Black Currant
Red and Black Currants have a lot of potential for fresh and processed use.  Today, the majority of currants are grown in Europe. Currant production was banned in the United States in the early 1900's. Black currants were a known vector of White Pine Blister Rust, an introduced disease that caused damage to the timber industry.  Blister rust spends part of it's life cycle on susceptible Ribe plants, then spores are carried to the second host, five needled pines. Native Ribes species exist, so the ban was weakly effective in preventing the disease. It did, however, curtail the commercial production of currants for nearly a century! Today, currants are experiencing a resurgence in popularity for good reasons. They are great tasting and highly nutritious.  Black currants have 18 times more vitamin C than blueberries or cranberries! Their flavor complexity lends itself to sweet and savory dishes alike. Phytochemicals in the fruit and seeds continue to be identified as tools to fight the inflammatory response associated with many diseases and illness. There are cultivars suitable for hand or machine harvest. Berries may be consumed fresh, but most are processed into juice, jams or wine. 
The first crosses to select for resistance to white pine blister rust were successful regarding disease but the quality of fruit and yield was not desirable. Back crossing these varieties to a parent have produced strains that have better yield and better disease resistance. Six varieties will be planted at WARC as well as off-site locations.  The four black and two red currant varieties were  by McGinnis Berry Crops . This nursery is a leader in the development and testing of currants in North America.  

Black Currant (Ribes nigrum) Trial Varieties At All sites

'Tofino'-

'Blackcomb'- (Ojebyn x Titania): High yielding variety with high levels of resistance to mildew and Whit Pine Blister Rust. Vigorous growth and frost tolerance due to late mid-season flowering. In British Columbia replicated trials, yields were 50% higher than Titania and Ben Alder. Fruit size is 20% larger than Titania. Well suited to machine harvest.

'Stikine'- New Release. Great flavor profile. High levels of resistance to White Pine Blister Rust and other foliar diseases. High yields. Suitable to both hand harvest and machine harvest.

'Titania'-Ripens uniformly. Mild flavor. Vigorous grower with high yields. Resistance to White Pine Blister Rust. 

Red Currant (Ribes rubrum) Trial Varieties At All Sites

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'Rovada'- (Rays' Prolific x Heinemann's Rote Spatlese- (Holland, 1990)- Late flowering. Heavy crop of very large fruit. Excellent choice for fresh market and U-pick. Largely free of mildew and other leaf diseases. Harvest mid-August.

'HRON'- (Jonkeer van Tets x Heinemann's Rote Spatlese, 1992, Research Inst. of Fruit and Decorative Trees, Bojnice, Slovakia)- Vigorous, upright growth habit. Dark green leaves contribute to ornamental value. Good resistance to foliar diseases. Well suited to higher elevations with high degree of tolerance to late spring frost.

Additional Variety Trials at Western Agriculture Research Center in Corvallis

 

Black Currant (Ribes nigrum) 'Tahsis'- (Bieloruskaya sladkaya x Titania) Highest yields in replicated British Columbia trials. Flowers late mid-season. Has high levels of resistance to White Pine Blister Rust, resistant to mildew and very large fruit. Spreading growth habit lends itself to hand harvest or U-pick operations rather than machine harvest. Must be pruned annually.

Black Currant (Ribes nigrum) 'Whistler'- (Ben Tirran x Bieloruskaya sladkaya) High yields of small to medium sized fruit. Fair resistance to mildew and good resistance to White Pine Blister Rust. Flowering late mid-season with good tolerance for frost. Yields in replicated trials were more than 50% higher than Titania and Ben Alder. Well suited to machine harvest.

Red Currant (Ribes rubrum) 'Jonkeer Von Tets'-Berries are variable in size. Moderate flavor profile. Vigorous growth habit.