Gooseberry

Description

Gooseberry (Ribes spp.) is a small spiny bush in the family Rosaceae which is grown for its edible fruit of the same name. The gooseberry bush is a spiny shrub with deeply lobed, dark green leaves and produce bell shaped flowers and green/yellow to red berries approximately 1 inch long containg many tiny seeds. If managed properly, gooseberry bushes can be very long lived, growing to 0.9–3.0 m (3–10 ft) tall and up to 1.8 m (6 ft) wide and producing a crop of fruit each spring. The gooseberry has been derived mainly from two species, the European gooseberry Ribes grossularia, native to North Africa, and the American gooseberry (Ribes hirtellum), native to Northeast and central US and parts of Canada. The American gooseberry tends to be smaller than the species grown in Europe, with weeping stems that will rot easily if they are allowed to be in contact with the ground.


Uses

Gooseberries can be eaten fresh or used as an ingredient in other foods such as desserts, jams and preserves or drinks such as tea. The fruit can also be used as an ingredient for pickling. They are also used to flavor beverages such as sodas, flavored waters, or milk, and can be made into fruit wines and teas. They can be preserved in the forms of jams or dried fruit.


Propagation


Basic requirements
Gooseberries grow best in cool, moist locations and can be damaged by intense summer heat. Gooseberry can be grown in partial shade but it is essential that the plants have a good air circulation around them to help prevent the development of disease. Gooseberry has a chilling requirement of between 1000 to 1200 hours between 1.7 and 7.2°C (35–45°F) to break dormancy. Plants can tolerate cold and light frosts but temperatures below -2°C (28°F) can cause damage to the flower buds. Gooseberries can be grown successfully in a range of soils but perform optimally in well-draining sandy loams which are rich in organic matter with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.

Propagation
Gooseberry plants can be planted as rooted plants obtained from a nursery or from cuttings from established plants. Cuttings should be taken in winter or early spring when the plant is dormant. Cuttings should be 15–20 cm (6–8 in) in length and taken from the previous years growth. The cuttings should be stored in sand or peat moss in a refrigerator or other cold location until early spring.

Planting
Gooseberry plants and cuttings should be planted out in early spring. Plants obtained from a nursery should have a strong root system. Remove any damaged roots prior to planting and cut the stems back so that they are between 15 and 25 cm (6–10 in) depending on the size of the root system. Plant the gooseberries in prepared soil a little deeper than they were in the nursery and gently tamp the soil around the plants. Spacing depends on the variety being grown but generally gooseberries should be spaced 0.9–1.5 m (3–5 ft) apart, allowing 2.4–3.0 m (8–10 ft) between rows. Closer spacings can be used if a hedgerow is desired. Cuttings should be similarly spaced. The tips of the cuttings can be dipped in rooting hormone prior to planting to encourage root development.

Pruning
Gooseberries should be pruned in the winter while dormant. Damaged or drooping canes should be removed as well as any which shade the center of the plant. After the first year of growth, the plant should be cut to leave 6 to 8 vigorous canes. After the second growing season all but 4 or 5 one year old shoots and 3 or 4 two year old canes should be removed. after the third growing season, retain 3–4 each of 1-, 2- and 3- year old wood. After the fourth growing season, all of the four year old wood should be removed and the plants should be pruned annually following the directions for after the third growing season.



References

Bratsch, A. Speciality Crop Profile: Ribes (Currants and Gooseberries). Virginia Cooperative Extension. Available at: https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/438/438-107/4.... [Accessed 11 December 14]. Free to access

Roper, T. R., Mahr, D. L. & McManus, P. L. (1998). Growing currants, gooseberries and elderberries in Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension. Available at: http://learningstore.uwex.edu/assets/.... [Accessed 11 December 14]. Free to access




Common Pests and Diseases

Anthracnose
Drepanopeziza ribis

Symptoms
Brown to black lesions on leaves which enlarge over time and may develop a purple margin; leaves turning yellow and dropping from plant; dark flecks on berries; berries may split and drop from plant
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Disease emergence is favored by wet weather in Spring; spores are spread by splashing water
Management
Remove all leaf debris from around plants as soon as they fall from plants; applications of apropriate fungicide may be necessary

Botrytis dieback (Gray mold berry rot)
Botrytis cinerea

Symptoms
Gray fuzzy mould covering leaves and fruit; branches turning dark at tips and dying back; unripe fruit dropping from plant
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Disease favors wet and humid environments with poor air circulation; fungus overwinters on plant debris in the soil
Management
Plant gooseberry in a location with good air circulation; remove weeds from around plants to aid drying of foliage; harvest fruit in a timely manner before it becomes overripe; applications of appropriate fungicides may be necessary and should be applied during bloom

Currant cane blight
Botryosphaeria ribis

Symptoms
Sudden wilting and dying of scattered canes or whole bush; pith of cane discolored tan to black; canes may become hollow and snap from plant
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Fungus likely overwinters in infected canes
Management
Prune out infected branches in Spring and any wilting canes in Summer; remove plants that are severely infected or dead; protective sprays of appropriate fungicides can help protect uninfected plants from disease

Septoria leaf spot
Mycosphaerella ribis

Symptoms
Symptoms on leaves are similar to anthracnose (see entry) but lesions develop a lighter center and the leaves drop from the plant
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Fungus survives on leaf debris on the ground
Management
Try to reduce leaf wetness by removing weeds around plants, using adequate plant spacings etc.; application of appropriate fungicides can help control the disease

American gooseberry mildew
Sphaerotheca mors-uvae

Symptoms
Powdery, white patches on young leaves, stems and branch tips which kill patches of the leaf and cause leaf curling and deformation; fungal fruiting bodies may be visible in the patches as black dots; white patches may also appear on fruit and turns dark brown in color with a rough texture
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Disease favors cool, humid, rainy environments; prevalent in the early spring and fall
Management
Reduce humidity around plants by keeping area free from weeds, using recommended plant spacings and pruning plants; plant gooseberry varieties that are resistant to powdery mildew

White pine blister rust
Cronartium ribicola

Symptoms
Yellow spots that develop into brown lesions on leaves; yellow fungal fruiting bodies on undersides of leaves; fibrous growth on infection sites.
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Plants become infected by spores released from white pine
Management
Avoid planting near white pine

Aphids (Currant aphid)
Cryptomyzus ribis

Symptoms
Small soft bodied insects on underside of leaves and/or stems; if aphid infestation is heavy it may cause leaves to yellow and/or distorted, necrotic spots on leaves and/or stunted shoots; aphids secrete a sticky, sugary substance called honeydew which encourages the growth of sooty mold on the plants;stunted growth and distorted leaves; sticky residue on leaves
Cause
Insect
Comments
Aphids overwinter as eggs on stems
Management
If aphid population is limited to just a few leaves or shoots then the infestation can be pruned out to provide control; check transplants for aphids before planting; use tolerant varieties if available; reflective mulches such as silver colored plastic can deter aphids from feeding on plants; sturdy plants can be sprayed with a strong jet of water to knock aphids from leaves; insecticides are generally only required to treat aphids if the infestation is very high - plants generally tolerate low and medium level infestation; insecticidal soaps or oils such as neem or canola oil are usually the best method of control; always check the labels of the products for specific usage guidelines prior to use

Currant borer
Synanthedon tipuliformis

Symptoms
Withered, yellow leaves; pith of cane dark and hollow; canes may die; adult insect is a small moth with clear wings; larvae are white with a brown head
Cause
Insect
Comments
Adult female lays her eggs on the canes, larvae hatch out and tunnel into the cane, boring through the pith
Management
Prune damaged branches below damaged area and destroy; appropriate insecticides must be applied before larvae enter canes in order to be effective

Stinkbugs (Brown mormorated stink bug)
Halyomorpha halys

Symptoms
Dark colored pinpricks on fruit surrounded by a lighter area that turns yellow or remains light green; stink bugs often carry pathogens in their mouthparts which can cause secondary infections and decay of fruit; adult insect is shield-shaped and brown or green in color; may have pink, red or yellow markings; eggs are drum shaped and laid in clusters on the leaves; larvae resemble the adults but are smaller
Cause
Insect
Comments
Adult insects overwinter under leaves, on legumes, blackberries or on certain weeds such as mustard or Russian thistle
Management
Remove weeds around crop which may act as overwintering sites for stink bugs and practice good weed management throughout the year; organically accepted control methods include the use of insecticidal soaps, kaolin clay and preservation of natural enemies; chemical treatments are not recommended for tomatoes that are to be processed for paste or canning unless secondary infections with other pathogens are a concern