Where the growers are picking for the fresh fruit market we still hand pick so that the fruit remains undamaged and the berries are especially chosen for their juicy, colourful and ripe appearance; and the currants are still on the strig. This is a skilful job for trained pickers.
When to pick
The varieties available to British Growers become ripe from early July right through to mid-late August and so the harvesting is evenly spread. The starting date for picking varies depending on the district and the season. A heavy crop almost always results in a later start to picking, and ripening will be delayed for two or three days if irrigation is applied shortly before picking, or if the season is cold and wet. When the fruit is all black, the crop weight will gradually diminish due to fruit shriveling or dropping. The duration of the picking season depends on the variety.
Blackcurrants must be picked in sound condition, and must not be under ripe nor overripe, nor fermenting, mouldy, containing leaves, insects, snails or other foreign matter.
Fruit is very susceptible to mould growth when it is pulpy or broken or if it is picked when wet. Under warm humid conditions, mould could develop within a few hours even though the fruit appeared sound when it left the farm. With fruit left outside on a hot, sunny day, the skin temperature of picked blackcurrants may rise above the ambient temperature. Loss of weight by evaporation will take place rapidly under these conditions. Bins of fruit should not be left in the plantation to deteriorate in quality. Growers never supply their customer with a substandard product and so fruit is either moved to a cool open building to give protection from the sun, or from dust or rain, and to reduce the field heat.