Currants and White Pine Blister Rust

Can someone help me figure out if it’s okay for me to grow currants near my neighbor’s pine trees? I’m in Massachusetts and I believe there was a restriction from growing them near Pines because of White Pine Blister Rust. I thought I read somewhere that it’s no longer restricted but I’m not sure.

Neighbors on both sides of us have an Eastern Pine tree and I don’t want to cause a problem for them. Our lots are small too, so while I would be about 200ft at least from one neighbor’s tree, the other one is more like 50ft away from where I considered growing them. Although they planted it less than 10ft away from our large Maple to it’s South and it’s lost a lot of branches from storms. There’s really not much left of the tree.

Only the black currants are susceptible and many of them are resistant. But I think MA still has a ban on all currants. My state lifted the ban on reds and allows resistant blacks. I believe the only legal way to obtain them is by permit. You can check your local extension office on how to obtain one, and tell any nursery you have a permit. A requirement might be that you are nowhere near white pines. If you do ask, let us know what they say.
Raintree will not ship to you without permit, Indiana Berry won’t ship to you at all, but maybe if you presented a permit they would.

Drew, thanks very much. You’ve answered that question very clearly. I will probably just skip them, since that is the case. I am near White Pines and I may as well just put my efforts elsewhere.

The thinking on banning ribes is slowly changing in many states. In Maine there is the rust problem but does it come from domesticated ribes or the wild. My opinion is possibly both. The countless millions of wild gooseberries all over is likely the big culprit. Banning farmers and hobbyists from having the domesticated ribes is a disservice to the public and has solved nothing in the state of Maine. It would take all of the Forest Service employees across the nation to try to eliminate the wild gooseberries in Maine and I doubt they could do it. Every small farm in this state has had a small red current bush in the yard. No shortage of white pine here. I even grow them in the yard nest to the red currents and no problems. What a shame our Forest Service has come out with and maintained this backward thinking policy!!!

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I agree bberry, you are spot on correct. I would not be concerned about growing currants anywhere, if you can get them, do so.

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I first ordered black currants about 25 years ago in NY State. Never checked on the specific legality and have been growing them next to white pines all that time as well. There is no white pine timber industry anywhere near me.

When I first began growing them the thinking was that the ban didn’t stop the species from thriving in the wild and was therefore pointless and that the link was highly exaggerated. Apparently that is not the current thinking.

Notice the contradiction of these two links. How could a Mass, nursery be selling black currants when all black currants, even disease resistant varieties, have recently been rebanned from the state?

It’s important to note that there are virtually no cultivars of any ribes that can be considered immune. WPBR is a fungus that has mutated many times in the past. A new strain was recently discovered in NH. It has been shown to use many immune and resistant cultivars of black, red, and white currants, as well as many gooseberries as hosts.
The truth is, there are wild ribes everywhere. And, your plants will likely add to the spore count of wpbr. Resistance among white pines is growing every year. It is really not a simple issue, as much as I wish it were. I wrote an article on wpbr, you can read it here if you’d like to hear more about this fascinating fungus

Chestnut, that’s a very well constructed and interesting article.

“Currants, gooseberries, and ‘Jostaberry’ (a cross between black currant
and gooseberry) are hardy, productive members of the Ribes Family, that
are underutilized in Maryland gardens. Black currants are an alternate
host for white pine blister rust disease and until 1966 there was a
federal prohibition against growing them. It is now legal to grow
currants in Maryland. ‘Crusader’ and ‘Consort’ are two resistant black
cultivars. Red and white currants are all resistant to this disease.”

edit: Of course it could be in error:

FNat, I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what you are trying to communicate. Is it that they are currently legal in Maryland?

Thanks for that article. Very informative. As most of you know Maine is known as the Pine Tree State. I have hundreds of very large and very small white pines. I also have lots of wild ribes and I have seen some damage but it does not wipe out all the young pines. Since I have my own bandsaw mill and value white pine greatly I would be very concerned if there was any kind of serious damage to my forest. The threat is greatly overstated and a disservice to farmers here. 11,000 CCC men would have had a very hard task to even make a dent in the wild ribes in Maine. A very failed experiment noting that there is evidence that at least 2 other plants host the disease.

I have a good friend in Johnstown, NY that also has a sawmill and saws much white pine. I do not think there is any threat to white pine there or any shortage. Last time I was there young healthy white pines were abundant. These bans are simply ill conceived vendettas against domesticated ribes and accomplishes zip in light of the fact that wild ribes and other hosts are growing in the nearby fields and often in the shade of healthy white pines!!!

Hi Liz, I live a little closer to you in RI. We can grow red, white and pink currants (but as I found out, I got permits per plant for black currant.) You might want to pass this up as each permit per twig cost $150.00. I just wanted to be legal. I have rust resistant varieties of black currant as well. I planted all of them ten years ago now and all but one ‘Tets’ red currant died. Replaced it with a Rovada red this spring. Norse farm used to sell Black currants but someone told them to stop. They only sell, red, white and pink varieites now. Too bad.