I recently learned that White pine blister rust has mutated and now infects Ribes cultivars that were previously thought immune. I grow several varieties of gooseberries and currants in my nursery, all of which I have thought to be immune or highly resistant to the rust. Does anyone have any information on which varieties are still safe to plant?, Is it wrong to assume that gooseberries and native currants are safe?
I have heard that it is primarily the European black currant varieties that are susceptible.
I have zero intention of endangering the white pines in my region, but also feel that the ribes genus fills an important ecological niche. I want to continue offering ribes in my nursery, but only in a responsible way.
Thanks for any help
Twisted Tree Farm and Nursery
According to this article, which was last updated 11/2014, in NY you should still be able to grow the black currant varieties "consort," "crusader," and "titania." No mention of specific red currant and gooseberry cultivars is made, but those species are supposed to be much more resistant to blister rust than black currant.
Some other things you can do to help protect against blister rust:
1) If you have any white pine on your property, prune the lower limbs to a height of 8ft or half the tree's height - whichever is less. Come back later and prune up to 8ft if necessary. This dramatically reduces the chance of infection since blister rust spores are spread by wind and enter the tree via its leaves. Although the wind may of course blow spores higher than 8ft, the vast majority will remain below that level.