Valor hits 27%!

Prune plums can get amazingly sweet and now I can put a number on it. I picked a Valor today that was a little shriveled but still quite juicy with 27% sugar and rich and wonderful flavor. I keep an Italian next to it for pollination that can’t top 20%. I don’t believe Empress can get that high either- I know nothing on my tree of that variety approaches the sweetness of the best Valors. My best J. plums top out at about 17 while Flavor Grenade pluot reached 20.

Flavor Grenade gets rave reviews from visitors, by the way, even if it is only about sugar and crunch. I need it on something more vigorous than Citation, however. I lose a high percentage to wasps waiting almost forever for them to completely ripen. I can’t even get the wasps to go for concentrated apple juice when it is in traps next to FG.

That’s sweet alright. How big are those Valor? Anything else that good for pollination?

pictures please!

What is there to the flavor profile besides sugars? Please don’t get me wrong, but I enjoy the complexities and nuances in flavors. So, what would you say differentiates the Valor from others besides the high sugar content?

1 Like

They are a large plum but not as big as usual because I didn’t thin enough this year. I usually get about a 30% crop reduction from a late strike of plum curculio which never happened this year, but I never thinned enough even with this in mind. Fruit set was so heavy this year at most sites I manage that the only species adequately thinned (that didn’t set a light crop) was nectarines, because they are my favorite children (oh, and also my least vigorous trees). I am fortunate that summer drought has helped compensate for the lack of adequate thinning.

If you are thinking of growing it, (and I don’t see why E.plums wouldn’t do as well where you are as other fruit grown in the CA valleys) and need a pollinator, I would probably grow a gage type for contrast and pollination. Oullins wouldn’t be a bad choice as it is high quality and ripens very early for a Euro- there would be absolutely no harvest overlap. But there are so many varieties I haven’t tasted. Eric, our resident E. plum expert, sent me some wood of his highest rated varieties, so I will have more info in a couple of years. Every variety he sent me is now growing on one of my orchard trees.

[quote=“mrsg47, post:3, topic:2465, full:true”]
pictures please!
[/quote] I hate taking pictures although I know it is useful for other folks- typing is like strategic talking for me and I have the dreaded chatter box gene, but taking photos just seems like a chore- I’ll try to get a couple on here today as I’m home doing other chores

I grow about 6 types of prune plums and they all have similar flavor profiles that I can’t really describe- I cant even describe the difference in flavor between them and gage plums, although if I had any good gage plums to compare with right now I could probably provide some kind of description of the contrasts. The main difference between J. plums and E. plums is that E.s are more syrupy than exploding with juiciness in the manner of J.s. E.s are sweeter and better for culinary purposes for the most part, although J.s can have incredible color.

For breakfast I had a waffle in a sauce with late peaches. The sauce was entirely from the plum I measured before writing this piece. The combination was so much better than with sliced peach alone and prune plums make an instant, nice, thick sauce.



I’ve planted a few of these trees based on your continuing appreciation of this variety. One other thing I’m starting to discover about it is that it also seems to fruit fairly early. My oldest Valor tree is in 3rd leaf this year and did produce a few plums (wildlife got them).

I’m growing a couple J. plums again and this year reminds me why I’m not that fond of them. The skin is more tart than E. plums, and of course J. plums are more prone to frost out here. One other thing I like is that E. prune plums are freestone.

@Olpea, there are many different kinds of Japanese plums and some have skin that is not very tart at all. Satsuma for example. Santa Rosa and all related to it are very tart in the skin.

My Valor also fruited very early. I haven’t gotten many fruits though due to rot issues on my Euro plums.

I am now harvesting my Middleburg plums. it looks a lot like Valor but is much later. It gets very little rot on it.

For all of these prune type plums I find the challenge is to get them to that deliciously ripe stage. They are boring when picked early, but the longer you wait the more sugar and flavor they have. I got a couple excellent French Prunes this summer, making me remember how awesome they are when fully ripened.

That is the thing- later ripening are often less likely to rot, but for me Valor is pretty late and I will be harvesting them well into Oct- started in the first week of Sept. (ARE YOU SURE YOUR WOOD WAS TRUE TO NAME, SCOTT)The ones that soften early seem never as sweet as the ones that stay firm until later, so there may be more than just getting them individually to max ripeness- although, in general, a rich amber one is pretty much always going to be sweeter than one with green flesh, but the soft amber ones I’m harvesting now are sweeter than the soft amber ones I was harvesting 3 weeks ago.

The crazy thing is that in order to get truly amazing prune plums, you have to feel every plum in the tree to evaluate the ripeness and pick them aT peak flavor- at least with varieties I grow. Commercial growers tend to pick them much to green for enjoyable eating.

For preserves, I think Damson plums are about the best and they taste like crap off the tree- unless you go for a strong dose of tannin. But they require more sugar for culinary use.

I love both J. and E plums and if you don’t want any tartness in a J, Scott is right about Satsuma and its also true of Elephant Heart and Flavor Grenade (I just can’t bring myself to call it the hypey title of pluot).

I am thinking the later ripening may be a main reason why Euro plums are easy for northerners compared to southerners. They are also from Europe which has relatively cool and short summers, its more like northern US. Alan you sent me the wood, so I’m pretty certain it is Valor.

I agree about feeling the plums. I picked a little too fast last night, was just grabbing a few, and I got some that are too unripe.

It better be. I wonder if when you get a bigger crop if some won’t be later- I thought Valor and Middleburg were in about the same season.

Does Valor ripen after Stnaley (my reference for prune plum)? If so, it probably wouldn’t work in my zone, Stanley doesn’t always get enough late season heat to sweeten well.

Here are photos featuring Italian, Valor and Empress plums listed from smallest to largest. The pruner is 7" long. The Empress plums are as big as any E. plum I’ve ever seen but you can visually see the greater sugar content in the Valor than either of the other two. The larger Empress weighs 3.75 ounces but is only 20% sugar. Still plenty sweet!

Here late season heat isn’t necessary for E. plums. Stanley probably doesn’t get up the sugar because it tends to drop its fruit too early, which may or may not be related to late heat but other varieties seem to sweeten up in cool temps. I pick my Valors some years right up to first hard frost as late as mid-Oct, but the first ones ripen with the last of the Stanleys.

If you want to be confident about getting high sugar prune plums, try a Castleton. It is small but gets very sweet and ripens here in August.

Those all look very good- once in a while I find ~20 brix euros at the farmer’s market, but most of the time they are the unripe ~15 brix ones.

I’m really looking forward to my own Valor (planted last year) and Flavor Grenade (planted this spring). How does Bluebyrd compare? The one I planted last year had a few fruits this year, but animals got most of them and I picked the last one too early (it was OK, but not all that tasty).

Anytime you want more pictures taken, I can stop by and take a bunch in order to get a tour of the place and maybe a few samples.

Bob, pictures or no, you are welcome to a tour. I’m around this weekend and plums won’t be on the trees forever.

They are all great looking. The plum that is more elongated is your Italian Plum?

Sounds great! I’ll message you.

Wish we could have a taste testing: Valor, Emerald Beaut, and Flavor Treat. The later two of mine have so far tested about 27 brix. I’ll pick them in the next couple weeks and post some pictures.

1 Like

All the French prunes I got at the farmer’s market this summer were under-ripened. Recently, some of the Itallian plums have actually been pretty good. Nothing like Alan’s 27 brix Valors I’m sure, but they have been around 18-20, which is still pretty good eating.

I took a look online for “middleburg plum” and other than your page and a gardenweb post, the only mention of it (in the top 50 results) was a 1913 NYS annual report which gave it a glowing description, including:
“Out of a collection of about 300 sorts on the station grounds, Middleburg and Palatine are freest from black knot and Middleburg is probably freer than any other Domestica plum from brown rot.”

Thanks for digging that up Rob. Its good to get a confirmation on its resistance to brown rot, I only had my own experience.

Did I ever post the Plums of NY writeup on Middleburg? It is glowing, here it is.


It is somewhat remarkable that so good a plum as Middleburg should have so long escaped the attention of fruit-growers and even of pomologists. Not even Downing has recorded it, though he lived not more than a hundred miles from the place of its origin, which must have taken place in his time. The fruits may be surpassed somewhat by other purple plums in appearance but few of them are better in quality, either for dessert or for cooking. It is especially valuable too, because it ripens late, hangs well to the tree and ships and keeps well, in the latter respect equalling the best of the prunes. Out of a collection of about three hundred sorts on the Station grounds, this would undoubtedly be chosen as the favorite purple plum of its season. The trees, while of only medium size, are robust, healthy, hardy and usually productive. In Schoharie County, eastern New York, where this variety originated and has long been grown, black-knot is usually epidemic and Middleburg and Palatine are said to be the sorts most free from the disease so free that neither is much troubled by it. From its behavior here it is certain that, belying the looks of either fruit or tree, Middleburg will improve upon acquaintance and that when well known it will be wanted in home collections at least and more than likely some commercial fruit-growers will find it profitable.

Middleburg came from Middleburg, Schoharie County, New York, where it was found as a chance seedling. Mr. S. D. Willard, of Geneva, first called attention to the variety in 1886 at a meeting of the Western New York Hortcultural Society. Its origin is much older than the date given, as it has been extensively grown in Schoharie County for a half-century or more.

Tree above medium in size, vigorous, round and open-topped hardy, productive; branches ash-gray, smooth, with small lenticels; branchlets of medium thickness and length, with long internodes, greenish-red, changing to brownish-red, overspread with light bloom, dull, somewhat pubescent, with few, inconspicuous, small lenticels; leaf-buds of medium size and length, pointed, appressed.

Leaves folded upward, oval, one and one-half inches wide, three and one-half inches long, rather thick, stiff; upper surface dark green, sparingly pubescent on the grooved midrib and larger veins; lower surface silvery-green, pubescent; apex and base acute, margin doubly serrate, with a few, small, dark glands; petiole eleven-sixteenths inch long, pubescent, tinged red, glandless or with from one to three small, globose, greenish-brown glands on the stalk or base of the leaf.

Blooming season early to medium, short; flowers appearing after the leaves, one inch across, white, borne in scattering clusters on lateral spurs, singly or in pairs; pedicels three-quarters inch long, overspread with fine, short pubescence, greenish; calyx-tube green, campanulate, pubescent at the base; calyx-lobes obtuse, thinly pubescent on both surfaces, glandular-serrate, somewhat reflexed; petals roundish or obovate, entire, with short, abrupt claws; anthers yellowish; filaments five-sixteenths inch long; pistil glabrous, equal to the stamens in length, with a large, pubescent ovary.

Fruit very late, season long; one and five-eighths inches by one and one-half inches in size, distinctly oval, compressed, halves equal; cavity very shallow, narrow, flattened; suture usually lacking; apex roundish; color varies from light to deep purplish-red, overspread with thick bloom; dots numerous, small, russet, inconspicuous; stem one inch long, thinly pubescent, adhering well to the fruit; skin thin, slightly sour, separating readily; flesh light yellow, rather juicy, somewhat coarse, firm, sprightly when first mature, becoming sweetish, strongly aromatic, pleasant flavored; very good; stone semi-free or free, one inch by five-eighths inch in size, irregular-oval, with pitted surfaces, slightly acute at the base and apex; ventral suture narrow, winged, faintly ridged; dorsal suture acute or with a shallow, narrow groove.