I think my best chance of success with plum is to grow it against the available west/southwest-facing fence in a fan; I have sturdy posts in place to string wires for growing support. In a fan shape I can cover it. I was contemplating Methley to begin for ease and self pollination… but as big (really big) of a problem as black knot is here I’m not sure its the best choice.
If I were to choose, say, Shiro/Satsuma/and maybe Castleton, Ozark or Spring Satin…who is the best base tree? Shiro for strong growth? Satsuma for more spreading scaffolds? I was assuming a J. plum would be a better base than a E, plum - is that right or off base? And any input on best rootstock? I read so much good about Krymsk1 but also about some graft snapping in plums.
NY’ers are everywhere on the forum, we have Queens, Brooklyn, Elmira, Lower Hudson Valley, a few east on the Island all accounted for.
I am also just starting out in Fruit Tree planting, I almost got a multi-graft asian pear and multi-Pluot, but everything I’ve read and been told has been to buy separate trees per/variety, assuming you have the space.
I love plums and pluots, I have a Santa Rosa and a Satsuma growing, with plans to purchase a Laroda and some pluots bare-root next season.
If you want a vigorous grower as a base tree, you might consider Beauty plum. I have it in Zone 6b on Citation and it grows like crazy here. Got the tree from Ison’s. I have Methley saddle-grafted onto it.
The local orchards here grow Methley and Shiro reliably. In good years, they also get Santa Rosa to crop well. I find the Methleys and Santa Rosas here to be delicious, but the Shiro have a funky taste I don’t like.
The combo plum I lost this spring to frost was Beauty-base on Citation: it’s own scaffold put out massive thick growth and was in full bloom when NY got that 29f late April freeze, and one by one each graft died to brown so out it went. If it lived I probably was going to have to ditch Beauty as fruiting wood altogether as it took over the tree in its short life span. The saddle graft idea harnesses its vigor though without the takeover. Nice.
So you enjoy Methley? I hear so many conflicting reports on Methley - it seems to be a love/hate sort of plum, maybe location specific? Alan has posted about black knot issues on Methley, and we have wild prunus virginiana everywhere here just bulging with black knot. I had to remove two of them from the yard last year as they succumbed. So that worries me. I like its reliability though. I’ve put it in and taken it out of my Cummins order about 67 times I think.
I have tried store Shiro but maybe I need to try a farmer’s market one to get the full profile. I like the store ones but this week I had a deep red-black, wine-notes fleshed plum (that I think was Burgundy) that was just fantastic. Beat just about everything I’ve had to date, ever, in any plum.
Thanks for the input Matt. Gives me something to ponder.
In my case, I’m running dratted short on space. That’s why for plum I was thinking reliable self pollinator OR a multi. The only way I can grow two separate trees is to give up my wish-list Sansa apple spot, and grow one of the two in a container (my remaining sun area now lies over the septic line: no roots allowed) nearby.
How’s your Satsuma doing? I know Scott loves that plum. I love pluots too, but question if I can get one enough sun and heat.
Regina, FWIW, I’ll second Matt’s fondness for Methley. I’m certainly no plum aficionado, but it has spectacular flavor to me, grows like crazy and aside from PC seems to be a super easy tree to grow productively.
Mine literally went from a stick to a 8 or 9" trunk in 4 years, none of my other fruit trees have ever put on growth even remotely close to that. Mine at least, does however have a terrible habit of making tons of vigorous vertical growth. I think this problem is probably related to it’s location and overly nitrogenous soil. I’ve seen other’s Methleys and they don’t seem to have this problem.
I think I’m going into my fifth year here at my place and it’s growth has slowed, but it’s already taller than the overhead lines nearby. If you decide to go with something else and would like some wood from it next spring, I can send you all you’d like.
Schlabach’s calls it a “must have” for every home orchard. Based on the little I know now, I’d have to agree. You’re exactly right about the conflicting reports on this forum, Rayrose doesn’t care for it either, and really I just cannot possibly begin to explain the lack of love here for this fruit. Different strokes I guess.
You cannot however eat these indoors unless you eat it over the sink…I’m serious. They are crazy juicy and super sweet with a tangy skin. It’s a nice combo…I like it a lot.
I have been growing Methely for 25 years. Here in S. NY it is a major black knot magnet, although I’m not sure if native cherries are part of the mix of trees on LI, which is a key host for the infectious fungus.
As far as flavor, it is below average for a J. plum as is Shiro, which is not to say it isn’t delicious when fully ripened after being zealously thinned, but thinning can be a PIA because it often sets its fruits in tight clusters up and down the branch work.
Shiro would be a better base tree, although I’d start with Satsuma just because it is a much better plum although its drooping branches and greater susceptibility to leaf spot and maybe other issues I haven’t identified could create problems, but if you grafted other varieties on it they wouldn’t be affected by that. Ruby Queen would also be a very good base tree and may even have resistance to black knot. It isn’t as sweet as Satsuma but I find it delicious as do most I’ve offered it to. It is my Elephant Heart replacement which is the world’s best flavored Jap plum when it is right but it has real issues here.
The only verified black knot resistant varieties I grow, besides an experimental, unreleased Cornell variety, are European, with Bluebyrd seeming to be that and, to a lesser degree, Italian.
In my nursery I am going to begin favoring Bluebyrd as a stock tree for multi-graft plums because it is a strong grower but also fairly early bearer for a Euro and from a small sample I’d say the fruit is delicious. Of course, all comments about flavor here are based primarily on my individual tastes.
Once you learn to do it at the right time, grafting plums is pretty easy on vigorously growing trees in good light. We could steer you through that, but you shouldn’t attempt it until your base tree has been growing for a season.
Much appreciated input Appleseed. I have a lot of considering to do, since I plan these things rather CDO (which is like OCD but better, since the letters are in the proper order). I have a feeling I may opt for a scaffold of Methley versus the whole tree to balance my BK risk - love the Methley early ripening, so the offer of wood is definitely something I will be in touch with you about once things get moving.
Ooo. Interesting. Bluebyrd is a plum I read about, but hadn’t considered at all because it just doesn’t get a lot of press. I did some more looking and that may be a fantastic base since it seems to resist BK and grows at a good pace, AND I like the sound of the plum itself. Beautiful thing is that Cummins carries it on Myro or Krymsk1, so I can add it to my current order. Maybe ideally I can come up with a half E/half J early season combo. I have so much late fruit already.
Thanks a ton, Alan. I think I now have a strong contender for my base tree in Bluebyrd which gets me started, and pondering the base tree has had me stalled for quite a while. I’ve been reading up on peach/plum grafting, and I think I will do some apple practice to get started before I graduate to plum in a year or two. I’ll be posting for advice then, y’all can be sure.
Putting this question out there - is larger or smaller rootstock better for a multi? I know I can control its size so I’m not worried about that, especially as a fan - so would one have advantage over the other? Krymsk1 is supposed to induce precocity and yields, but do multis need more relative vigor to overcome any potential graft scarring, and whatever microvascular changes that may (must?) occur at multiple graft sites?
I wondered about this particularly with plum since Scott mentioned graft breaks on Krymsk1.
I must have been groggy from previous night’s ale to suggest cedars have anything to do with black knot- cedars co-host cedar apple rust which has nothing to do with plums… I should have said native cherries. Hell, I just finished my nightly 12oz’s and the facts are straight in my mind now and I’ve just edited the previous post.
I have a plum here called Earli Magic that is just a couple days later than Methely and is much tastier to me (and Scott for that matter). It is a Santa Rosa type that bears more reliably than SR, and obviously earlier. I’d be happy to share some wood with you.
Supposedly you can graft Jap plums on E plums but the grafts don’t last if you graft E. on J’s. I don’t know if this is true but will in a couple more years based on experiments in my own orchard.
My Bluebyrd is on Myro (from ACN) and while it hasn’t been very vigorous, it is extremely precocious, as it has 4-5 plums in only year #2. Most of the Japanese plums put on a ton more growth.
Jam Session (another Euro planted at the same time) also put on quite a bit of growth, but it got a couple black knots. But, all my experience is with single trees, so if Alan has a bunch of vigorous Bluebyrds, it is probably a more likely outcome.
I do have several Bluebyrds in my nursery- all on Myro, and the growth is normal for an E. plum, that being not as vigorous as most J’s which are a nurserymen’s dream for a moneymaking tree (except for the BK issue).
An advantage of J. plums is that they don’t ever seem to suffer from aphids or leaf hoppers here, which may stop an E. plums growth by summer unless you spray for them. Some varieties are more susceptible than others, though. I actually think that this stunting can stop a tree from fruiting the following year. They haven’t been a problem on my orchard Bluebyrd yet, but it is a young tree. Still, that is a good sign.
I think if I go the Bluebyrd route I will get it on Myro too. Give it extra the juice versus K1. I like the precocity on yours Bob, and you are in my general neighborhood so that’s an indicator.
I have to consider my options. If I go with a BB base tree, I will be obligated to mix likely Stanley or President in for pollinator (wonder if Italian pollinates BB? prolly) if I want BB as a scaffold, and then I can try two J’s (maybe Satsuma, EarlyMagic, Methley and/or Shiro) and end up with a half n half tree. The other good base may be Shiro for power growth (or RQ, for some BK protection) in which case I am choosing all fast growing J’s but maybe raising my overall BK risk.
I will shortly be floating in the pool to consider this question. Heck, probably will be still considering it while putting up Halloween decorations.