Early northern plum to pollinate La Crescent

I have a robust La Crescent plum tree planted in 2010 that blossoms, but doesn’t ever set any fruit. I have noticed it is about done blossoming before my other varieties start to blossom. (Black Ice, Waneta, Alderman, Mt. Royal, Pipestone). What would be a good early variety that would pollinate it? None of my stone fruits have ever been very successful, so I tried sprinkling a spoonful of 20 Mule Team borax around each of them in early summer to see if that would help. It did wonders for my strawberries in the past, so maybe will make a difference. I am on the northern fringe of zone 4.

Just for reference. He doesn’t have La Crescent.

I don’t think most of those will grow this far north. I had a Superior, but it died. Maybe I should try that one again.

I didn’t have much bloom this year as it was the 2nd year for my two trees but Superior seemed a couple days before Alderman.

You might look for wild plums in your area in bloom at the same time as the La Crescent.
U of MN says no Superior for pollinating La Crescent. http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/fruit/stone-fruit-for-minnesota-gardens/

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I listed my plum bloom timing in the link above, Underwood and Toka were early bloomers, Toka is often referenced as a good pollinator, very tasty to boot! I will have scionwood of both, just remind me this winter. LaCrescent has been very vigorous in my yard, and a bit stingy with the fruit…which I would also rank as second tier quality(still good, though) compared to some other hybrids I keep.


Thanks for the offer, Jesse. I have a Toka on my other property, but it seems that bloomed even later than my La Crescent. I suppose I could try some grafting. It doesn’t look like it would be that difficult. What is the earliest blooming northern plum you other northern growers have experienced?

I was going to say Satsuma since that seems early here, but i have no idea if it would be a pollinator of that or not. I’ve never grown La Crescent…doesn’t it have some apricot in it? Maybe a cot would work?

I get excellent fruit set here on plums. I’m not sure if its the wild plums that grow near here or just the cross pollination of all the different varieties i grow. This year it seems like everything bloomed very close to one another.

Well, I have a Sugar Pearl and a Westcot apricot a short distance from the La Crescent plum. They only had a few blooms this past spring for the first time. Maybe they will help in the future. The bees might not be out that early, too, since my cherries (planted in 2007 and 2008 onward) have never gotten fruit, either.

I hope this helps, the following quote was taken from Hardy Fruit Tree Nursery.

“La Crescent’ is a hybrid plum and it must be pollinated by a pure Canadian Plum (Prunus nigra) or a pure American plum (Prunus americana) in order to produce fruit._”

This would also apply to any of your other plums that are hybrids and I think all but the Mount Royal ( which is a european) are, and it will not pollinate any of the others.

I am not an expert for sure, but according to the University of Sask, which has studies published on hybrid plum pollination they state the following…
“Strange but true, the fact is that hybrid plums and their seedlings (which may be 75% wild) are very poor pollinizers with one another. Pure wild plums, Prunus nigra and Prunus americana, are by far the best pollinizers for hybrid plums.”


Oh… bummer. I did stick a bucket of wild plum branches in water next to my Superior this year since I knew that my Alderman wouldn’t have many flowers. I also did a bit of hand pollinating of it with wild plum blossoms. I guess I will have to repeat this practice in the future or add some pollinizer branches of wild plum. This year was an off year for wild plum here, and I didn’t find any worthy of a second bite. Out of a 100 yard long thicket of planted seedling P. americana I think maybe 20% had fruit. The bloom window on each individual is big too.

Yeah…i think adding a wild plum is a very good idea if none are nearby. The issue will be when it blooms. I don’t recall if mine are blooming as early as say Satsuma…that thing bloomed very early (around the time of the apricots)…something must have pollinated it because it set plenty of fruit.

@JeeseS - How does South Dakota compare? Fedco’s listing is a little bit confusing as in one place they call it a hybrid and two others they refer to it as P. americana. Though this U of MN publication indicates it is a hybrid. Growing Fruit in the Upper Midwest - Don Gordon - Google Books

It sounds like I need a native plum then. I wonder if St. Lawrence Nursery still handles them? I get tired of year after year thinking this will be the year I get a bumper plum and cherry harvest, then nothing materializes. I even tried cross-pollinating with a feather duster! Thanks, all, for that info.

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South Dakota is also recommended as a pollinator, but for the later blooming hybrids. Much larger fruit than a native p americana and ripens late too. I also keep a couple ungrafted p americana in my plum patch as pollinators, if you’d like scion.


Gurneys list their American plums as blooming in early June. Mine started bloom on April 19th in 2016, which was probably a little earlier than most years. Jesse, do you know when yours blooms? If it would work as a pollinator, it wouldn’t matter what sort of plums it gets, as I have space for it. If it became invasive, all I would have to do is leave some unprotected, and the deer would take care of it.


Has your Westcot ever fruited? Do you like the taste?

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Matt_in_Maryland12h northwoodswis4
Has your Westcot ever fruited? Do you like the taste?

Has never fruited. Part of the tree broke off one winter, so it isn’t very big, plus is in mostly just sand. I’ve kind of given up hope on the apricots, although my sweet cherry actually has a light crop of cherries after nine years, so you never know.


Hi Jesse! Thanks for your comment. Do you still grow Underwood and Toka plums? I’d love to get a couple scions from you if that’s possible. I have a La Crescent that I’d like to graft onto. Please let me know how I can make it worth your time. Thanks! benjamin.hirt on Instagram

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Sure I can help with those, and good thing you are asking about Underwood now since it’s slated for removal next spring

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That’s great, Jesse. Thanks! How do I go about sending you a message that isn’t public? I’m new to forums and want to make sure my private contact info doesn’t end up on the site.
Thanks for your quick reply!
Ben—from Columbus, Ohio.