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I've got two red currant bushes in my backyard, probably several years old, slightly neglected. Anyone have experience maintaining these? I'm about to string them up a bit as they have so much fruit on them they're hanging on the ground, figure if there was anything else that I should be doing for them, such as pruning, I might as well do it all at once.

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Ideally, red currants should be trained into a sort of empty goblet shape, which allows air and light to circulate right through the bush, and makes harvesting the fruit easier.

My inclination at the moment, though, if the bushes are heavily in fruit, would be to hold off from any aggressive pruning. It should be safe to take off a little new growth to help concentrate the plants' energy on the fruit. Providing some support is an excellent idea.

When you have harvested the bushes, you can start a stricter regimen of care. Cut the central stems out, producing the goblet shape mentioned. Trim off any shoots less than around 10cm from the soil, and remove any suckers that might be around the main stem.

Cut back the main outer stem growth to about a third of their length (possibly less, depending on how neglected the plants have been!), cutting to an outward-facing bud. The inner, more upright, shoots, can be cut back to about a half of their original length.

This page on the BBC's Gardening mini-site might be of use. Of course, bear in mind the advice here is aimed at gardeners in the UK, so you might need to adjust timings a bit for your location.

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