Q&A with Blackcurrant Grower John Hinchliff

John Hinchliff is one of just 35 blackcurrant growers in the UK and this month we’ve been catching up with him about his life as a grower.

Who in your family is involved in growing, past, present and future? I am a fourth-generation farmer but when it comes to blackcurrants, I am the first of my family to grow them. 

How long have you been growing blackcurrants? 40 years.

What varieties do you grow and in what region/area? My farm is based in Kent and that’s where we grow all of our blackcurrants. Our varieties include Gairn, Starav, Hope, Klibreck, Avon, Alder, Tirran and Lawers. 

What tonnage do you harvest annually and where do they go? 360 tonnes per year. They mostly go to Lucozade Ribena Suntory but a small amount is sold to Sainsbury’s – handpicked in punnets.

What else do you grow? We grow apples, pears and cherries on the farm. 

Can you give one tip that people could benefit from when growing blackcurrants? My best advice is to prune hard because ultimately you will get more and better fruit. 

Can you tell us about some of the ways in which you manage the land sustainably? Sustainable growing is really important to the farm and we plant lots of wildflower areas with wide margins to create habitats for wildlife, and we ensure there are plenty of bird boxes across the land to protect the birds.

What’s your favourite way to enjoy blackcurrants? Ribena Frusion, as it has got me drinking more water.

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