European Plums: Empress vs Valor

Hey Everyone,
New to this forum. was put onto it by Alan Haigh, and I have been thoroughly enjoying it so far. Thought I would ask you all your opinion on European Plums. Alan has told me (and correct me if i’m wrong) that I should plant a Valor or a Empress for great taste and high brix.
was just curious what you guys thought? and which one should I plant?

I say plant both. :smiley:

Seriously, if you can I would plant both varieties, I did based on Alan’s recs. Mine are just now expected to fruit for the first time this year. Looking forward to give them a taste. So far, Alan’s not recommended a dud to me.


Let us know if you get any fruit from them.

I was privileged to try both when I toured Alan’s orchard last fall. I should have written down more about the comparison, because while I can remember that both were top notch, I don’t recall which was better. Empress was the best variety I’ve ever gotten from a farmer’s market (meaning they can be very good even without a grower as skilled as Alan) and I think Valor is Alan’s favorite. So, you really can’t go wrong with either. I agree with Olpea- get both! :slightly_smiling:

My Valor is still young and didn’t set any this spring. I’m looking forward to trying Vision, which did flower quite a bit. It is from the same breeding program as Valor and was released in the same year (1967).


I took a pic of each today. Here is Valor:

Here is Empress. At least it was labeled as Empress. I didn’t know Empress was an oval plum?

Valor seems to have gotten hit really hard by our frosts. I didn’t look the tree over very carefully, but at a glance today I just saw the one fruit. Most of the time if there are just a few fruits, something happens to them before you can harvest them (at least that’s what seems to happen w/ my trees). Looks like there are more Empress plums.

@Olpea and @BobVance, @alan, et al,
Reviving this thread because I’d like to hear from you what you think about Valor and Empress? I love to hear from others, too, who grow these two varieties.

I had both fruited last year. Both were very nice but Empress was a lot larger and later. Mark’s pic of Empress looked like mine.

This year, I have Valor but not Empress. I beileve both of the scion wood I got came from Bob.
( thank you, Bob)

Why do you keep believing you have Valor when I am quite sure Bob has fake Valor from ACN.

I bought my first Valor from Treetop nursery 25 years ago (another big commercial grower supplier back then) and then started buying them from ACN about 15 years ago. By the bundle.

About 6 years ago I started getting “Valors” from ACN that bear fruit that is much smaller and ripens much earlier than the Valor I’ve been growing for years and years. It’s a very high quality plum, though.

Get it?

It’s hard for me to know the difference between Valor and Empress- A lot depends on tree location. You will do a better job of evaluating it by grafting the two varieties on the same tree. I had Empress plums form a nursery tree this year that were the best plums I’ve tasted, but the ones from my orchard tree are inferior to my orchard tree Valors. I have my Valors located at two locations on my property and one has superior fruit to the other.

The best prune plums usually turn amber while still firm and get into the '20’s brix without being mushy. Autumn Crisp is an exception- it can be green fleshed and quite crisp but very sweet. However it’s not very productive for me at all- and rain as it starts to ripen makes it crack. Then the ants take over. But then, it isn’t in the best location and the Castleton next to it isn’t very productive either and it’s very productive most other places I grow it. Too much eastern shade.

I learn while I write. I’m going to graft some Autumn Sweet where I get sun first thing in the morning.


Both were good plums for me. But I ended up cutting down all my plums and replaced them with cherries this spring. So I am out of the plum busiiness.

The cherries sell much better and we don’t have to pick them :wink:


Just read Alan’s post about the fake Valor. I can’t remember if the Valors I got were from ACN or not. I know I got some plums from VanWell too.

My Valors ripened when they were supposed to, at least in relation to other known plums like Castleton and Long John. As I recall Valor ripened close to Long John for me. Castleton ripened much earlier than both.

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I don’t think Van Well ever carried Valor. I have often bought Empress from them. Empress seems to bear younger and more reliably and may be a few days later to start ripening but Valor ripens over a much longer period- good for me but bad for a commercial grower.

I actually have to feel each plum before picking it to harvest them truly tree ripe- unless I shake the tree and let them drop.


What would you suggest I call it, then? A fake Valor. Whatever it is, it tastes good,just ripening now.

My Castleton looks like Castleton but ripens about now, about the same time as Valor. Don’t know if microclimate plays a role in it. Even my Glenglo ripened 3 weeks after it should.

I’d like to hear from @BobVance, too as he is close by and has the fake Valor.

@Olpea, too bad, Euro plums do not do well in KS. What varieties of cherries you grow? You allow PYO for cherries only or other fruit, too?

Actually I wouldn’t want to discourage Euro plums here in KS/MO. They do fine for a backyard orchard.

I gave them up after a lot of years because they show every cosmetic blemish, even with a commercial spray program. They don’t yield much (commercially speaking). About a bushel at most. Peaches can produce 2 bushels in a decent year. If they are productive, they can produce 3 bushels or more. Then the plums are hard to sell. That makes for a very poor return on the labor for plums here. That’s why I gave them up.

If I had more time, I’d grow more plums again. One of the easiest to grow here, with a very good flavor was Rosy Gage. Abundant fruit, but like most plums, required intense spray.

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As you may know, I started selling fruit I have had in excess a couple of weeks ago. It is pretty words of mouth. Of several plum varieties (and peaches) I have my cumstomers tried, they all love mirabelles. They can’t have enough of these small sugar balls.

The tree is very productive. Fruit are not bruised easily. I harvested them by shaking the tree and collected dropped fruit. No bruises. The only downside is its small size. It has some black knot but not bad comparing to the other trees I have. It has no other issue in my yard.

They are also pretty. Do you think your customers would be interested in them?


Perhaps some. It would require giving lots of samples to get folks to try the. Most folks are very conservative about their food here. Donut peaches required a lot of free samples to create a following.

I once grew some yellow tomatoes. Almost nobody bought them. After some convincing to try them, one old man summed it up. “They taste just like a red tomato, but I’d still rather have red tomatoes.”


Damn, I was so sure of myself, but my hubris may be showing.

If it is ripening now and is bigger than Castleton and came from Bob, maybe ACN is sending out two separate plums under the name of Valor. If so, you must have the real one- your climate is not THAT much different than mine and fake Valor has been done for weeks.

That is very weird and makes me really wonder about ACN.

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I will take pics to show a comparison of Castleton and Valor.

Some Valor are the same size as Castleton, some are bigger. Castleton is somewhat oblong but this Valor is rounder.

I am not good at describing a specific shape or taste, for that matter.

That sounds like the fake. Valor is consistently oblong- never round- at least my Valors. Fake valor is the roundest prune-plum I grow by far. Shaped more like a gage.

I spent many minutes finding info on Valor plum. I feel that many websites just copy the description and the pic from one another. I am not confident that they are totally correct.

The Orangepippin description says it’s a late season, dark purple plum with yellow flesh and sweet flavour.

Fedco says a semi free stone, purple, blue plum with greenish/yellow flesh ripens in late Sept.

ACN says purple/blue skin, yellow flesh.

But every (same) pic on various nursery websites shows oblong, reddish plums. I have a hard time believing those are the pics of Valor.

Anyway, my Valor is purple/blue skin, round like an tangerine (rather flat top and bottom), not like a soccer ball. Sweet yellow flesh with very nice flavor.

Here are the pics of my Valor and Castleton.
Valor is on the left, Castleton on the right.
Valor is on top and Castleton is at the bottom.


Fake valor according to my eyes, but did they ripen with Castelton? Maybe you are that much later than me- Cas and FV have been done here for weeks.

Castleton is the same shape as true Valor but smaller and about 2 weeks earlier ripening.

I hope someone can show me the real Valor. So far, no one has.
My Valor tastes excellent, both last year and this year. They ripen about the same as Castleton but Castleton has started to ripen for the past couple of weeks. Castleton are pretty large this year.

As for ripening time. Everything in my orchard ripen late this year.