Salinity Tolerance of Black Currants

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 Authors: Chris Neeser, Nick Savidov, and Thean Pheh
Crop Diversification Centre South, Brooks Alberta.

In 2000 a group of farmers in the Red Deer area planted a number of black currant orchards in an attempt to diversify their operations. In the years following establishment, it became apparent that several of these black currant orchards suffered from poor growth. In one case the problem was confined to clearly defined patches that spanned several rows. In other cases the problem took the form of irregular growth along the rows. Soil salinity appeared to be the most likely cause of this problem, especially since black currants are generally considered intolerant of saline soils (Korac et al. 1988).

Black currant orchards around Red Deer are located on black chernozemic soils, which are generally quite fertile, but have also a certain amount of salinity issues. In Alberta the salts most commonly responsible for high levels of electrical conductivity are sulfates of calcium, magnesium and sodium (VanderPluym,1982). If Na levels are high or not balanced with the Ca and Mg, soil tilth can also be affected. The positively charged Na cations attach to the negatively charged clay particles in the soil, causing the soil to be sticky when wet, and hard and impermeable when dry, which can result in a hardpan (Acton and Gregorich, 1995).

In view of the fact that salinity problems are difficult to remediate (Henry et al. 1987) it was found to be imperative to provide growers with information on the salinity tolerance of this crop to guide future site selection of new black currant orchards. The work described herein was undertaken to assess the salinity tolerance of black currants with the objective to provide general guidelines regarding maximum allowable salinity levels in soils intended for black currant production. The research consisted of an experiment in which black currants were grown in hydroponic solutions with varying levels of sodium chloride, of a second experiment where black currants were grown in pots containing soils with salinity levels commonly found under field conditions, and a survey of orchards in which salinity levels were suspected to have suppressed growth.

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This document is maintained by Shelley Barkley.
This information published to the web on April 14, 2008.
Last Reviewed/Revised on April 28, 2017.