I have been growing blackcurrants since 1989 when I went into partnership with my parents, who had been in the blackcurrant industry since 1969. I took over in 1994. I have a total of 34 hectares with 32 of these in blackcurrants. This farm was purchased in 1980 and was at that time a sheep producing property. There were no trees on the place except for the pine trees. As you can see from the picture below, shelter has been planted, which is very important in my area as wind can be a major problem.
I plant at 2.75m (9ft) rows with plants 300mm (12) or 450mm (18) apart depending on variety. Most varieties are planted at 300mm but I have found plants that are vigorous growers or bushy are best at 450mm. Having plants too close can be detrimental and cause competition. Obviously plants at 300mm produce more per hectare at an earlier age, but could result in more maintenance requirements once the plant reaches maturity. In saying that I only have two varieties (Blackdown and Daniels Late September) that I plant at 450mm, and I have a trial with these at 300mm. I am still playing around with different spaces as my father planted everything at 450mm and I believe that variety, soil, climatic conditions and spaces all contribute to a successful long term cropping plant. Most rows are running North South that I believe to be preferable, and some West East.
I plant 250mm (10) long cuttings into 600mm black polythene, for weed control and to retain moisture. There are different opinions on polythene and length of cutting, but this is my preferred method.
Simazine is applied before cuttings are planted but after polythene has been laid. Once the Simazine has been washed off the polythene I plant as soon as I can, preferably in May/June but before the end of August. The sooner the cutting is planted the better the growth in the first year.
I currently have 11.5 ha with overhead sprinklers for frost protection and irrigation and also have a travelling irrigator.
Aerial photo of the farm