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Jostaberries

Confi®Beere Jogusto® (Jostabeere)

The jostaberry is a gardener's dream come true, as it combines the properties of two types of fruit in one new berry. Thanks to decades of breeding, blackcurrants and gooseberries...

   
 
Jostaberry Jodeli® (Confi®Berry)

(Ribes x nidigrolaria) – the sweetest jostaberry with compact growth

From £8.40 *

Jostaberry Jofruity® (Confi®Berry)

(Ribes x nidigrolaria) – the early ripening jostaberry with the highest fertility

From £8.40 *

Jostaberry Jogusto® (Confi®Berry)

(Ribes x nidigrolaria) – the late ripening jostaberry with the strong growth

From £8.40 *

   
 

More useful information about Jostaberries

... have botanically created this amazing fruit, which also clearly indicates the parents in its name: 'Jo' stands for currants and 'sta' for gooseberries. The loveliest types of this berry are presented here in our shop and they have the combination of the best properties of the parent varieties: the fruit size up to 2 cm comes from the gooseberries, as does the more fruity and not too strongly flavoured cassis flavour; the colour, thornlessness and fertility come from the blackcurrant. Overall, the fruity jostaberry taste is particularly evident in jams, jellies and juice.

Buy Jostaberries - The Beautiful Selection in the Lubera® Shop

Even though the combination of the fruit properties has succeeded almost perfectly, the jostaberry varieties have had one major disadvantage so far: they were not sufficiently fertile, which is ultimately due to their origin as a 'fusion product' (see below for the history of the jostaberry). In our Lubera® breeding programme, we have now bred a series of new josta varieties that no longer have this disadvantage; they bear much richer fruit and also have a much more compact growth overall. While the conventional jostaberries like to grow to a height of 200-300 cm, our new Confi® jostaberries only measure 120-180 cm and the shoots are densely packed with short strings and huge berries during the ripening period.

So why not check out our range with the three new Confi® jostaberries which offer further advantages in addition to the well-known properties:

  • Like the old josta varieties, the Confi® Jostaberries are thornless.
  • Two new varieties, Jodeli® and Jofruity®, have a significantly reduced growth with much better fertility. Jogusto® grows even faster and the fertility is also significantly increased here.
  • The compactness of Jofruity® is quite unusual for a jostaberry; it grows more like a blackcurrant.
  • Jodeli® and Jogusto® have huge berries measuring up to 1.8 cm in diameter.
  • Like the older jostaberries, the new varieties also bear fruit on the old perennial wood, which simplifies the training on trellises and also enables reduced pruning measures when growing shrubs. This applies especially to the Confi® jostaberries Jodeli® and Jogusto®.
  • The new varieties are largely tolerant to leaf diseases and there is no premature leaf fall. Even with zero plant protection that has been practiced over the years, mildew only occurs here and there, but is easily dealt with by the compact, vigorous plants and has no impact on fertility or the yield.

Confi®Beere Jofruity® (Jostabeere)

Which jostaberry variety for which use?

Of the new Confi® berries, Jogusto® is the strongest growing variety. It can also be used in a wild fruit hedge in the foreground or on the edge of a planting. Thanks to its somewhat stronger growth and the beautiful branching on the old wood, it is also very well suited for use together with Jodeli® in a three-branch hedge, where new fruit wood is constantly being produced on three firm, permanent branches. Jogusto® also has a much later ripening time, about 2-4 weeks after the other varieties. Jogusto® can also be harvested together with the earlier Jodeli® variety if the fruits are to be processed into jam. The fruits of Jogusto®, which are still slightly red and almost ripe, then provide the pectin, and the fully ripe fruits of Jodeli® provide the sugar and the broad aroma.

Jodeli® tastes best of all the new jostaberry varieties; it has the most sugar and impresses with its extraordinary fertility. The Confi® jostaberry Jodeli® also forms a beautiful, round-shaped shrub, which can also stand alone in a garden. Jodeli® is suitable for growing as a shrub or a hedge.

Finally, Jofruity® completes the range. This variety is so compact that it looks almost like a normal currant. Although it has slightly smaller fruits than the other two new jostaberries, even the fully ripe fruits still have a distinct, red shimmer and captivate with a very fruity aroma. The jostaberry Jofruity® is especially suitable for a smaller garden and can also be planted together with other currants in a row with a distance of about 100 cm from currant to jostaberry.

Planting jostaberries – the most important tips and tricks

Jostaberries generally still grow relatively strongly and they also develop strong, fleshy roots in pots. It is therefore all the more important that these roots are either cut or strongly loosened before planting out, so that the roots can grow out of the pot quickly at the garden location and give the plant an ideal chance to grow.

Soil-wise, the jostaberries show little fear of contact, withstand a pH of 5.5 to 7.5, and can also cope with heavier soils after the year of planting. The only thing that even the robust jostaberry cannot stand is waterlogging.

If you want to raise the jostaberries as shrubs, you should plant them 10 cm deeper than in a pot, i.e. the top edge of the pot should be covered with at least 10 cm of topsoil. This ensures that there are enough buds under the soil and also dormant buds, which also form new basic shoots again and again. When trained on a trellis with three branches or even if you want to form a standard, it is advisable to plant high. The pot surface should then only be covered with 1-3 cm of soil, as you want as few ground shoots as possible.

When growing a jostaberry as a shrub, all branches can be left when planting; the shrub is not cut for the first 3-4 years. When a hedge is trained as a shrub, only the three strongest branches are left standing, which later serve as support branches. For example, if you want to use Jodeli® or Jogusto® to grow a standard, a jostaberry tree, only the strongest and straightest shoot should be left; remove its side shoots and slightly cut the tip so that a crown can form there. If the trunk is not yet high enough for the desired crown, it must grow another year. Of course, all new bottom shoots should be removed twice a year when training as a standard or a hedge.

The best location for jostaberries

This special kind of fruit is also very tolerant; it can also withstand partial shade and continues to bear fruit even in full shade (but decreases in fertility). Nevertheless, Jodeli® needs sunlight if the fruits are to reach their full potential on aroma. But in the end, partial shade is not so bad: especially in the last few years, jostaberries have suffered more often from sunburn in midsummer.

Extremely late frost-prone locations are of course not suitable as a location, as crop failures can occur here during frost at the time of flowering.

Pruning jostaberries

Both the well-known old jostaberry varieties and the new Confi® jostaberries bear fruit very well on old, perennial wood. Not only do new flower buds develop again and again, but above all short to medium-long side shoots are repeatedly formed, which then bear fruit in the most beautiful way the following year. Furthermore, we have already mentioned the tendency for the plant to get sunburn. Therefore, we recommend, especially when growing the plants as shrubs, that the jostaberries are grown relatively densely and not cut at all for the first 3-4 years. This is also how full fertility develops. From the 4th or 5th year onwards, an old shoot can be removed completely or pruned to a lower-set young side shoot every year. If you have the impression that too little new fruiting wood is being produced, you can also cut back a few removed side shoots to stubs in order to stimulate the formation of fresh fruiting wood.

This latter cut is actually also the most important pruning measure when training the plants on a trellis, e.g. forming a three-branch hedge: here, removed side wood is continuously cut back to stubs after 2-3 years, so that the formation of fresh branches is stimulated. Base shoots should be completely removed twice a year (before budding and around the longest day); side shoots that are too strong and deep are cut back after 30 cm.

The most compact growing jostaberry Jofruity® is cut more like a normal cassis: in this case, pruning is started in the 2nd to 3rd year, but is limited to the complete removal of about two removed branches every year.

Propagating jostaberry

In autumn or winter, cut off a fresh, this year's grown shoot from the jostaberry variety that is to be propagated and divide it into approx. 15 cm long pieces of wood. These are then placed in a bed or pot, except for the top 1-2 buds. If this is already done in autumn, it must be replanted and pressed down in February, as the frost usually lifts the stakes slightly out of the ground. In March/April, the cuttings will sprout first, but then, under stress, the roots develop; after a year, the young plants can be transplanted to their final location.

Harvesting and processing

Basically, you have to wait until the berries turn completely black, especially with the Confi® berries Jodeli® and Jogusto®: only then has the full aroma developed, only then do the fruits have enough sugar. The berries of the compact Jofruity® variety have a slightly redder colour, so you don't have to wait until they are completely black. As with gooseberries, barely ripe jostaberries have more pectin, so that the jam made with them boils down well without the help of others. As already mentioned, the fully ripe fruits of Jogusto® can also be mixed with some (30-50%) slightly ripe fruits of Jogusto®.

Unfortunately, the jostaberries do not ripen quite simultaneously, but the new Confi® berries are now so far developed that the varieties can be harvested for processing in a single picking, once a large proportion of the fruit has reached full black ripeness (the late-ripening fruits that are still red then provide more pectin). However, if the new Confi® berries are intended for fresh consumption or for freezing, it is still worth harvesting the fruits in two or three pickings, and only ever harvest the plumpest, blackest and ripest fruits. Jostaberries can also be frozen for a longer period and they thaw intact.

Diseases and pests

Jostaberries are very robust against diseases and pests. Above all, we do not see the leaf fall disease known from gooseberries. A little mildew can sometimes be seen on individual shoot tips, but the plants simply put that away in their robustness and the mildew cannot attack older shoot parts or fruit. Plant protection is therefore not necessary.

In case of an intensive local infestation by the spotted wing drosophila, it is advisable to cover the jostaberry shrubs with a protective net, especially from the moment they start to change colour.

The many names of the jostaberry

It is hardly surprising that this still young fruit species also has many names, as it consists of two types of fruit, so to speak. We have already explained the name “Jo-sta”. Comparable breeding results in the east of Germany were called Jochelbeeren, in Austria you sometimes hear the names Rogatze and Joglbeere. A very early precursor of the jostaberry was called Ribes culverwelli in England. The correct botanical name was rather complicated: Ribes x nidigrolaria. This is also easily explained: ni- stands for Ribes nigrum, the black currant, di- stands for Ribes divaricatum (an American gooseberry species, which was also crossed) and grolaria for the old botanical name of the gooseberry Ribes grossularia.

The early history of the jostaberries

The vision of combining gooseberries with blackcurrants has been driving Ribes breeders since the 19th century. A Mr. Culverwell is said to have made crossbreeds of the two as early as 1880. The goal was this: to combine the fruit size and fruitiness of gooseberries with the sugar and aroma of blackcurrants, and thus to breed a new type of fruit that not only bears larger fruits than blackcurrants and is thornless, but also has a tolerance to American gooseberry mildew, if possible. However, the first experiments probably came to nothing – the Ribes culverwelli that resulted were never further developed.

The problem: is it even possible to cross gooseberries and blackcurrants?

If you use the blackcurrants as the mother and the gooseberries as pollen donors in a Cassis x Gooseberry cross, it is relatively easy to produce diploid hybrids, but they no longer bear fruit, i.e. they are sterile. However, if there are isolated fruits, they will be parthenocarpic, i.e. they will produce fruits without fertilisation, and they will not bear germinable seeds – truly a breeding dead end.

The reason for this is the following: blackcurrants (Ribes nigrum) and gooseberries (Ribes uva crispa or Ribes grossularia) both belong to the same plant genus of Ribes, and they probably also historically have the same origin, but they have developed so far apart in evolution and human selection and breeding that they ultimately no longer really fit together.

In the diploid hybrids resulting from the crossing of blackcurrant and gooseberry, the so-called meiosis, the reduction division does not function or does not function satisfactorily. And this meiosis is a decisive prerequisite for generative reproduction, i.e. for the formation of fruits with germinable seeds.

The solution to the problem and the origin of the jostaberries

From the 1920s onwards, Erwin Baur took on this problem and the gooseberry x currant = the jostaberry vision, and after the Second World War, Dr. Rudolf Bauer and Hermann Schimmelpfeng also confronted this problem. They produced hybrids of gooseberry and blackcurrant in relatively complex crossbreeds, and in some cases they also used Ribes divaricatum, a largely mildew-resistant American gooseberry species.

But how did they solve the problem of infertility/sterility? They doubled the chromosome set of the diploid hybrids with the help of the natural colchicine toxin, turning diploid plants into tetraploid plants. In this way, they made the new “double” hybrids compatible with themselves, so to speak, so that meiosis can function satisfactorily or at least sufficiently.

Their decades of breeding work, which was also interrupted by the Second World War and many plant losses, ultimately resulted in the Jochelbeeren (in the former GDR) and Jostabeeren/jostaberries (in the West), and later also various varieties such as Jostine and Jogranda. These varieties are large-fruited and thornless, they combine the characteristics of gooseberries and cassis as dreamed and they are – probably due to the tetraploidy – very vigorous. But unfortunately, one big problem is still not solved: the fertility is further reduced, very large shrubs, which quickly reach a height of 3 m, produce relatively few fruits. This is probably one of the main reasons why jostaberries have never really been able to establish themselves on a broad front, although their suitability for juices and jams is beyond question and also outshines the mother fruits gooseberries and blackcurrants.

What about the jostaberry breeding at Lubera?

Our hypothesis was that new crosses within the jostaberry family could enhance the compatibility of these berries with themselves and thus improve the biggest problem that these plants have, which is the fertility, ultimately the fruit production per crown volume. Martin Weber provided us with seeds from a cross between Josta and Jostine about 12 years ago and we grew several hundred plants from them. In the last 10 years, we have reduced these seeds to the most fertile and best varieties in a complex, two-step selection process, which we are now propagating and marketing.
Confi®Berries – the new generation of jostaberries
With the new Confi®Berries, the essential characteristics of jostaberries have been decisively improved, growth has been significantly reduced in two varieties, and the fertility has been considerably enhanced in all three varieties so that the new 

How will the breeding of jostaberries continue?

How could jostaberries be bred further? How could the new Confi®Berries be improved? As breeders, we know that there is never a standstill or a perfect outcome; we know that more is always possible. However, the question arises as to whether it makes sense to continue breeding within the current jostaberry gene pool. On the one hand, the progress from the classic jostaberry to the Confi®Berries shows that there is still enough genetic diversity to make progress, but on the other hand, we currently have much better, more resistant and also larger-fruited blackcurrant and gooseberry varieties (from the Lubera® breeding programme) available to support the work of Dr. Bauer and Erwin Baur on a new level...and to rebuild the jostaberry from the basis, so to speak, by bastardising the best gooseberry varieties with the best blackcurrant varieties...this decision has not yet been made at Lubera and by our breeder friend Martin Weber, but commercially the jostaberry is probably too unimportant for such a fundamentally new approach. We can already see 3 cm large berries in our minds...But until then another 10-20 years will pass. This is actually a short time if you think back to the beginning of jostaberry breeding around 1880.

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