Auburn Plums taste?

richardklaas(7)February 26, 2011

I'm planning out my small orchard, and trying for as little spray as possible. So far, I've bought mostly disease resistant cultivars. I just discovered the Auburn University series of plums online, and wondered what other's experience was. I have 2 real questions:

#1: Are they actually disease resistant in a significant way?

#2: How do they taste? In other words, are they as good as their implied namesakes (Rosa, Methley)?

thanks!

Rich

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dallasfruitgrower

Auburn has put out quite a few plum varieties.

It really depends on the variety that you are looking at for disease resistance and taste. Some are better than others.

Which ones are you looking at? AU Rosa?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 10:05PM
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richardklaas(7)

The Rosa and Rubrum varieties have the best sounding combination of taste, productivity, and disease resistance according to the catalog. I always wonder what they are not telling me, and appreciate any independent opinions. The Rubrum is self fertile, which is a plus for me, as I might like to start with only 1 plum tree.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 11:48AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Ashtons plum book has the following taste ratings:

Good: AU Cherry, Rosa
Very Good: AU Rubrum, Homeside
Excellent: Producer, Roadside

All the comments on disease resistance are similar. These ratings don't necessarily translate to your conditions but its better than nothing to go on.

Scott

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 6:40PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

I've grown Roadside and Rosa. They weren't very good, so I pulled them out.

As I recall Rosa was a healthy tree and easy to grow. It also set a heavy crop. Roadside wasn't near as healthy, but the fruit was slightly better tasting.

It's pretty difficult to grow plums without spray anyway (Curc, OFM, bac. spot) so I'd give up on trying to grow a low spray plum and go for high quality instead.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 6:57PM
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richardklaas(7)

Thanks, all. Everyone is very helpful as always. I went ahead and ordered a Rubrum from Johnson Nursery. I'll let you know how it works out in a few years!
Rich

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 8:42PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Looked at my notes, and I got my above post backwards.

Rosa tasted better here, but had more foliage problems. Roadside was a very clean looking tree but the fruit wasn't as good.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 9:00AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Olpea, thats good information, thanks. I am growing Roadside and Producer and should get some fruit off of Producer this year. Your remarks on their quality don't surprise me a lot, given the breeder focus these days on firmness and disease resistance with taste way behind. What plums have proved winners for you so far? I would be interested to know. For me it is only Satsuma but it looks like Purple Heart will also be a winner and Shiro and Superior almost make the cut.

Scott

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 9:19AM
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richardklaas(7)

@Scott: When you say winner, are you talking about taste, or the whole picture of taste, disease resistance, ease of growth etc?
Rich

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 9:42PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Scott,

I just saw your post above this morning.

I'm still pretty early in the plum game and they don't fruit as fast for me as peaches. I've only fruited 6 different plums. I wouldn't classify any of them as all that great, but then when I first started planting them, I didn't really focus on trying to plant the highest quality plums.

Of the 6, President was the best for me. Still, it's not good enough I'd recommend it to anyone.

I have some highly touted plums coming on that I'm optimistic about. Several Gages, Valor and some others.

Ordered a Long John for this Spring based on discussions on this forum.

Tried the Superior once based on your recommendations, but a bad storm wallowed the tree out and pulled so many roots off, it killed the tree before I could ever taste the fruit.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 9:15AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Thanks olpea. Rich, when I state winner I mean on all counts. My favorite tasting plums are Santa Rosa and Flavor Supreme but neither are productive enough to call winners. Also I have many great Euro plums but they have not been fruiting reliably enough yet to call winners due to how I pruned them incorrectly; Coes Golden Drop is my favorite there so far.

Scott

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 9:35AM
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fruitgrower_gardener(7a/7b)

I have Rubrum,Rosa,Roadside,Auburn,and Producer but I didn't know about the A.U. Cherry, none of mine has fruited yet, but no disease problems so far. got mine from johnsons in Ellijay.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 2:39PM
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alan haigh

You can speed the fruiting process of the Euros by festooning (pulling below horizontal) the branches or just a branch for that matter.

Last year was the first that Long John bore well for me and I've been trying to grow it for about 15 years. I had actually cut trees down in my nursery. The one in my orchard died on its own so I didn't have to kill it.

It's one I've never tried to trick into early bearing but come on, 15 years? Now that the one LJ I still manage has cropped well I'm wondering if the big old tree will now be consistently productive. It's in a very good spot so I'll let you know how it does this season.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 5:25AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Hman,

It was largely on your comments (and your reported observations from Jim Cummins) that made me decide to plant Long John. I've read posts where you've been back and forth on whether it's worth planting, but your positive comments last year finally pushed me over the edge to order it.

15 years is hard to believe. Because of poor precocity in your experience, I'll make sure not to prune it until bearing, and when it bears, thin it ruthlessly. 15 years, wow! I can tell you, I won't have that kind of patience.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 12:28PM
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Marcus-A-Toole

Greetings all: I live in Alberta Canada but am moving to Georgia and plan to plant a small backyard orchard in Statesboro Zone 8a (near Savannah). Can anyone make recommendations for my area?

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 1:07AM
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alan haigh

Marcus, welcome. You should post a new message.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 7:13AM
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coolmantoole

Greetings All: I responded before under my real name Marcus A Toole: Well I've moved into Statesboro GA and got most of my orchard planted. For plums I'm trying Robusto, Improved Methley, Methley, Byron Gold, Ruby Queen, Black Ruby, Au Roadside, and AU Producer. For European plums I've planted Green Gage, Jefferson, Golden Transparent, and Stanley. I'm praying that the Euros and the two older Japanese varieties don't sucum to disease in our heat and humidity. I've also planted a succor from our long standing family plum tree of unknown variety. It's a Chickasaw type which we keep handing down through planting succors. The plums are an inch and a half across and are pretty good for a Chickasaw plum. They make real good jam. Thanks and God bless.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 9:27PM
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coolmantoole

I can't comment on taste yet. I planted individual plum trees of several different varieties this winter and can now give some info on how my trees did in SE Georgia in a hot summer after a warm winter. Mind you I planted one tree of each variety so the information is anecdotal at best.

Asian Plums
Methley: Slow and erratic at breaking dormancy after warm winter with low chill hours. It was one of the last trees to get started and has grown slowly but looks healthy so far. It was a potted plant when I planted it, and I cut it back pretty good. It is roughly back to the size it was before i pruned it.

Santa Rosa: Responded identically to its new growing situation and the season as Methly. It looks healthy, but it sprouted slowly and erratically, and has barely grown back to the size it was when I planted it.

Both of the above trees were six foot and in 3 gallon posts when purchased. The trees are smaller than some of the wips of other varieties I planted this winter now in late August of their first year.

SE Adapted Asian X Chickasaw plum varieties:

AU Producer: Came bare root from an online nursery in N Georgia. Tree was meter high and was pruned by nursery. It was suppose to be beginning it's second season but it looked older to me, and it bloomed profusely but set no fruit. It was the fasted growing variety starting out but stopped growing in June and started looking diseased. I pruned it some, and it has started putting on some more new growth. AU Producer is supposed to be one of the most disease resistant varieties, mine is the least healthy looking tree even though it grow a lot early on. (I don't think I can blame the nursery.)

AU Roadside: I planted this late from a 3 gallon pot. The tree looks healthy but did not grow much as was the case with other potted plum trees I planted.

Ruby Queen: Came bare root and was starting its second season. It came from the same N Georgia nursery as AU Producer. Like AU producer this tree sprouted early and grew fast this spring. It was trying to take the shape of a Christmas tree which is not a good shape for a plum tree, so I topped it. It stopped growing after being pruned, but otherwise it looks healthy.

Byron Gold: I got this tree as a bare root whip from a nursery in TN. This tree was the smallest when I got it, and it is now the tallest but probably not the largest in terms of growing mass. My late dad used to park his pickup in this spot, so I'm guessing fertilizer has been spilled here. This tree grow over 12 feet and has naturally taken on a beautiful vase shape. Given all the new growth. If it keeps growing like this, it may have a hard time blooming and bearing fruit.

Rubusto: Came as a 3 ft root ball tree from a nursery in Florida. This tree did not grow as tall during its first year as Byron Gold, but it has a bushier canopy, and probably has more new biomass. It is the most beautiful specimen of a plum tree of the bunch, even though Byron Gold also looks magnificent.

Improved Methley: I don't know if this is a hybrid or not. It grew nicely, but the foliage always had kind of a pink look too it like it is deficient in some nutrient. It's the only plum tree in my orchard sitting in more or less clay soil.

Mystery Plum: The tree is beautiful and healthy looking. It's probably a Chickasaw X Asian hybrid of some sort. It is sucker from a tree my aunt owned, wish was a sucker from a tree my dad owned which as a sucker my dad got as part of a barter from one of his customers back in the early 70s. It's a big sweet plum, but tastes more like a Chickasaw plum than an Asian plum. It merited a spot in the orchard more out of nostalgia than anything. My aunt's tree never produced fruit probably due to lack of a pollination partner. My dad's tree always produced very well, but there there were wild Chickasaw plums growing nearby for pollination.

European Plums: These are not recommended for SE Georgia, but I decided to try them anyway, and so far it has been OK. They all look a lot healthier than AU Producer.

Jefferson: This tree grew almost as much as Rubustor and is perfectly shaped, healthy looking and beautiful. According to the nursery, this is supposed to be the most disease resistant Gage type plum they carry. All I can say is so far, so good.

Green Gage Orleans (the classic Green Gage): This tree grew well and tall but all on three relatively unbranched vertically oriented branches. Next spring I will probably have to remove much of this years growth to get the tree to take a proper shape.

Golden Gage: This tree grew well early on, then became diseased looking. (No surprise here) It lost most of its leaves in late June or early July and then started growing again. It looks like it snapped out of whatever was wrong and the tree now looks fine and is growing like its spring rather than late August. I know that this part of the orchard got very dry while I was out of the country for over a week in late June and early July. I think the tree basically went dormant due to drought. I'm guessing that what ever fungus or bacterium was attacking the tree it liked the dry conditions even less than the tree did.

Stanley: This tree grew the least and seems to be the least robust of the European Plums so far. It suffered really badly from the dry spell when it was not watered and has not recovered as well as the Golden Gage.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 5:23PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Coolman, for the first year they may not do much at all. Next year you will start to see better how well adapted they will be.

My AU Roadside and Ruby Queen were both super bland this year, in fact my RQ are ripe now and I'm not even bothering to pick them .. that bad.

Scott

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 8:16AM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

I found an interesting article on Aubrn's web site. It lists the disease resistance of the AU plums (and some others) at their 2 test sites. They break it out by fruit spot, leaf spot, canker, black knot, brown rot, and plum leaf scald.

Interestingly, AU Rosa is 0 damage across the board. Everything else has some brown rot, and usually another minor ailment. It also details fruit quality info and AU Rosa looks pretty good at 17.6 brix.

One other interesting option is Crimson. It is slightly smaller and lower in brix, but it would spread the harvest out a bit, as it is 3 weeks later and almost as disease resistant. It gets a touch of brown rot (lowest rating, other than AU Rosa) and moderate Plum Leaf Scald.

Anyone know if PLS something that only impacts the deep south, or is common in the NE too?

Here is a link that might be useful: AU Plums

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 1:30PM
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coolmantoole

Well, my Byron Gold was by far the fasting growing of the supposedly disease resistant plums. It's blooming like crazy now, but bloomed earlier than the other plums. Au Roadside, and Ruby Queen and Robusto are just beginning to bloom. My sense is that most of the Byron Gold flowers did not have a pollination partner. *sigh* We shall see.

I planted three Gage type plums and one prune (Stanly) last year. I'm already seeing evidence of black knot on Stanley, so I'm not optamistic that its going to do here. The Gage plums look good so far. Green Gage is going to bloom a little bit. It and Jefferson grow almost as much as the Byron Gold. Robusto, an Asian / Chickasaw plum hybrid, also did really well and will bloom like crazy this year. It's just starting to bloom and should overlap well with Au Roadside and Ruby Queen.

I certainly should get some Rubusto plums. Maybe I will get enough for some jam or plum sauce.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 9:59AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Coolman, I don't find black knot a big problem. Just keep and eye and cut it out every time you see. Overall I have lost only one large scaffold in a dozen years. Brown rot is a much more serious and difficult to control problem.

If you get some plums please post how they tasted.

Scott

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 1:34PM
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johnhenry1

I am wondering if I will receive much greater production if I plant two a u rubrum (self fertile) plum trees instead of one only.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 8:13AM
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rayrose(8)

You'll get much better production, if you plant a Santa Rosa and an AU Rubrum together. Although rubrum is self fertile, it will produce a lot more with Santa Rosa. Planting 2 rubrums won't accomplish anything.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 9:07AM
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alan haigh

I cropped Ruby Queen for the first time this season and was very impressed with the quality once it got very ripe. It takes longer to ripen than you'd expect from appearance as it turns completely purple a couple weeks before reaching top quality (based on this year only).

It will replace Fortune for me as my latest bearing J. plum, although I will stick some Elephant Heart grafts on other varieties because at sites it works it is the best in quality of any J I grow. I need to figure out how to make it crop more consistently, though.

One plum that surprises me by the lack of a following is Ozark Premier. Grown in full sun this one has this wonderful meaty texture and is best before it turns completely red and becomes attractive to birds. The huge fruit makes the grower proud as well and it still is a good eating size, unlike a lot of super-sized apples, which tend to exceed my appetite.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 10:52AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Harvestman, Ruby Queen was inconsistent for me, some years it just wouldn't sweeten up. This last year it set lightly and still didn't sweeten up so I took it out (I let the fruits hang forever as well, they were getting soft). I hope you have better luck with it, when it was good for me it was very good.

Scott

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 10:57AM
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alan haigh

Yeah, this year it was Fortune that didn't sweeten up well, but that tree isn't in full sun. Did your Ruby Queen get full sun? Mine actually doesn't- but does get early morn to mid PM sun in an almost hydrophobic soil. If it turns out not to be so good it will be far from the first time I've been fooled by a first light crop of a new variety. I'll graft my nursery trees over to EarliMagic if it lets me down.

I like its deep purple flesh and its spreading growth habit, compared to Fortune, which is extremely upright for a J.

Given how good stone fruit was in general here I should be cautious in evaluations based on the 2013 crop, but I just can't help myself. It's all about what you've done for me lately.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 3:13PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

My RQ sounds like yours, early morning to mid PM. I am currently most excited by Laroda and Mariposa for late plums, but I only have one year of each of them.

Scott

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 4:09PM
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alan haigh

I worry about cold hardiness with the red flesh plums. I even get a lot of cambium damage on Santa Rosa at my site, although just a little higher up or further south it does fine.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 5:44PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Laroda is the same zone as Santa Rosa, it also tastes somewhat similar to me. Mariposa is supposed to be one zone warmer so its probably not worth trying where you are.

Scott

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 6:00PM
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