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New Release: Jahns Prairie Gooseberry

New Release: Jahns Prairie Gooseberry
by Arden Delidais

The United States Department of Agriculture and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announces the release of a new gooseberry cultivar - Jahns Prairie.  It is rated as a disease resistant, high quality, dessert gooseberry.  The fruit is large, globose, dark red and weighs in at 3.8 grams per berry.  The plant grows upright to a height of 1.5 meters with some sprawling branches.  The young plants are prickly and the prickles remain on the stem as the plant ages.  There are 1 to 3 nodal spines, less than 1 cm long.

This plant was selected from a native population in the Red Deer River valley of Alberta in July, 1984.  Dr. Otto Jahn collected cuttings which were evaluated by the US National Clonal Germplasm Repository in Corvallis, Oregon from 1991 to 1995. The gooseberry was named in memory of Dr. Jahn, who was the first curator of this station.

Jahns Prairie is reported by Corvallis researchers to have high resistance to insects and diseases.  Spring frost damage complexed with gray mold, Botrytis, did not cause stem injury.  Even the high disease pressure of a cool, wet summer, didn’t infect stems or fruits with powdery mildew while other near by cultivars were severely affected.  Leaves were green all summer and free of leaf spot.  So far, white pine blister rust has not been observed on the leaves of this plant.  Aphids and saw-flies did not infest Jahns Prairie while other cultivars were bothered.

Jahns Prairie has now come full circle and is being tested under prairie conditions close to where it was originally selected.  DNA Gardens, a tissue culture lab in central Alberta worked diligently this past winter to acquire plant material and received in-vitro plants to work with.  Material was bulked up and sent to the Alberta Fruit Crop Specialist,  Lloyd Hausher of CDC South.  Plants will be trialed in Brooks, Edmonton and Elnora.  Now, we can sit back and see what these gooseberries do when they come home.  Updates will continue.

The fresh fruit quality of Jahns Prairie is equivalent to European gooseberries.  They are productive with yields comparable to Invicta.   Jahns Prairie is an exciting one to watch especially if you are familiar with the incredible fruit from the Hinomakki and Invicta gooseberries.   Hinomakki and Invicta gooseberries are selections of European native gooseberries, Ribes uva-crispa while Jahns Prairie is a selection of the North American Northern Gooseberry, Ribes oxyacanthoides L.  When comparing Jahns Prairie with European selections, we are hoping for equivalent fruit quality, preferred growth habit such as being more upright and additional hardiness.   As you can see, we are very excited about the potential of Jahns Prairie.  The trialing and waiting continues so keep posted.

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