Blackcurrants face lack of winter chill

Future milder winters may lead to inadequate chilling of some new blackcurrant varieties, an ADAS study for the Horticultural Development Company has warned.

Blackcurrant bushes require winter chilling to ensure uniform growth and ripening and maximum yield, but this differs in degree from one variety to another. A less predictable climate means that growers should be aware of individual varieties' chilling requirement, especially in milder areas, the report said.

The research, carried out between January and November last year under project leader John Atwood, found: "Cultivars 9443-3 and 8962-1 had high chill requirements, so might not be suitable for the UK if milder winters were to be more common."

The two needed more than 2,000 hours below 7 degsC to achieve 75 per cent bud break - the longest period among the 18 varieties tested.


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