My Methley Plum refuses set fruit

Hello. Just found this site, sounds useful.
So, I have a standard Methley J. plum that I planted as a bare root in 2014. Still no fruit. It started really slow but then took off in 2016 or 2017. It’s now pretty large and a near perfect open center chalice shape from yearly pruning. It didn’t flower until 2018 with just a few flowers. In 2019 it had a lot of flowers with not a single hint of fruit. This year it is loaded (right now 4/15). As an experiment this year, I bought a Satsuma tree that already had flowers on it and placed it right next to the Methley in the pot. It shouldn’t need the pollinator though, just figured I would try before I decide to cut it down and replace with something that produces.

I’m in zone 6A. Recent low was about 30F. I even looked up last April temps and there was nothing under 29F after the first week of April so I don’t think temperature is the issue (it’s in full sun). I fertilize with Epsoma TreeTone the last couple years along with all my other trees. Belle of Georgia and 4x Asian pear produce well in the same garden area. I have apples that haven’t flowered yet but they are healthy and on their way.

I don’t think it’s weather, shouldn’t need pollinator, flowers just fine, what else could be happening here? Any chance it flowers too early for bees (do self-fertile even need bees)?


I’ve got one older than yours (by 4-5 years) that has put out fruit the last 3 years, but never brings anything anywhere near ripe. They usually fall off well before quarter size.

I’m grafting it over to other plums slowly. Its got Toka on it already.


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Your tree has progressed normally. It started flowering in year 4 and fully flowered in year 5. Even self fertile fruit trees benefit from cross pollination.

Poor pollination can be a result of frequent rain during bloom time and/or cold weather which prevents pollinators from flying and their jobs.

I think you are smart to increase your chance by having another J plum. Some J plums varieties are better pollination partners than the others. I hope Satsuma and Methley will be a good cross pollination match for you.


What root stock your methley is on?

Unfortunately I have no idea. I got excited when I moved to a larger property in 2014 and bought my first round of trees with very little knowledge (bare root online purchase). I only had so much land cleared so now it’s not in the best spot as you can see my garden has been built around it.

What you’re describing is typical (in my experience) for Methley on myro. I planted my last Methley in 2011 and it didn’t bear well until 2017-2018. Since then it’s been a regular cropper.

Good to know, thanks for the hope.

That probably explains why the Sierra Plum on Myrobalan,that I planted in 2016,hasn’t fruited yet.Maybe next

Methely tends to be fairly precocious and producing fruit by the 3rd or 4th year, but I’ve planted it at sites where it took much longer. Eventually it plugs in and you will probably regret its tendency to set much too much fruit that would shame a grape vine. Before thinning such trees you just knock most of it off with your hand- at least the low hanging fruit.

The good thing about grafting other varieties on it is not only to enhance pollination but to get a variety of plums that bear at different times. Once the tree is in full production it makes more fruit than most have use for and there are many varieties that most people prefer in taste- although when adequately thinned it can be quite good, especially for being so early.

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My Methley took 3-4 years to really get going but its a beast now. Unfortunately it is also a black knot beast and I’ve had to cut a lot of it out. I have several other varieties grafted to mine including Shiro, Toka, Robada Apricot, Flavor Supreme, and Stanley Plum.

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Mine had black knot a couple years back I decided I was going to try and treat a bit of it, so I chose an infection that was about 4 inches long on a main scaffold. I pruned out 3-4 other strikes in the tree. I scraped the knot as deeply as I could and treated it with fungicide and neem oil and then wrapped it with parafilm. It doesn’t look pretty, but its definitely has not spread and doesn’t look like black knot anymore (and its been 3 years). parafilm lasted about 6 months.

I wouldn’t do it on smaller branches, but for strikes on the main trunk (like this one was) its an option.


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Thanks for all the helpful and rapid responses. Appreciated.

I will definitely try some grafting next year, looks much easier than I thought on youtube…

My Methley tree is three years old and had about fourty blossoms this year. It’s to soon to say if any will set fruit. Last year it had many flowers but no fruit. Im hoping for the best. In addition to my Methley, my green gage is looking good with many blossoms about to flower.

I have a similar problem with my Italian prune. It sets fruit but they never ripen, they just fall off in mid June. Is this a pollination issue?

There are quite a few plums that are labeled Green Gage. My Green Gage was grafted 5-6 years ago. It flowered and set one fruit in 2018 and another one last year (if I recall correctly). The fruit looked like a Green Gage plum.

The graft has grown vigorously. After these many years and almost no production, I pruned most of it off leaving two small brances. It looks like there are a few flowers on one branch. I hope it will set more than one fruit this year.

No fruit is worth keeping with that stinginess. I hope your Green Gage is a lot more productive than mine.

Now for the next question: What do you spray plum trees with? I use dormant oil on everything and Bonide fruit tree spray on most trees after petal drop and about a month after. Works for peaches. Not listed for plums or pears though. Therefore, the only thing I put on my plum is Captain Jack Deadbug if there is an issue with beetles/caterpillars.

Where are you in zone 6. Location can indicate how much pest pressure you have.

Also, how have have your trees fruited? The first couple of years, most people get good fruit. It goes down hill when pests find your trees and diseases start to build up.

East central Mass.

Trees: 3 apples, one peach, one 4x asian pear, two plum, one cherry and one fruit salad. The peach has been fruiting for ~4yrs, asian pear ~2yr, cherries fruit and feed birds, fruit salad second season and loaded with flowers. Haven’t had issue with peaches with two apps of the fruit tree spray. Asian pears do well with no spray but the deer took a liking to fruit last year (assumed deer as I lost a dozen pears in a day).

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I am in Worcester County, central MA . Where is east central MA? Framingham?

I am impressed that after 4 years, you still have not problem with pests or brown rit on peaches. The Bonide spray you use is a combo of fungicide and pesticide. Often, such combo is not as strong as using each individual chemical at full strength.

However, you are getting a good result.

I don’t have such luck. The first two years, my peaches were perfect with little chemical spray. By year 3, OFM, PC and Coddling moths sound my fruit. By year 5, all my peaches got brown rot despite spraying them with myclobutanil.

I am using less chemicals by choice so I will not getting perfect fruit. I mainly use Surround spray and bagging.

Update: my tree is loaded with tiny fruits! Several of you were correct that this was normal behavior for the tree. I doubt it was the pollenator that I put next to it but will graft a couple branches next year to be safe in case it was.