The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › Repeal the Ribes (Currants, Gooseberries, Jostaberries) Ban in Maine

Repeal the Ribes (Currants, Gooseberries, Jostaberries) Ban in Maine

Lisa Fernandes
lisa.f.organizer
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 1,587
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So, now that we will have a state gov who is quite keen on deregulation, this would be the perfect time to have the Ribes Ban repealed from the Maine statutes, just as it has been repealed in many other states.

These can be commercially, nutritionally and ecologically valuable crops here in Maine.

Some links:
http://www.fruit.corn...­
http://davesgarden.co...­
http://en.wikipedia.o...­
http://en.wikipedia.o...­

Who knows an elected state official who might be willing to sponsor or co-sponsor the repeal?
Also, anyone have the credentials to download the full PDF of this article (abstract below)?
http://onlinelibrary....­

The genus Ribes L., known as currants and gooseberries, contains more than 150 diverse species indigenous throughout the northern hemisphere and along the Rocky Mountain, Sierra Nevada and Sierra Madres in North America through mountain ranges of Central America to the Andes in South America. Beginning in the 1400s, four main crop types, black currants (Ribes, subgenus: Ribes, section: Botrycarpum), red and white currants (Ribes, subgenus: Ribes, section: Ribes) and gooseberries (Ribes, subgenus: Grossularia) were domesticated from European species. American and Eurasian species were selected and combined into the germplasm base of European and American breeding programmes in the 1900s. Black currants (R. nigrum and hybrids) are a major economic crop in many European countries but are minor in North America, although they can be produced successfully in the northern states and southern portion of the Canadian provinces. Ribes plants can be hosts for white pine blister rust, caused by Cronartium ribicola. This disease was introduced from Asia through Europe into North America ca. 1900. Restrictions were imposed on currants and gooseberries in the United States when the rust was observed on this continent. Although some states have recently repealed these restrictions, by 2009, 12 states continue to have 40-year-old laws prohibiting or restricting Ribes cultivation. The purpose of this paper is to describe the cultivation of currants and gooseberries and their interaction with rust. Ribes production has a potentially great economic value in American, niche markets that could help sustain small-acreage, berry farmers.

Greg Martin
user 3541854
Acton, ME
Post #: 95
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Lisa, you're my hero! I agree that's it's past time for this. There are many great studies that have been done to show that most Ribes can be grown with no threat to our pines.
Red currants used to be grown in the understory of orchards as they fruit well in partial shade (not many fruiting plants fruit well in shade)...overyielding polycultures in practice.
I'll check in with my state rep to see what she suggests (a topic we've spoken about over the years). Hopefully if a bunch of us start asking our state senators and reps about this we can get more interest from them.
Ribes are perfect for Maine...we have the perfect conditions for them.
Lisa Fernandes
lisa.f.organizer
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 1,588
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Thanks Greg! Others in the ag and hort world would support lifting this ban, too.
David Spahr
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 603
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I'm not sure if I am in favor of this. I have a lot of pines I would hate to see die. That said, They are certainly growing wild all around here. I see them on the side of my road and in many other places. It should be noted that the state has a grand total of one person in charge of eradication. That is kind of ridiculous. They could spend all summer just in my town.

This does, once again, put me on the side of native species and against the cultivars that brought the disease problem. We should be allowed to grow those that do not spread disease.

David
David Spahr
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 604
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I see by reading that cultivars are alledgedly better. OK. A lot of times at greenhouses plants are marked incorrectly and no one checks to see if a cultivar is what it is. Actually, there is no way to know unless you vet your source closely. One screw up could be game over.

David
Lisa Fernandes
lisa.f.organizer
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 1,589
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For what it's worth, I am not finding anything that points to problems arising in places that have already lifted the ban. Not a 100% exhaustive literature search, but still. Worth noting that this may no longer be as big of an issue as it once was perceived to be.
Tree
user 4058763
Hollis Center, ME
Post #: 270
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Here's a link to Ribes info http://www.ars.usda.g...­
It has a link to immune cultivars.
Maine can certainly start by amending the ribes ban to allow immune cultivars. I don't know how safe Rust-resistant ribes are....
Lisa Fernandes
lisa.f.organizer
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 1,590
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Tree! Best link yet! I love it.
David Spahr
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 605
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I did some research on this and spoke to the state eradication expert. Apparently the biggest danger and problem is in Southern Maine although blister rust is a statewide problem at this point. The thing that stuck with me about this is that the real danger is in outcrossing of the cultivars with wild species that could dramatically increase the amount of ribes growing unmanaged. The outcrossing could make them susceptible to the fungus.

I guess that in terms of "wild" species around here, they are for the most part not from wild stock.

When the eradication program was in full swing (till the 90s) it is believed that the rust problem was cut by more than 50% esp. in Southern Maine. We are supposedly living off the "interest" of this program now.

David
Lisa Fernandes
lisa.f.organizer
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 1,591
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This is from 2007 PPH piece:

The April 29 Sunday Telegram article by Lee Reich on the clove currant, an ornamental relative of the red and black currants known for their jellies, raised some concerns. Reich is a former soils and plant researcher for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Cornell University and a popular gardening author who knows his plants, and the clove currant sounds great.

But it is illegal in Maine.

The Latin name for the clove currant is Ribes odoratum, and all ribes plants have been banned or quarantined in Maine because they are alternate hosts for the fungus that causes white pine blister rust, which could decimate the state pine forests.

Maine is the Pine Tree State, after all.

''The way the law goes in Maine, '' said David Handley, a vegetable and small fruit specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension at Highmoor Farm, ''is that all ribes species are quarantined, not only red and black currant, but gooseberry and jostaberry as well.''

The plants are banned in southern Maine and quarantined in eastern Washington County and much of Aroostook County.

Handley said there have been efforts in the past to relax the ban, and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association is considering seeking a change, but the forestry industry has been opposed in the past.

Gooseberries and a few interspecies hybrids of the red and black currants are said to be only weak carriers of the blister rust, and other pine-forest states have amended their bans to allow them with restrictions, basically to keep them 1,000 feet from pines.
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