I’ve grown up with Japanese plums, particularly Santa Rosa. They grow well here and are totally delicious. But now that I’m a home orchardist, my attention is turning to Euro plums and their ilk, since these are an unknown for me, for the most part. I’ve had Seneca and a few others from farmer’s markets, but this really is sort of a mystery to me.
I did plant a Reine des Mirabelles and Pearl last year (i might get a Mirabelles or 2 this year, but no Pearl). I was planning on doing a multi-graft tree this summer and I was wondering which varieties you would recommend. I was looking at some older posts and it seems Empress and Valor are a good place to start. Also, since I’m so close to the beginnings of the American prune industry, the Imperial Epineuse, d’Agen, Sugar, and d’Ente would be logical choices. The Reine Claude Dorée is appealing, too.
I’m looking at out of hand eating (of course) but dried, too, and maybe preserves.
So what are you favorites? What has grown well for you? Which rootstocks do you prefer for them? My order from Raintree of Marianna and St. Julian are coming tomorrow and I’m trying to plan ahead.
Hi! The Euro plums I grow are Italian prune plum, good for eating fresh and makes a great tart! It is not the best for jam. I put my money on Damson for Jam! Mirabelle de Nancy for eating fresh as well. Tiny but very sweet with sweet skin. Mirabelle de Metz makes the best golden colored jam I have ever seen or eaten! Its beautiful and delish! My Reine Claude de Bavay is the sweetest plum I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. It is a treat. All of these trees took at least seven years to start producing. Worth the wait!
Early Laxton has only given us a couple fruits but they were tasty. Reading Mrs.G above I feel pretty fortunate for that since last year was only the second leaf here. We have two Green Gage, different vendors and slightly different trees. We got fruit from one of them last year and the year before now that I think about it. They were pretty good. We also have an old Italian style, maybe Stanley. They aren’t the greatest, though they dry nice and I would second the vote for cakes and tarts. For jam we use a seedling American (Potawatomi, Chickasaw) since I haven’t planted Damson though I’ve always enjoyed it store bought. All of them have been healthy enough but the leafhoppers really seem to enjoy the Gage’s and aphids are fond of them too.
My dad has an Italian plum and it has never been vigorous or productive, but he gets just enough to make his German plum cake year after year, and year after year, he’s the only one who likes it. He planted a Green Gage but gave up too soon and dug it up.
I’ve never tried the American plums, but I keep seeing the name Chickasaw come up and it seems like there are rabid fans of them.
It’s good to know what pests like them, I’ll have to ask my local chapter of CRFG what they’ve had luck with here in the Bay Area.
I’m curious to try Damson, but a nice golden jam sounds pretty good, too. I’m wondering if maybe grafting would cut down the wait time on things like the Reine Claude de Bavay. 7 years is a long wait…
I also have only Japanese right now. Seneca is a Euro that I’ve always wanted to try growing. I’d rank them as the best plums I’ve tasted. And from reviews it seems reliable. I’d also like to try Green Gage and Coe’s Golden Gage.
Some others I’d like to try are:
Jefferson (supposed to be like green gage but easier to grow)
Bavay’s Green Gage, Parfum de Septembre (“PdS”) Mirabelle, and Coe’s Golden Drop all have been vigorous growers for me, and generally disease-free. I put all three in the ground the same year as a Santa Rosa; the Bavay and PdS fruited the same year as the Santa Rosa, and the Coe’s the following year. Bavay is the best-tasting; PdS does call out for being made into jam. Coe’s is not as strongly flavored as Bavay, but is a unique fruit of memorable sweetness.
I also have a ‘Reine des Mirabelles’ and a ‘Pearl’ (that have not fruited yet); my Pearl has been a very weak grower.
You can pick up Damsons at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market in the late summer/early fall.
If you’re interested in French 707, I may end up with some extra wood; PM me if so.
EDIT: Out of curiosity, I looked at The Anatomy of Dessert to see what Bunyard listed. The only real surprise was Golden Esperen (syn. Drap d’Or).
I have had rot problems on all Euros so I am tending toward later ones which rot less, but thats not an issue for you fortunately. I thought Coe’s Golden Drop was pretty awesome, very sweet and rich. All the gage plums I have tried have also been excellent (Bavays, Golden Transparent, Reine des Mirabelles which tastes like a Gage to me). Agen is also a very nice plum if you let it ripen fully on the tree.
Its like your reading my mind. I bought one of the Raintree 4:1 euro combos with ROSY GAGE, EARLY LAXTON,ITALIAN, STANLEY ,SENECA. I also have 2 St Julian A root stocks coming in the mail. I have yet to think about the actual grafting part. It is too late in the year to graft scions and I don’t have any yet anyway. Bud grafting should work but still no source wood. I just plan to nurse the rootstock this first year and get ready for next.
I haven’t sampled many from my own trees yet, but from other’s (locally grown), Valor and Empress are among the best fruits I’ve had. I actually found some labeled “President” at a grocery store, which were in the same category, though I’m not sure where they were grown. For an early plum, Castleton is pretty good, though not at the same level as the first 3. Italian has been OK, not great, from the farmer’s market. Stanley (also from FM) is mostly sub-par, but was surprisingly good last year. I suspect that the same late frost that affected me, thinned the farmer’s crop for him, letting what was left sweeten more than normal.
I’ve been planting a lot of Euro plums. Hopefully I’ll get more of a sample this year. The first 6 below have been in ground for 4 years now, while the last 8 were just planted last spring.
Jam Session (NY 111)
Mirabelle, Geneva, NY 858
Rein Claude de Juillet
Bavays Green Gage
Mirabelle de September
Golden Transparent Gage
Count Althan’s Gage
Reine de Mirabelle
Mirabelle de Metz
Late Transparent Gage
For some reports from zone 3 / 4 Canada. Not ONLY Euro plums but you can ignore the ones that don’t interest you.
It has gotten huge with tons of posts and photos so I summarized it as of march 7, 2017.
Hail damage made them not ripen properly I think but for what I tasted, concluded that I think Mt. Royal is still a better plum.
Here is a Opal info: Opal European Plum Midsummer. Wisconsin plum breeder Brian Smith noted that Opal is the hardiest European plum available. Bob Purvis reported it to be hardy to about –33°. Some years ago we sent 25 trees up to Alaska. Kevin Irvin, then vice president of the Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association, arranged the order. He wrote to me, “This plum is hardy in Anchorage, AK, and ripens dependably every year.” One of the first Europeans to fruit in the season. Good quality, reddish-purple, medium-sized, round, semi-freestone. Firm yellow flesh. Medium-sized vigorous tree. Excellent cropper. Prunus domestica ZOullins x Early Favorite. Alnarp, Sweden, 1948. 3. ME Grown. (3-6’ bare-root trees). August? (Konrad – z3/4)
Here in Fairbanks that made last winter (which was really a non-winter by our standards), so we’ll see how it goes. (squarepegman z2/3)
great for pies & processing, [better storing too] not like most others like Pembina/Supreme too soft watery/runny! proves to be the best as cold hardy plum, I believe it’s a zone 2, with minus 7 degree this spring after flowering it still has hanging fruits, one of the best processing plums, firm, not soggy and semi freestone, the only drawback…a late ripening plum, some years it doesn’t quite make it, a unique weeping plum and tree keeps very low to the ground. champ of a plum when it comes to processing as a Asian Hybrid, totally freestone, not mushy. . ese are the only one’s I know of in the Asian hybrids which get better the longer they stay on, still firm and skin not very bitter, can eat them whole. Early to mid September. (Konrad – z3/4)
(or Supreme) is still most reliable. Mount Royalis a better tasting plum. prone to split (Konrad – z3/4)
is similar to Supreme but cracks easy I found…got rid of my Pembina, flesh is sweet juicy (Konrad – z3/4)
Petite Sour de la Mont Royal
I am very happy with my Petite Sour de la Mont Royal also. It has been through 4 winters now with no dieback at all, even being in a less than ideal location with some north wind exposure and in a low place. It does have good prevailing west wind protection though. I agree with Konrad that it may be the hardiest European type plum. (katie77q)
Is a offspring of Mt. Royal from Hardy nursery in Quebec…and yes, possible hardier then Mt. Royal. tasted very similar to Mt. Royal. Late august early September. (Konrad – z3/4)
aphid magnets (Mattpf – z4)
just horrible in pollination, you’ll get the odd fruits at times but never loaded in my experience. (Konrad – z3/4)
Prunus Nigra B
B I added on because it was taken by Bernie near Winnipeg along the river growing wild and probably not diluted with other species. Best pollinator. (Konrad – z3/4)
they fall down easily, pick most of them when they do and ripen in the house for about 3- 4 days…they don’t get soggy like most Asian plum/hybrid get, nice firm aromatic and free stone, a must have for tough growing condition! they seem to taste better after a couple of days in the house…the flavor! They don’t spoil easy like most other plums. Ptitsin is a good pollinator…the #5 which I have is one of the better ones, fragrant plum, free stone and stays firm many day’s. The only problem is, they fall off very easily, then I usually pick most and after about 2 or 3 days in the house they’re nice to eat. (Konrad – z3/4)
Ripeing early august 2016 (Mattpf – z4)
Sapalta cherry plum seedling 07-01
set some fruit even at around minus 7C at the orchard. This one is really sweet and I love the marbled flesh, anybody wants it I can give out bud wood but comes with a warning from the breeder…doesn’t pollinate easily and short shelf life, eat right off the tree it is very nice with 15 brix, Thean had 17 brix this year in the City. One huge plus…it’s’ free stone! I can eat the whole plum with skin when this sweet. Early august. I let a couple of Sapalta 07-01 ripen longer and just picked…was reading a whooping 19 brix! Early-mid august. prone to split (Konrad – z3/4)
prunus domestica from Finland seems to be hardier then Mt. Royal…will have allot more plums to pick then Mt. Royal in town, smaller but good. is similar to the blue Damson. a little smaller then Mt. Royal but hardier it seems and spring frost resistant, had no Mt. Royal on a separate tree right beside, good alternative to Mt. Royal I think for tougher growing condition…not as sweet but not bad either. Also Good for pies…semi freestone, 14 brix, about 2 weeks earlier then Mt. Royal. Mid august. (Konrad – z3/4)
starting to drop, not bad…about a average plum…showed 12 brix, cling stone. Early-mid august. (Konrad – z3/4)
Sprouts sunshine plum
Clingstone. You have to keep them a while for them to get softer, then they are fairly good and more juicy! 14brix . Early-mid august. (Konrad – z3/4)
Russian. put on more than six feet of growth. They have terminal buds now; maybe they’ll survive. (Konrad – z3/4)
(or Pembina) is still most reliable. year it does split also…I really don’t like it too much, [by the time you pick it and bring to the house she’s runny/soggy!!] This Supreme picked today and given away to neighbors …wife was saying, graft ALL Asian plums over to European prune plum…actually, one branch I put on already this spring, this branch will be cut off next spring. Mid August. (Konrad – z3/4)
what I tasted was very High quality. trust me you want waneta over toka. aphid magnets. probably are the best tasting I have. pretty good tasting plum it’s semi freestone and crunch makes it something I’m not really used to. they lasted about a week on the counter . Toka is the best tasting plum out of all I have here the taste is extreme flavour . I did my last pick of toka yesterday. Fruit are like big cherries and can be picked before they are soft and get better a few days sitting out. I’ve heard some people saying bad things about this plum on this forum . It’s one of the best tasting fruits .size and productivity might be an issue. Seems to be a super fast growing tree and a super long bloomer . One problem I had with them is they fall very premature and Calgary winds knocked off a lot so might be worth setting up something to catch fruit and prevent damage from hitting ground.
Mid august to early September. (Mattpf – z4)
Has intense nice flavour but I was disappointed with the small fruit, guess we don’t mind so much when compensated by taste. got a nice crunch to it, very solid, for some reason this year with taste, I wasn’t dancing up and down lol. I think too much rain made them different, last year it was better. Early to mid September. (Konrad – z3/4)
is very hardy mine did so well I planted a second last year and grafted tons to everything because it’s so productive and a tad bit later than the rest. It’s rated one of the best will produce year after planting. It’s amazing. trust me you want waneta over toka. it amazes me. It grows more fruit than it does new branches only one year after planting and the tree it self is beautiful the fruit are big high quality fast yielding trees. Here in Calgary they grow like a charm. aphid magnets . clingstone good for fresh eating Mid august to mid september. (Mattpf – z4)
so far it’s a terrible aphid magnet. I pulled out all my Underwood, Lacresant, and Wanetas this fall as they were taking up space I could use for better fruit (Konrad – z3/4)
I pulled out all my Underwood, Lacresant, and Wanetas this fall as they were taking up space I could use for better fruit average or below, cling stone …didn’t do a reading but was pretty spicy, not enough sugar, need a couple more years before I make a decision if I’ll be swinging the ax lol. Mid August. (Konrad – z3/4)
seems Asian hybrid, originated in Quebec, cling stone, fair tasting but this could be the wet season. [no splitting!] Early September. (Konrad – z3/4)
i used copper spray in winter and fall I probably will spray again in spring as we had a very wet last summer. It helps with black not and bacterial issues caused by moisture. I do use horticulture oils for aphids but realized water from the hose If properly done is just as effective or more because it doesn’t kill the good bugs. I will definitely use a dormant oil this spring after I spray copper. We had an aphid epidemic here last year this will help I hope . Besides that nothing special. Biggest challenge in southern Alberta is winds. You put a lot of effort into babying the trees onlybto come home to all your plums bruised on the ground. I used seven last year with horrific results. One week later the yard was covered in dead earthworms. I sprayed trees and rain washed it off few days later . After that the aphids got even worse about a month later. (Mattpf – z4)
So far I didn’t have to spray anything except last year for aphid problems on some young trees with rapid growth spurt… have used sevin, little soap and horticultural oil. (Konrad – z3/4)
Hello, I have Jefferson gage, and have been disappointed in its flavor, bland when compared even to Oullins. I am thinking of grafting over it. Rosey gage, Cambridge gage and Imperial Epinose are much better.
Eric where did you source your Jefferson from? Botner had the wrong variety and I think many people got it ultimately from him. I waited ten years to get the bland version and am starting over with hopefully the correct Jefferson.
Hello, I got it from Trees of Antiquity in the spring of 2011. It is a small tree, good sized yellowish fruit which ripens over a long period. It’s been fruiting for several years now, I am glad I did not have to wait 10yrs.
I’ve tried a bunch of gages, starting with a “generic” green gage, tasted good, but low productivity and brown rot magnet. The Bavays were good, but every fruitv seems to get the rot so I pulled them out. Oullins is a great producer of large clean fruit which is good but not the best. My current favorites are Cambridge Gage, a small green fruit (green as really green, some of my customers thought they were not ripe until I made them try one) which is really very good, and fruited last year when most of the rest got frosted out, Imperial Epineuse (from GRIN) a very sweet aromatic green/purple fruit very vigorous and productive, also fruited last year, Rosey Gage, which did not fruit last year along with the rest of my gages.
Early Laxtons are OK, the biggest advantage is they are very early and quite pretty, yellow with red/pink spots, but they are just a sweet small prune which light to moderate productivity and are sensitive to canker so they don’t last that long.
The best mirabelle I grow is American mirabelle (GRIN), larger then nancy or de metz or 858, very productive and have a gage like flavor, and very early for a mirabelle.
I do a lot of green tip grafting in the summer, whip and tongue for larger branches or t bud like for smaller ones. I am in Vermont so it is not that hot and I fully encase the scion in parafilm to prevent it from drying out. If you leave a bit of the terminal leaves, they will leaf out and grow, otherwise they stay dormant like a t-bud. I’ve gotten couple feet of growth on green tip grafts in the summer they were grafted.