Plum crazy

I could have finished my spray rounds on Sunday, but the rains came and I’m waiting for a window to finish the last four orchards I manage that need their final (I hope) insecticide application of the season.

If sanity was part of my personality structure, I would be using this break to get some much needed rest, but my seasonal COD (compulsive obsessive disorder) is in full swing, so I’ve been dressed up in my rain gear and out trying to finish up the thinning of my own orchard.

Hard to keep my hands working as the thermometer reads 49F and the trees are dripping wet. Pulling fruitlets off is also a bit awkward with the neoprene gloves I have to wear to keep from cramping.

Just as the trees came into bloom this season we went into a mini-drought, bringing about a month of continuous sun and warmth. This not only provided plenty of good days for the buzzers (our buzzem buddies) to do their work, but also provided the trees plenty of opportunity to gather energy and get their accounts into the plus column.

These two things have led to a massive set of fruit, which is very good and also very bad. As those of you fortunate enough to have your own mature orchards to tend know well, even on a year of average set, thinning is the most tedious job a fruit grower has to do.

The last two days I’ve been working on the plums. Most of the Japanese plums almost always have a heavy set here but Euros are not so reliable. This season all of the E.plums are positively loaded, including two big Valor trees, a Green Gage, an Oullins, an Empress, a Castleton (as usual) and a young Bluebird. Only my Autumn Sweet has little crop, probably because it is still too young.

Santa Rosa and Elephant Heart are two J. plums that tend to set lightly on my site but this year they too are loaded and require substantial thinning, although not as much as other varieties.

It is interesting how tiny the fruits of Satsuma still are. I can’t even be sure yet what is actually set and will wait another week to bother trying any more thinning on it, even though the branches look like continuous clusters of tiny grapes.

The young Bluebird trees in my nursery are also loaded, which indicates that this is a very precocious E. plum. I’ve yet to need to carve any black knot out of this one so I’m beginning to believe that Adam’s claim of BK resistance of this one is correct. The fruit is quite good so I will be ordering a lot of these for my nursery to use as base trees for multi or at least dual variety plums.

I did a lot of plum grafting this season starting with the J’s. After grafting them there was a week of warm weather but the grafting of the E’s had the opposite. It seems as though grafts of both species are taking equally well so success may hinge more on the relative development of leaves than on specific temps following grafts. But then, I guess it is just as likely that Euros thrive in cooler temps. However, I grafted peaches with the E plums, and they also appear to be taking well.

One other thing, the only apple in my orchard not to set well is Ashmead’s Kernel, although its current meager crop is the most it has set in years. I’m not convinced that this is entirely the fault of the variety, I know of one wild crab tree that I grafted over to AK for a customer that seems to be very productive. I also grafted it onto a different tree on my site and the two year wood has a decent crop on it. The problem tree is, for some reason, overly vigorous, even though it is supposedly M7 rootstock.

And so forth…

Back to thinning.

I hear you on the thinning. We are still not quite done, and climate wise we are probably a month ahead of you. We are going through the peaches a second time to thin the shoots which were missed the first time. I still haven’t much thinned the plums in my backyard. Need to get that done.

One other note on thinning is that I am discovering pretty much all flat peaches (with the exception of Saturn) don’t really need much thinning at all. All peaches abort some fruit, but I’m figuring out flat peaches seem to abort a disproportionate amount and so are one of the last trees which should be thinned.

The Flat Wonderful tree in my backyard was loaded with blooms, but I’ve seen it abort a lot of fruit before, so I waited a long time before thinning and finally had to do a little bit of thinning but not much. This is the first year it has a full crop (I think the tree is something like 7 years old). I’m noticing the same thing on the NJ flat peaches. I thinned them too early and after they dropped the aborted fruit, they have thin crops. The heaviest tree only has about 100 peaches on it and those NJ trees are big enough to handle a minimum of 200 peaches.

I’ve got a list of peach trees to thin last because they either set very light crops, or abort a lot of fruit. All the flat peaches (except Saturn) are on that list.

Olpea, that doesn’t seem to apply with flat peaches in the east coast. They set way, way too much fruit here and are particularly time consuming to thin. I’ve been growing Saturn here for at least 15 years and its the worst of the bunch, year after year. I believe Scott has mentioned the same issue further south. I wonder what causes the difference.

Last year I decided to over thin TangO’s to see if I could duplicate the intense flavor of the first time I tasted it. It’s a relatively small peach so thinning it to 10" left lots of leaf per fruit. I can’t be sure it was the result of thinning because I didn’t leave a branch in the tree with a thicker crop, but the flavor was back last season.

I was hoping it would be a good freezing peach but it failed to hold its texture as I’d hoped and wasn’t nearly as good as frozen nectarines.

I was looking for some more information what another member posted about the Queen Garnet Plum in another thread and this is one of the videos that played automatically.It sounds like they were too busy to thin some trees and shows what can happen and even apologizes at one point. Brady
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I’ve noticed that with Saturn, TangOS many of the fruit will just fail to grow and you can just flick them off. I keep everything that looks like its going to make it.

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My Tangos also needed heavy thinning. I didn’t thin it enough for several years and got lots of small peaches.

Alan, the Satsuma thinning is a lot later than my other J plums. I just wait a week or two on it, it will drop a good number in that period.

This year I got a pretty reasonable set on my Santa Rosa. Its not a full load but its 2/3 of the way there which is more than I had last year. Flavor Supreme I have 6 fruits on, 6x last years load of 1! I hand pollinated both this year. I don’t think it helped any, two years ago I got a similar load on both.

Scott, sorry to hear that FS is so shy. I was going to trial that one here next- maybe I’ll just graft a piece from you to trial it here. It must be putting plenty of energy into wood.

I’m trying to push stonefruit into fall as far as possible. Your white Heather (or is it Heather Clling) has certainly got me as far as I can go with peaches.


A little off topic here but,…

On this past Saturday I sprayed with Immunox, Captan, Imidan (on apples & pears) then added Triazicide to the tank and finished the peaches, apricots, plums & cherries). I used Nufilm-17 sticker.

It was sunny and breezy for at least 4-5 hours before any rain came. It rained overnight Saturday and on Sunday not crazy heavy. Now we are expecting rain through this coming weekend (30 - 50% chance on daily basis).

This coming Sunday looks somewhat dry, should I supplement any spraying.


I will not be respraying any of the sites I did proceeding this long rain period. I’ve never experienced the consequences from assuming everything is protected in spite of major rain. Commercial growers take into account the inches of rain and will calculate next spray schedule partially based on precip following last cover.

The Immunox is fast but the Imidan is at least half removed, probably as well as the Triazide. The Captan is probably nothing but a warm memory. I bet it’s still enough for the remaining Imidan to do the job at hand and have a lot experience indicating it will. But there are no guarantees in fruit growing.

If you hit it next weekend I’m sure things will be fine as Imidan has good kickback.

I’m done for the season for PC and CM control- which means, besides a single ap of Indar (Monterey Fungus Fighter is your closest equivalent) I’m probably done spraying most of my sites for the season.

Thanx Alan,

When do you expect to apply the Indar?


Mid July, except at sites with a history of brown rot on very early peaches.

I will be spraying a few sites through the season to achieve that beautiful look of pristine. Sometimes it is worth it just because it makes others more attracted to your surplus fruit.

For pristine, I begin protecting things from summer fungus about the first week of July (also early peach brownrot) and spray every couple of weeks through Aug. (4-5 more sprays).


I am excited because this is the first year that I have enough fruit to save.

And educated enough to be scared of what could be.


Yes, growing fruit is so much more exciting in the east coast than it ever was in S. CA. 10 days ago I was worried about drought, now I’m worried about too much water, hope we don’t get hail, or flocks of pecking birds, will the squirrels rebound??? etc, etc. etc.

And the drama builds as the balls grow.

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I enjoyed that video. The thing that stood out to me was the heavy crop load compared to leaf area. Not many leaves on those trees. I doubt the quality was all that good but they did seem to like the Gage types. My plum trees would have half or less that much fruit and twice as many leaves.

is that peach an in-ground or potting?


Tangos was excellent the second year…first year it was not that good. I almost tossed it.

For brown rot i am spraying calcium chloride on pluots, donut peaches, nectarines…

Dapple Dandy sets a ton of fruit for me… it needs heavy thinning.

Can any of you experienced folk share some pictures of what you deem to be proper fruit spacing/density post-thinning?

Let us know how that works. I bought some calcium (forget what kind) but forgot what I got it for. Getting old, its such fun. I will add it to my subsequent sprays this season so see if it helps with rots.

@alan, its White Heath Cling peach. I am sad I lost my super late one, Salwey. Its very flavorful and barely finishes ripening before frost comes.

This is all I could come up with for a plum/pluot tree full of fruit. My trees are too close together and too many leaves to take a good picture that shows anything. This is a higher ratio of fruit to leaves than what I usually leave for a plum. But it’s a small tree and well exposed to light so that helps offset the heavy crop load. Normally if wanting max eating quality I’d leave half this amount. When I look at the tree I want to see mostly leaves not fruit. But with an open structure so all parts of the tree are well exposed to light.

I think this is Dapple Dandy in a pot. Notice the strings to hold up the fruit. Another good guide is that you don’t have to support the crop. Unlike the plum trees in that video that were way overloaded IMO for both quality and tree support. But a well pruned tree can still be overloaded without breaking.

Sorry about the over sized pic.


Last year I had one. This year hundreds of flowers. Several types of bees. 10 fruit! A Dapple Dandy is 6 feet away but now I decided to graft a few Dapple branches onto the Flavor Supreme so the bees don’t have to fly so far :smile: No thinning so that’s nice.