
as a cover crop, the application of the nitrate of soda may pos-
sibly- be omitted without affecting the growth of the plants.

For currants, the late Professor Vorhees, of the New Jersey
Experiment Station, suggested an application of from 500 to
1,000 pounds per acre of a mixture composed of 100 poimds
each of ground bone, acid phosphate, and muriate of potash,
or of 150 pounds of ground bone and 100 poimds of muriate
of potash.

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Samuel Fraser, of Livingston Cotinty, New York, a prom-
inent currant grower, applies to his currant patch each year
in the fall or winter 1,000 pounds of basic slag and 200 pounds
of muriate of potash, and care is taken not to allow the latter
to touch the plants. In the spring after the fruit has set he
applies 150 to 200 pounds of nitrate of soda. Every 3 or 4 years
he applies 1 to 2 tons of lime per acre.

Pig. 11

Under many conditions an application of about 1 ton of
air-slaked lime, or its equivalent, to each acre may be advisable.

The importance of getting most of the work of applying
fertilizers and lime done when travel among the currant bushes
is easy, should constantly be borne in mind. The bulk of these
materials should be applied during the fall and winter.

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35. San Jos6 Scale. — One of the most serious troubles
of the currant in the past has been the San Josd scale, the life
history and description of which has been given in the discus-
sion of tree fruits. On the currant, it can be controlled by-
thorough sprayings early in the spring with lime-sulphur or with
some oil preparation, but tmless particular care is taken to make
a thorough application some scales will be missed and these will
multiply rapidly. In the Eastern States during the last 15 years
many currant plantations have been wiped out by the San Jos6

36. Currant Borer. — The parent of the currant borer,
the currant moth, is bluish-black in color and has three yellow
bars extending across the abdomen. It lays eggs on the cane
in the spring. These eggs soon hatch out small borers, which
eat their way into the pith, where they feed for the season.
These small borers pupate in the fall and give rise to the mature
moth the next spring. The injury done to the cane by the cur-
rant borer is generally sufficient to cause its death, and in any
event materially to weaken the plant. So far as known, the
only way to overcome it seems to be to watch for weak canes,
and when these are foimd, cut them off close to the ground,
take them off the plantation and bum them. In Fig. 12 are
shown currant canes that have been injured by the currant
borer. In (a) are shown the horizontal tracks of young larvas;
the bark has been cut away to show the burrows and the first
development of a gall. In (b) is shown the cross-section of a
currant cane through a gall; at a is shown the point of entrance
of the larva, and at b the lateral track of the larva.

37. Currant Worm, or Currant Saw Fly. — ^An enemy
of the currant known as the currant worm, or currant saw fly,
shown in Fig. 13, was imported into America from Europe. The
adult is a foiu'-winged fly something like a common house fly.

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These flies will lay small white eggs on the under side of leaves,
frequently in a row on the veins of the foliage. There may
be two or four broods a year. It is, therefore, important that
the first brood be controlled. Some poisonous insecticide should
be used for this purpose. Since it is now necessary in most
places to spray the foliage to preserve it from fungous diseases,
it is wise to combine the insecticide with the fimgicidal spray
used at this time. If the spraying is done as soon as the plants
have finished blooming and before the currants are large no
danger of getting poison on the fruit is incurred, but it is not


Pig. 12 Fig. 13

wise to apply an arsenical poison when the currants are near
maturity. Should a spraying have to be made when the fruit
is near maturity, it is more advisable to apply hellebore, either
dry or mixed with water, strength \ otmce (1 teaspoonful) to
1 gallon, rather than any poisonous material.

If arsenate of lead is used as the insecticide, it should be used at
the rate of 2 pounds to 50 gallons of the spray liquid. It is much
better than Paris green, because it sticks to the foliage longer.

It is important in spraying for the control of the currant
worm that all of the foliage be coated. No halfway measures

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will be sufficient to control this pest. Whenever a good spray-
ing with arsenate of lead is given in the first instance there will
be no need to spray the currants again for the currant worm
when the fruit is near maturity.

38. Green Leaf Hopper, or Currant Leaf Hopper.

A sucking insect, called the green leaf hopper, or currant leaf
hopper, sometimes causes trouble on ciurant bushes by suck-
ing the juice from the imder side of the foliage. These insects
must be controlled by contact sprays. Perhaps the best means
for controlling them is one of the standard nicotine prepara-
tions mixed with the ordinar}'- Bordeaux mixture, lime-sulphur,
or other spraying material.

Pig. 14

39. Yellow Leaf Currant Bug, or Four-Lined Leaf

Bug. — The insect knowTi as the yellow leaf currant bug, or
four-lined leaf bug, is sometimes troublesome. It is about
-J inch long and has four black stripes extending its entire
length, hence the name. These bugs appear in May, but are
then very small, and depart in July. There is but one brood.

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The individtials of this brood lay eggs on the tips of the shoots.
The young insects emerge from these eggs the following May
and suck the juices from the leaves, causing brown, angular
areas of dead tissue, such as shown in Fig. 14. One means of
controlling this pest is to remove and bum the tips of the
branches with the eggs on them. To kill the insects themselves
it is necessary to use a contact spray, and since they are the
least active early in the morning, this is the best time to apply
it. Nicotine is probably the most effective insecticide.

40. Grape Flea Beetle. — Ciurant foliage is sometimes
injured after the fruit is harvested by the attacks of the grape
flea beetle, which eats holes in the leaves. This pest may be
controlled by spraying with some arsenical poison.

41. Currant Plant Louse. — The small currant plant
louse appears on the xmder surface of the currant leaves toward
midsummer, causing the leaf to assimie a blistered and puckered
appearance. Unless these insects are controlled early in the
season they soon curl the leaves so that they are diflictdt to
reach with a spray. Many of the lice are destroyed by the
two-spotted lady bug and certain other parasitic insects also
attack them. Usually, currant growers do not spray for the
currant plant louse, but should it be deemed necessary one of
the nicotine sprays would probably be best. Like other insects
of this class, it must be controlled by contact sprays.

42. Currant Miner. — The small larva called the currant
miner is the early stage of a tiny moth. This larva works
under the bark and makes small holes in the currant canes;
the holes, although not of themselves serious, afford entrance
to fimgi, which become serious menaces to the life of the plant.
No means of control of the currant miner is yet known.


43. Leaf Spots. — The two principal diseases that attack
the foliage of currants are the leaf spots. Leaves affected
with these two diseases are shown in Ficfs. 15 and 16. These

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Pic. 16

Pig. 16


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diseases cause the formation of spots on the leaves and the
tiltimate loss of the foliage by the early part of the summer.
This seriously weakens them for the succeeding year.

The two leaf spot diseases can be controlled by thorough
applications of Bordeaux mixture or of lime-sulphur. Spray-
ing with a 5-5-50 Bordeaux mixture (5 poimds copper sul-
phate, 5 potmds of stone lime, water slaked, 50 gallons water)
to which has been added 4 poimds of arsenate of lead has been
foxmd to be the most effective. Lime-sulphiu* solution for the
combating of the currant leaf spots should be of specific gravity
1.009 (that is, concentrated lime-sulphur solution of 33** Baimi^,
or specific gravity 1.295, diluted 1 to 30 with water). The
presence of arsenate of lead in combination with lime-sulphur
also increases the fungicidal value of the lime-sulphur.

Several of the proprietary fungicidal spray solutions have
also been foimd to be effective on the currant leaf spots.


44. When spraying currants it is necessary to have a
sprayer that is conveniently arranged and one capable of giv-
ing satisfactory results. It is the experience of successful
currant growers that an automatic sprayer with standards
of nozzles on the sides will not apply the spray satisfactorily
to all parts of a large bush. It has been foxmd absolutely
necessary to have trailers, and for the men operating the trail-
ers to spray each bush from all sides in order to coat it prop-
erly. The spray pump should be powerful enough to maintain
a constant pressure of at least 80 to 100 poimds per square
inch even when two nozzles are placed on each hose, as is neces-
sary when large bushes are to be sprayed.

One grower made a very efficient spray that is narrow and
has a long tank with a capacity of 150 gallons. On top of the
tank is a large pump that can be operated either by hand or
by a small gasoline engine if desired. The rig is equipped
with sufficient hose to spray three rows on each side of the
machine, or six rows in all, at one time. A compressed-air
spraying outfit is a very convenient one, since the trucks can

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be made quite narrow, but a good man-power outfit, such as
the one just described, is sufficient for a plantation up to 10

To control the insect enemies and the diseases of currants,
the following sprayings should be given:

1. Before the buds open with a 1 to 9 lime-sulphur solution
to control the San ]os6 scale (specific gravity 1.03 — that is,
33** Baum6 lime-sulphiu* diluted 1 to 9 with water).

2. As soon as the plants have gone out of bloom, with 5-5-50
Bordeaux mixture (5 poimds of copper sulphate, 5 pounds of
lime, water slaked, 50 gallons of water), and a 2-50 arsenate
of lead (2 potmds of arsenate of lead to 50 gallons of Bordeaux
mixture) combined to control the leaf spots and currant worm;
when arsenate of lead is used in this sprajnng there is often no
necessity for applying it again. Sometimes a &-6-50 Bordeaux
mixture is used.

3. As soon as the fruit is harvested, with the same spray as
that given in paragraph 2, or without the arsenate of lead if
the currant worm has been controlled by the previous spra>Tng.

In some cases an application of 5-5-50 Bordeaux mixture
between the second and third regular sprayings is advisable
to control the leaf spots, but this application should not be
made so late that the spray will stain the fruit.


45, Thus far no means have been tried in the East for the
protection of currant plantations from frost, nor has it been
considered necessary to do so, since it is cheaper and more
satisfactory to locate a plantation properly and thus avoid the
possibility of such troubles. As in the location of other fruit
plantations, care should be taken to avoid frost pockets; the
bushes should always be located on a slope or on an elevated
part of land where they will have a good circulation of air
about and between them.

Currant bushes are very susceptible to injury from frost,
and if they are located in a frost pocket, or are in a spot exposed
to frosts, and the buds start early in the spring and are injured

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by a frost, the entire crop may be lost. In some cases the leaf
buds as weU as the fruit buds may be injured by a frost. In
other cases, due to unfavorable weather conditions, the bunches
of fruit will not be well filled and the tip berries will fall off.
This may be due to frost injury but it is possible that it may be
due to a lack of pollination.



46. Currants are harvested from the latter part of Jime to
the middle or the latter part of July, as soon as the bimches
b^in to show a uniform color of red, white, or black, as the
case may be. Only one picking is made, the bushes being
picked clean at this time. From 7 to 10 days are generally
available for the harvesting, because currants will hang on the
bushes and remain fairly firm for several days after they are well
colored. For this reason, the crop does not have to be handled
with the same haste that the strawberry and raspberry crops
must be handled.

The pickers are usually engaged by piece work. If they are
paid from f to 1 cent per poimd, some pickers will earn $2.50 per
day. Sometimes the pickers are paid by the quart basket,
and receive 2 cents per basket. Women and children are
usually employed for the work, and frequently one watcher is
needed for every ten or twenty pickers.

To secure the best results, certain precautions should be taken.
The fruit should not be picked when wet, as moisture in the
crates will hasten its decay. To be attractive when it reaches
the market, it must be kept clean. To avoid bruising the fruit
by too much handling, it is best to have the picking done so
that the fruit will have to be sorted but little. Further, to
prevent the crushing and bruising of the fruit, care should be
exercised as to the method of picking. The fruit is borne in
clusters, and to avoid crushing it the stem of each cluster
should be grasped with the thimib and forefinger and the bunch

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detached from the bush without touching the berries at all.
There is a tendency on the part of currant pickers to strip the
berries oflf the bunch as they pick them. This injures the
keeping quality of the fruit, and its salabiUty, because it muti-
lates large ntmibers of the berries and liberates large quantities
of juice, which smears the perfect berries and hastens their

Fall Brook Farm


Fall Brook Farm


Fall Brook Farm


Fall Brook Farm





Fig. 17

decay; as the temperature is usually very high during currant-
picking time, the decay is rapid. In addition, fruit in such a
bruised condition cannot be washed without considerable loss
of juice, and therefore is not readily salable, even at the

The fruit may be conveniently picked into quart baskets,
which are put into carriers, thirty-two carriers to the crate, for

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shipment to the city markets, or into 6- or 8-poimd grape
baskets when they are to be sent to the canning factory.

In some currant plantations, as soon as the fruit is picked, it
is taken to a central station, where the fruit is paid for by the
poimd or by the basket. In some localities the owners have a
system of pasteboard checks for the pickers, which are
redeemed in cash at the end of the season. Samples of such
checks are shown actual size in Fig. 17. To facilitate handling
and to help avoid mistakes the ^-cent check is red, the 1-cent
check green, the 3-cent check yellow, the 5-cent check blue, and
the 10-cent and the $1 checks are white but of different sizes.

When the currant crop is sold to the canning factory no
grading is necessary, and practically no packing. The canning
factories make Uttle or no difference in price for the size of the

Online LibraryInternational Correspondence SchoolsPeach culture: plum culture; grape culture; strawberries; raspberries ... → online text (page 31 of 35)