Plums 2015

Here is my plum report for 2015. This was a real test year for rot, there was ridiculous rain heat and humidity in June/July which set things up for a really bad rot year. These are more or less listed in ripening order.

Early Blush - A very good way to start off the plum season, with a classic plummy-tasting plum. Unfortunately it badly rotted this year in the rainfest. Most seasons its only average for rot but it had some bad weather this year.
Spring Satin - Make sure to wait until they are soft on top, that is a clear marker of ripeness. They are almost black in color at that point. They are quite a bit too sour if picked before then. They don’t last long when allowed to ripen, at least this year given all the rains thats what happened. Very little rot given how much rain we have been having, one of the very best fruits for rot. Bad curculio as usual, I’m not sure why its such a popular tree as I covered it very thoroughly this spring.
Beauty - This plum is very similar to Santa Rosa, it appears to be “early Santa Rosa” - coming in a bit earlier. Fierce rot on it though - seems headed for removal. I also did not get one with a really good taste, all were too mild/watery. In their favor it was raining like crazy during ripening.
Flavor Supreme - One or two excellent ones as usual. Relatively good with rot for a pluot. I hand pollinated it twice this year and that didn’t help.
Shiro - Had bad rot this year, out of the ordinary. Got few in the end, first time in a long time I didn’t have far too many of them.
Santa Rosa - Very bad rot year, got few from the usual low fruit set. Not really worth the room. Hand pollination this year did not help.
Weeping Santa Rosa - Was out of town during main ripening, but got a few AMAZING plums. Maybe I should rework the Santa Rosa in front with this. It also seems to set better than SR, and I had less rot on it.
Elephant Heart - had a bit of a set but all rotted. Not sure its worth keeping, especially in the spot it is in.
Purple Heart - These are coming in more the same time as Satsuma this year, a touch earlier. They are overall larger but not quite as sweet; Satsuma is the better plum but this helps spread out the harvest.
Lavinia - excellent unique papaya/caramel taste when fully ripe. Very little rot. This is a superb plum for home growers. Need to let them get really dark, I have been picking too early. They don’t always turn the same color when ripe, feel the tops for softness as the best indication. They are much better when fully ripened as opposed to partly ripened.
Satsuma - Best plum overall yet again. Very productive, super tasty, very long picking window, and not as bad as most for rot.
Sweet Treat Pluerry - No fruit in the end, low set and the last few rotted. Factoring in the psycho level of knot, this guy is GONE - I removed nearly all of the tree (will keep a limb just to make sure I was right on removing).
Superior - I have very little of this plum due to problems I had in the past, its only one low limb. Some years it got very soft but was still very sour and not sweet. But this year they are excellent like I remember them. I did lose many to cracking. I’m not sure its the best plum for my climate but it really packs a great flavor as well as tons of juice - similar to Santa Rosa in many ways. I should give this guy a better spot to give it another go.
Laroda - these are very late in ripening, not ripe yet. Was fantastic last year, the best Santa Rosa type even though they are bit smaller. Need to pick by softness on top, not color - they color up well before they ripen.
Mariposa - Also not ripe. Low set has been a problem on this guy.

Euros

Nearly all the Euro plums are faring poorly, I have continued to lose them bit by bit over the summer due to either rot or bug infestation. Long term it is looking more like the Euros just are not worth growing for me, other than a few of the most highly rot-resistant ones. I also need to get them more open since I am noticing a strong correlation between degree of shade and rot. I lost many to curculio this year, even though I was more diligent on the Surround compared to my usual year. Euros seem to be the most interesting fruits to the curculio.

Mirabelle de Metz - Rotting badly, I only got a couple. They were OK but not sour enough for fresh eating - mainly for cooking. They have some good dark/tanic type flavors in the background which will make for nice jam. But, given the rot problems I think its about time this guy said bye-bye.
Bavay’s Green Gage - Very tasty small yellow-green plum, smaller than the other gages (at least this year). Much less rot than other gages; tree is not vigorous at all and the lack of shading could be helping a lot there. Its also relatively in the open since I removed the tree next to it.
Reine Claude de Moissac - Had a few, one tasted OK but stringy. The rest rotted. Doesn’t seem worth keeping.
Coe’s Golden Drop - Very few fruits and all rotted.
Pearl - One partly rotted one was very good, the rest rotted.
French Prune - Excellent sweet taste but nearly all rotted this year. This and other prune plums had problems with Curculio biting right by the necks.
Purple Gage - first set of a few fruits but all rotted.
Green Gage - OK set but all rotted.
Golden Transparent Gage - Much better on the rot compared to all but Bavay’s and Middleburg. It ripens very late, mid-September for me, and the tree is not overly vigorous. The fruits are really excellent, rich and sweet and as good as any Gage plum I have tried.
Middleburg - My most reliable Euro plum, it ripens very late like GTG and that gives it a big leg up on the rot. It also is a relatively open tree and doesn’t suffer from too much vigor.
Reine des Mirabelles and Imperial also all rotted.

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Thanks, Scott, for the very detailed report. This is sure to help folks, especially those on the east coast or in more humid climates with summer rains. Well done. Did you pick up a Nadia? I will be interested to see how this fares, especially since the Sweet Treat has hit the compost bin for you. And, I see Satsuma is still outstanding. It also is here out west. Great, and often overlooked plum since it’s been around for so long.

Since I only have Euro’s my Italian Prune Plum is fine and right on Sched. Caught up with the curcs this year and got them!. My Reine Claude de Bavay is still hard, but I like the fact that the birds leave it alone since it is green and like yours not large. My Mirabelle de Metz if just fine. No rot. Only two dropped the entire summer. They will be ripe next week. Thanks so much Scott as your guidelines are excellent. Sorry about your ‘mega’ rot problem this year.

Scott,
Thank you for a great report (thanks for the peach report, too). Sorry to hear about that much rot on the Euro.

The Lavinia scions you gave me took so I am excited. I wish I put them higher on the tree (Shiro).

This will be first year my Satsuma has fruited, only sparsely. The plums are small, the same size as Shiro. Some are even smaller than my large Shiro. I thought Satsuma plums are supposed to be larger than Shiro’s.

Satsuma is smaller than Shiro - if you thin well it can be Shiro sized but it is smaller if not heavily thinned. I usually do a medium thinning so most fruits are smaller than Shiro.

Thanks, Scott. Somehow I had it in my head they were bigger. Now I feel better. This year, I did not need thinning. There are 15-20 fruit on the whole tree. It’s fruited one year after Shiro, although both were planted the same year.

Scott,

Terrific report, as usual. Be sure to update us on how your late plums perform.

Good to hear that Bavay is holding up. I have high hopes for that one.

Scott, this is really helpful. I’m interested in the Lavinia you mentioned. For the record, my Spring Satin here in the Washington DC suburbs was totally lost to rot. The Satsuma next to it did much better, though I knocked off rotted plums as I saw them. It also ripens later, and SS ripened in the midst of heavy rainfall. Imperial Epineuse lost to rot and bird attack (mainly the latter). Stanley Prune plum attacked by rot, but still quite a lot left on a fairly large tree. Interestingly, I have found little curculio damage to plums, Euro or Asian. They love the early apples though (esp. Williams Pride), and I do spray insecticide once after petal drop, which seems to control them ok. I’ve also noticed relatively little interest by Oriental Fruit Moth on the plums, though they love nectarines. Lost all peaches and nectarines this year to rot, insect attack and squirrels. Thinking of taking them out and putting something else in.

Hi Neal, our weather was pretty horrible around Spring Satin time. That variety also takes several years to get going, the tree doesn’t feed the fruits well for a couple years. Ill-fed fruits are more prone to rot. So, I would expect this year will not be the normal one for you with SS.

Too bad about the rot but remember next year it might be a drought! Looking forward to trying Lavina and Spring Satin…both have put on a lot of growth. Too bad that Flavor Supreme didn’t set more fruit…i really like that one. I may have to buy a tree of just that so i have more of them. Also might have to tray a weeping SR plum…i know you’ve talk about that for many years now being a good one.

Thanks for the report.

As always, I appreciate your reports, Scott. I feel for you on the rot front- this has been a tough year here as well. We are into midseason for plums, and it has started to rain more often… Never fun discarding all that potential.

Hi Scott,

I think my Spring Satin is in its third year, so it’s still fairly young and did not set a large crop. I did get a couple last year, and they tasted great. I look forward to when it really gets going. I’ve planted it right next to the Satsuma (about a foot away) to slow the growth of both, and this might be slowing it down in the production of fruit.

Neil

Did it keep raining there Scott, or is all the rot due to the early conditions? I’ve only had rot problems on sites where I inadequately thinned or didn’t thin at all. This season really didn’t allow touching fruit to ripen before rot set in. My main rot problem on my site was the first round nectarines- at least Eastern Glo and one variety of early peach (Summer Serenade). A couple weeks after the frequent rain became infrequent thinned fruit started ripening normally.

What happened to your Early Magic? Mine had more bacterial spot than any other plum (it is also more shaded from the east) but half its fruit was fine and only a quarter useless because of that. Birds were the main issue, although I got more than I could eat or distribute. Birds took about half.

Sorry about your plum rot- I get that a lot in my peaches, but so far I haven’t had any with plums (as soon as I’ve said this, they’ll probably rot overnight…).

Satsuma- These were very good in the first year I’ve harvested them. I’m not sure any got fully ripe, but they were still tasty with 15-17 brix and mostly dark flesh.

Superior- I under thinned them this year and while they still have their distinctive flavor and lots of juice, the sugar isn’t there. 11-13 brix, while last year was 16-18.

Bubblegum (Toka)- I think people will either love these or hate them. I’ve had several people comment that they have a strange artificial flavor to them (the bubblegum, I assume). When fully ripe (16-17 brix) they can have a nice strong smell that hits you when you cut in.

Laroda- From Scotts post, I think I picked mine too early. They had nice size and have colored up, but are very tart (even with 17 brix) when eaten straight. If left several days on the counter they are pretty good. My tree is huge, so hopefully I’ll have plenty to experiment on next year (only 6-7 this year)

Lavinia- Is also a huge tree, right next to Laroda. Both were planted last year and look like Giants in a playground. No set yet, but it did flower a bit this spring, so I’m hopeful for next year.

Castleton & Bluebyrd- One plum each for me (wildlife got at least one or two as well). Due to concerns about losing the last one, both were a bit under-ripe (15 and 16 brix), but had good size. Both of the ones which I picked were protected by zip-lock bags, without rot (knocks on wood).

Seneca- Wildlife got the last one before it even colored up…ugh.

I’ve also got a bunch of new ones which haven’t produced yet (Mariposa, Kubanskaya, Opal, Purple Heart, Earli Majic, AU Rosa and Producer as well as as 3 pluots and 6 euros not mentioned here).

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Bob,
Thanks for the report. How many years does it take for a Catleton to fruit?

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Alan, the rainy weather I didn’t put the right dates on - it was rainy well into July (edited to fix). It cleared up in early August for a bit but then got more rainy (and rotting) recently. I also neglected Earli Magic which is there now. It ripened in prime rot weather so did not do very well.

@Austransplant and I are in similar climate and I expect our rot problems are a notch worse than you a bit further north.

@BobVance, thanks for the report. My daughter just picked a bunch of my Larodas this morning which I knew were not ripe - they look ripe well before they are. We will see how they counter ripen now that they are picked. Last year I forgot about the tree and found them perfectly ripe - and amazing flavor! Save a few for latest and check out the brix on them, its going to be way up there.

The majority on your grow list requires too much chill for my zone. But then I have no idea what rot on plums is like.

‘Beauty’ seems to have a long bloom period (is said to be a good pollenizer) and tastes like sweet, flavorful plum wine. A real winner for taste, but the fruit is a little on the small side. Granted, these traits may be tied to water deficit.

‘Santa Rosa’ was THE plum of my youth here in So Cal. Not my favorite, usually very tart skinned if picked a tad early, and has a small harvest window because it doesn’t hold very well. I have a small bargain basement tree in a pot that I will plant out in Jan.

I got my tree in spring 2013. I grew it in a pot for 2013, then planted it in the fall or next spring (fall I think) when I decided that I would attempt plums. So this is its second year in the ground. It is actually a multi-graft I got from Cummins, along with Seneca. I’m not sure if they would have fruited if I stuck them straight in the ground.

Growing for a year or two in a pot seems to get them fruiting right away and keep them from growing much. Sometimes it does it too well and the tree doesn’t seem to grow much (my Superior for example). Maybe that is why I’m so blown away by Laroda and Lavinia’s growth- they are among the first Asian plums I planted directly into the ground without a stop in a pot. I should measure- I bet they are in the 12-14’+ range after 1.7 growing seasons, while Superior is actually getting shorter (fruit pulling the branches into a weeping form), at 4-5’.

Thanks, Bob. I planted my Castleton last year. Then, I realized that the spot was not sunny enough so I move it this spring. I think I set it back as a result but it still grows well this year. I hope it will flower next year.

My Satsuma and Shiro grow like weed. Lavinia graft also grows well. These J. Plum grow a lot faster than the Euro counterpart.

Methley and Burgundy Plums were big winners here this year. Really impressed with both in our low chill area.

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