Plums 2020

How are folks’ plums coming out this year? I am getting quite a few varieties fruiting and am actually getting fruit unlike the peaches and pears which the critters are getting nearly all of. (It has been the worst critter year in the last 10 or more years here, probably due to a mild winter.)

Here are some remarks on plums from my orchard, in rough order of ripening.

Early Magic - This plum is fine but is not super flavorful. Its main claim to fame is the early. I don’t think I am going to keep it though, I would rather wait another week for the Shiros.

Shiro - This plum has grown on me in 20 years of growing it, when well-ripened they are a real treat with a bit of caramel in the flavor. They were very tasty this year.

Weeping Santa Rosa - These were good if a bit watered down from rains. The skin is quite bitter, probably not to everyones liking but I really liked 'em.

Satsuma - This is often my favorite. This year I think I let it overset and maybe also due to the weather they are much less sweet than usual. They are still yummy. This is the first year I can remember when they were not awesome. Every year is different…

Laroda - This is now my favorite of the Santa Rosa type plums and is headed toward being my favorite overall plum. It is sweeter, more aromatic, and less bitter skin compared to WSR. It also sets very well. I need to get more of this one.

Flavor King - just starting to ripen now. This is a kid’s fruit dream, sweet crunchy and tastes like candy. It is not my thing though, candy I can get from the candy store. I grew it several years ago before I was doing rot sprays and it was a horrible rotter, but with Indar it is not rotting at all and I have not sprayed it since early June.

French Petite - These are also just starting to ripen. They are super tasty as usual, very rich sweet flavor. Some split at the bottoms in all the rain we have gotten in the last couple of weeks. This is still the best Euro overall for me as it is very reliable.

Reine Mirabelles - I am having real problems getting this plum to carry fruit to maturity. It is getting completely decimated by the bugs where the plums right around it seem perfectly fine. The tree is 15 years old and I am about to give up on it, only one year did it get an OK crop.

Bavay’s - will be ripening soon, a couple early split ones I removed were very good. The fruits are bigger this year, still very small but not as small as previous years.


Plums up here are just starting to color up; apricots are ripening and some are finished.

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I’d like to try some of those.Just tried my first and only Laroda this year.Good flavor.
Your description of Flavor King almost sounds like Flavor Grenade,especially the crunchy part.I let them get somewhat soft and they are like fruit


Any recommendation on a plum that doesn’t have as much Japanese Beetle presence?


Your right. This is my worst year for animals as well. Especially birds. I agree with you on the french petite. It is one of the best of the euros. Your climate is the same as mine and I really appreciate the variety reports. It allows others nearby to see what is working. Thanks.


I only have prune plums now. They’re getting color and seem to have finished the summer drop. I may get more from the new Brooks tree than the old Stanley. Squirrels and rot permitting.

The weather has been so dry, I don’t much fear rot, but I sprayed the Indar today. Also deployed the nets and baffles.

It’ll be nice to have a fruit harvest for a change this year.


Is this the same as French Improved? Where did you purchase your tree from?

I prefer natural candy, picked from my trees :blush:. I understand why you feel so about it, however; to me and many others it is a great tasting plum… So, I would recommend for one to try it before judging whether it’s the right fruit for him/her or not.

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I haven’t seen much difference. Too much vigor will make too many shoots so lower vigor helps, but all plums are vigorous.

Yes, that is the name I bought it under. It was from Bay Laurel many years ago.

Yes I confess I don’t like Zaiger fruits a whole lot in general, they lack tannins and other “darker” flavors. Since they are winning taste tests obviously a lot of people like them. Flavor King does get better as it gets more ripe, it gets a lot more aromatic. So I might have better things to say about it in a week :slight_smile:


Thanks for the report Scott. It’s always great to hear your first hand experience with different varieties.

The first time I tried Flavor King it reminded me of the floral qualities Beauty plum has, but meatier and sweet instead of watery.


On Japanese beetles I noticed they hardly ever landed on my Spice Zee nectaplum. It has red leaves. So maybe try Hollywood plum. I have only ever had one. Deep deep red flesh. I thought it was excellent. The beetles here seem in decline. I have yet to even see one


I thought Hollywood was a fine-tasting plum. Some people only think of it as an ornamental, but they’re missing out on the fruit.


Thanks, Scott for the report. I’ve eaten more varieties of E and J plums these past 3 years. My taste buds can’t detect subtlety. I tend to prefer sweet or more balanced taste. Not a fan of tartness.

For J plums, the ones stand out to me are I Elephant Heart, Laroda, Lavina, Purple Heart.

My grafted pluots have taken forever to fruit. I hope to taste a few Flavor King and one Flavor Supreme this year.

E plums, I like Coe’s Golden Drop , French Improved and ACN Valor. They are all sweet and aromatic. To me, good E plums have more complex taste than good J plums.

Thanks for your comment about Reine de Mirabelle. I was looking to buy the tree. I probably won’t now.

Maybe, will buy Mirabelle de Metz instead. Mirabelles have grown on me. A sugar balks, indeed.

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@Drew51, Thanks.

Does anyone know whether there are any variegated plums or for that matter any stonefruits having variegation?

The common “purple leaf plum” landscape tree is a magnet for Japanese Beetles but still I see what you’re saying Drew. I believe I’m going to try both of those to learn what happens with them here. I love stonefruit so much but I refuse to spray. Neem, yes; not every frickin day though.

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To follow up on Flavor King, they are a lot tastier now after a few days on the counter than they were a couple days ago. I think I will keep it, but will make sure to let them get non-hard before eating.

@mamuang I didn’t include several of the plums you listed because I didn’t sample them yet this year. Coe’s Golden Drop has a big crop and I should get a bunch of them in a few weeks. Purple Heart is on the edge of my orchard and it gets decimated by critters… I rarely get fruit on it any more. Satsuma is similar and has always been a bit better so I don’t really miss it much. Lavina is growing back after my previous cankered tree died, it is a big tree now and should start fruiting soon.

I have noticed the deer are pretty good at standing on their rear legs only and reaching for fruit. I thought they would need to put their hooves on the trunk but they don’t seem to need to. This is causing more deer predation than I was hoping now that I raised up the height of the fruit. I am going to have to keep raising things even higher, some trees they are getting almost nothing on since they are beyond their reach.

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I would have had a few stanley plums this year but OMF got the best of them along with all of my nectarines.

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All my notes of E plums were from previous years’ experience because, at my place, most of my E plums do not ripen until mid Sept and later.

This year, new E plums for me are Gras Romanesc and Jefferson. Don’t know when they will ripen.

I am thinking about Reine de Mirabelles for next season. I have read some good reviews of the plum. I have also read that mirabelles do very well here. I probably should have focused more on European plums, but I had to try some hybrid types first.

I take offence at this statement! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

I find FK very flavorful to the extent of being spicy. That balances out the sweetness very well. Maybe growing conditions are causing different flavors.


Nice post! I would love to taste Laroda…!

Plums are hard to grow for me here, in Qc. My 2 oldest trees are 5 years old now: BlackIce and RedStar. RedStar had a bad aphid infestation, but fortunatly, ladybugs found the tree and ate all of them. The tree is saved, but it couldn’t produce fruits (one is still hanging, but I’m sure squirrels will get it before it ripens). For some reason, BlackIce was loaded with plums at the beginning of the season, but all of them droped (except maybe 5 or 6). Same happened last year and the year before. I don’t think it’s a pollination problem, because they size up quite a bit before falling off. They are bagged, so it’s not an insect problem either.

Anyway, NY9 has some fruits on it for the first time. I’m hoping the squirrels will be busy with nuts by the time these plums are ready to harvest.

My 1 year old Purple Heart graft gave me quite a bit of delicious plums and I was very pleased with that!!!

Purple Hearts