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Temperamental Plums

Posted by jjwillie25 Central PA (My Page) on
Tue, May 15, 12 at 14:02

Hi all-
First time poster, lurker for years. I have an issue that is frustrating me to no end with two of my plum trees.

We in the northeast, had an unusually warm winter and my peaches, plums and cherries were flowering in march. They are 4 year old trees, very hardy, well pruned and healthy. I was building fires at 3AM throughout Late march and april to save the blossoms from the frost. It seems to have worked since my redhaven and elberta peaches are loaded (since thinned).
My plums, on the other hand, seemed to dodge the frost as well. There were hundreds of tiny 1/4 inch green fruits after petal fall. Now, nearly three weeks later, they are turning yellow and falling off the tree. I maintain a rather regimented spray schedule, so I am puzzled as to what happened. There are a few fruits left on the tree that are now 1" size. The variety of the plums are Alderman and Underwood (a shiro relative). This same thing happened last year as well.

Obviously, they are lost this year, but what can I do to achieve a decent crop?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Temperamental Plums

This seems normal to me for plum trees that age.

RE: Temperamental Plums

Really? That is what I was hoping. What age are they considered mature?

RE: Temperamental Plums

JJ, Japanese plums often have started fruiting some by four years. Both of those plums are super hardy types, and there are some puzzling pollination issues in the very hardy plums. I don't know a lot on the topic but have noticed a similar problem on my Gracious plum, it sets a ridiculous number of blossoms but they nearly all drop. Generally I wouldn't recommend getting such plums unless you are so far north that nothing else would work. I would consider contacting the nursery you got them from and see if they have any advice. Maybe those types just take longer to start fruiting. My Gracious has given me zero until this year when it finally decided to set a couple fruits.


RE: Temperamental Plums

My Italian Plum (prune) is going on eight years old. It finally had 10 plums on it. I hope they make it. Very long wait!

RE: Temperamental Plums

  • Posted by olpea zone 6 KS (My Page) on
    Tue, May 15, 12 at 22:25

I've had a Rosy Gage plum that has bloomed for the last 2 or 3 years. It's getting to be a big tree. This year it was really loaded with blooms, but only set two fruits. All the rest turned yellow and fell off. I've noticed one of the two fruit that set is gone. Down to one fruit.

Same thing with Coe's. Lots of blooms, all the fruitlets fell off.

Green Gage set quite a few plums, as did Kirk's blue.

I grew Italian plum once (Early Italian). It was productive. As I recall it started producing at year 3. I had a President plum right next to it.

RE: Temperamental Plums

I found this ... sounds like pollination may be the biggest problem. I've got a decent crop out there on my trees (6 year old Superior/Alderman) and I wonder if it isn't because I live near a thicket of wild plums (around 100 yards from the trees). I should really get some bud wood and chip bud some wild plum onto one of my trees.

RE: Temperamental Plums

  • Posted by mrclint z10SoCal Valley (My Page) on
    Wed, May 16, 12 at 0:21

"I maintain a rather regimented spray schedule..."

I know the arguments for and against spraying, so I won't beat on that drum. But if any of your spraying is at a bloom time in your locale, or when pollinators are active, they may be staying away or worse. If that is not the case, I would recommend planting flowering herbs, veggies or ornamentals that your local pollinators enjoy. If you keep them around and happy they will do all the work for you. For this reason I have potato bushes (for the big black bumbles), allow cilantro, arugula and nasturtiums to freely/wildly reseed (for the hover and honey bees). Oh, and the awesome blooms, fragrance and greens for salads & salsas are off the hook too.

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