Green Guage Plum

gardener365(5b Illinois USA)April 16, 2011

Hello Forum,

I'm in the middle of what an article states and what books I have, state.

I found an article on the net that took the reader on an adventure to France, to the orchards of 'Green Guage'. The article states that these orchard farmers use a few pollinators, strategically placed to better pollinate their 'Green Guage' orchards. The pollinators are: Stanley, Monsieur and Royale de Montauban.

I guess I'm wondering if any of you with these trees consider them to need a pollinator?

'Stanley' I can only find in the US. I have (3) Green Guage as the only plums so far in an orchard section of my property.

If you're interested, I'll link to the article.

Kindest Thanks,

Dax

Here is a link that might be useful: A Finicky Fruit Is Sweet When Coddled

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Dax:

David Karp is famous for searching out the worlds best fruits. And what he points out in that article is that it is as much, if not more, about the growing conditions, terroir, as about the variety. I do think he and I would like the same kinds of fruit, very high brix and very high flavor. I'm convinced they go together. To concentrate the flavor and sugar one needs the right terroir.

Southwest France has hot dry summers and I'd bet those 30.5 brix Green Gage were grown with little, and more likely no irrigation. On Long Island it's probably not possible to grow such fruit unless you grow them in a pot.

I'm fortunate to have dry conditions and blazing sun all year long. My best fruit last year were 24-30 brix pluot, sweet cherry, and nectarine.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 6:29PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

I follow you well. I'm hoping my loamy clay which is heavily concentrated in minerals and dries at the surface during summer & often, gives me some pretty tasty Green Guage plums.

That's all I needed to know and I really appreciate it.

Dax

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 6:35PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Dax:

Sorry I confused you with someone from Long Island. But Illinois is not much different except even colder winters. We all have to search for what does best in our conditions. And what is the best fruit in SW France is probably not the same as the best in IL.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 6:35PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

I call that "comparing climates" - it's a term I've used for nearly a decade.

Well thanks for everything, I appreciate your second reply, as well.

Dax

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 6:42PM
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theaceofspades(7 Long Island)

Fruitnut, writer David Karp is from Long Island and grew Green Gage.
His Old Green Gage tree probably never got sprayed and still he got a sweet crop every few years.

Some reports rate Washington Gage as the best of all gage plums. Washington was a Gage seedling from NY, so is Middleburg, I got my tree from Arboreum.

So far I've collected over 200 stone fruit varieties, mostly plums, cots and peaches. Cots do well because there are no late frosts like most places. Cots and plums are in bloom now. Today I went out and hand pollinated a multi grafted cot tree. I am going to update my collection on 'my trade list' after grafting season. Starting this year we will see more and more how stone fruits grow here on Long Island.

In the next few weeks I am grafting and pot growing several multi grafted plum/pluot trees for brix trial. For water stress I'll use a cut out a plastic garbage can during ripening stage.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 7:37PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Ace, The Plums of NY rated Pearl and Transparent Gage the highest of the Gage types (very good to best), gave a very good to Green Gage, Jefferson, Middleburg, Bavays, General Hand, Purple Gage, and a good-to-vg to Washington. Thats why I was not as interested in it but I'm sure its great because nearly all the Gages are great plums and each is a little different. I have only had my Transparent Gage and Pearl fruit and they were excellent. This year my Bavays, Jefferson and Middleburg are flowering along with a few other Gages so I hope I can try a bunch of them.

Re: pollinators for Green Gage, most Euro plums will work except Mirabelles or other institia types.

Scott

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 9:30PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

You just never know till you try it yourself,... I was surprised in my zone 3.
When I was reading the article it was always mentioned about a little plum, this confused me because the green gage is not a little plum, this made be think that they got mixed up with the Mirabelle de Nancy, [link]...which is also very popular in France,...but the picture in article definitely is a green gage.

Here is mine...

Here is a link that might be useful: Mirabelle de Nancy

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 9:50PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

theaceofspades:

Good to know that about David Karp. I should look for more of his writings.

I think you have the right idea trying stone fruit in pots. I think that's the best solution for humid climates. You won't like the results all the time but I've learned a lot by having both inground and potted side by side.

Regarding the water regime to maximize eating quality, it's not just a matter of drying things out during ripening. A gradually increasing stress much earlier than ripening is what I'm after and what mimics natural dry summer climate conditions.

I'm growing in 15 gallon pots. The first year the tree is very vigorous. During the second year vigor drops dramatically and even more the third year. Basically the tree reaches the maximum size it can sustain based on root volume, canopy size, and water demand. Somehow out of this suedo bonsai condition we can end up with a low vigor, water deficit tree that for me has often raised brix substantially.

Lower vigor, sustained water deficit, and lower nitrogen fertility all lead to fruit with smaller cells and higher brix. These conditions can also change and/or enhance flavor. My yellow low acid nectarines are the best fruit I've ever eaten but only when water stress brings on just the right flavor. Brix runs 24-27 at the best spot.

If you are going pots you might as well put up a high tunnel. This will greatly reduce rain damage and disease while increasing water control. A tunnel will also add heat. Most stone fruit need quite a bit of heat for maximum quality. Even the south of France is pretty hot. I tend to think the Gages are a cooler climate fruit but that's not SW France.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 10:17PM
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alan haigh

Gard, I was at a lecture by the author of the article at the Montecello NAFEX meeting. I don't consider David to be at all an expert on fruit but is more like a food critic of fruit. He only knows what he's told as far as cultivation goes. His taste buds are his guide as a critic.

His love of Green Gage is probably highly motivated by the sentimental recollections of the fond days of his youth. There's lots of great plums out there, both recent and ancient varieties, and I don't think Green Gage should be anyone's first choice because of its difficulties to cultivate (in humid regions).

3 trees of any one variety is really not very practical in a home orchard but on years where your Green Gauges are destroyed by untimely rain you may regret not planting other more reliable and, in my opinion, equally delicious plums. Even on years when they come through, you'll have wonderful plums for 2 weeks (you'll probably give most away) and be blank for the rest of the 2 months of plum season where you are.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 7:45AM
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Orange_Pippin

A lot of the problems with Green Gage can be resolved by planting good pollinators nearby.

The word "Gage" comes from an Englishman of that name, who imported some of these varieties from France - from where they were taken to the US. In France all this group of plums are known as "Reine Claude". Reine Claude de Bavay is one of the most widely grown commercially in France.

The flavor is excellent, but I would agree with harvestman, there are plenty of other European plums (as opposed to gages) which are more reliable and yet have good flavor as well. I certainly rate Jefferson (a gage-like plum).

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 8:47AM
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alan haigh

Fruitnut, you never responded to a recent post of mine where I wrote about my assertion at another site that N. levels affect brix levels of fruit. I was asked to bring forth evidence of this assertion and only found evidence refuting it. Are you aware of any research that confirms the correlation? I'd like to prove I (we) was right, but my own efforts provided only proof of the opposite.

Water deprivation, on the other hand, has a well established relationship to higher brix levels but to effectively use this method (to get high brix, but also good sized fruit) is somewhat complicated.

The response is highly affected by the developmental stage of the fruit at the time of deprivation. Also the nature of the deprivation was important as in studies different results were had by different kinds of water deprivation where water was either reduced to the entire root zone or just part of it. Unfortunately the article I read was about grapes and not stonefruit, but I thought it might be food for thought in your quest for big flavor.

The article appeared in Goodfruit recently.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 9:02AM
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Tony(Zone 5. Omaha, Nebraska)

Fruit nut,

I have been searching for the best and sweet as honey plums. I think I finally found them. I Just planted a Red Ace plum and Autumn sweet. As Luther Burbank mentioned about his Red ace plum "Big, Juicy and sweet as honey" and Autumn sweet.

Tony

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 9:29AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

harvestman:

I have much first hand experience in fruit pointing to water as a key component in fruit quality. With nitrogen on the other hand my direct evidence is confined to sugarbeets and carrots. I did university research on sugarbeet for 25 years. In that crop the more nitrogen applied the lower sugar. Water has a less well defined effect on sugar. But in all these crops the key seems to be that factors causing rapid growth increase cell size and lower brix.

I should probably quit making any assertions relative to nitrogen and fruit quality since my conclusions are largely inferred. It's hard to separate the effects of water, nitrogen, vigor, leaf area, crop load, and other factors. It's just my general feeling that high vigor in a fruit tree is associated with large fruit, low brix, and weak flavor. Nitrogen is certainly a key factor in tree vigor.

University research on fruit production is sadly lacking in the area of fruit quality. Growers don't generally get paid for eating quality and research follows suit.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 10:48AM
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theaceofspades(7 Long Island)

Scott, you said; "The Plums of NY rated Pearl and Transparent Gage the highest of the Gage types (very good to best), gave a very good to Green Gage, Jefferson, Middleburg, Bavays, General Hand, Purple Gage, and a good-to-vg to Washington."

The 'Plums of NY' were evaluated in Geneva NY a hundred years ago. The climate is different and has changed.

More recently Ashton writes in Plums of N. America, Transparent Gage; "In America it has not shown itself to be as good as some of the other Reine Claude plums"

We will just have to see which Gage is 'the best'. I ordered the last Reine Claude de Conducta from Cummins, said to be 'very good' and 'more productive' in 'Plums of N. America'. I have an extra scion of Reine Claude de Moissac if you don't have it and want to try out.

Fruitnut, AM Leonard sells a 35 gallon pot for just $13.49. It is a much wider 15 gallon pot, 28w x 15h. I was thinking it would keep the tree from going over in wind. I've decided to transplant last years Flavor King seedlings into these two big pots when I get them delivered. I will top work the seedlings with pluots next spring. What soil mix should I use?

Here is a link that might be useful: Kavid Karp NY Times

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 11:01AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I use a coarse locally produced compost that is largely wood shavings used in mouse/rat growing operations. You want very good drainage but not over drained. I add a little potting soil or peat moss to get the drainage I want. The professional container growers use turface and such but it is too heavy and expensive for me.

I've tried 30 gallon pots I can get here free. But they are just too heavy even with my light weight mix. In a 30 gal pot you won't be able to just water every day and forget it unless your tree is pretty large.

With a tree about 5ft by 5ft in a 15 gal pot I water once a day in summer. That's the tree size I get with that watering schedule and pot size. The tree won't get much bigger without more frequent watering in my conditions.

During dormancy watering is about once a month. In spring every 2-5 days.

The biggest problem is that if the soil mix dries excessively between watering, then it can be very hard to rewet. The water just runs down the edges. If I water everyday and let the pot size limit tree size, I don't have the rewetting problem. This seems to stress the tree as needed and certainly lowers vigor.

It's all educational:)

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 12:19PM
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alan haigh

Fruitnut, actually there is quite a bit of research on various factors affecting brix of fruit and fruit quality is important for commercial growers even if they're not going over the top as you are. I quickly found 2 or 3 carefully crafted experiments evaluating brix content of apples as affected by various levels of N. I don't remember if the experiments were done in Europe or the U.S., however.

Where the most research is probably being done on getting up the brix is in wine grapes, of course.

I too have assumed for years that fruit trees supplied with too much N would produce big tasteless fruit and starving the tree of it would probably make the fruit smaller with more concentrated sugar.

I too remember seeing research with certain vegetables that indicated this affect and assumed it would carry over to fruit trees.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 1:17PM
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sautesmom

"wood shavings used in mouse/rat growing operations"

????

Is that a big business there in Texas, Fruitnut? Who knew!
LOL
At last, the mystery ingredient for your delicious fruit!

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 7:14PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Ace, I agree you can't be sure about any of the recommendations. Overall I have found the old "NY" books are some of the best; Ashton likes a lot of the modern plums that I have found pretty uninteresting so I am not as sold on his recs as I used to be (he is also in a very different climate; NY 100 years ago is still a lot more like the NE climate today than Texas). The main weakness of the NY books is some the fruits that were out of fashion in 1917 they can be overly negative on, for example the George IV peach.

I have the Moissac Gage and it is in bloom now for the first year. I may be asking you for some of the Washington Gage in the future to see for myself on it.

Scott

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 11:11AM
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alan haigh

I cut down my George 1V. Fuzzy to a fault without any particularly interesting aromatics and ugly as a slug. Of course it may have been an imposter- I got it from Southmeadow.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 7:36PM
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alb419_ny(5)

tasted a few Green Gage a few years ago when I visited a friend that had moved to a new older house.Not a good looking fruit .but the taste was delicious ,never before I
had tasted any thing so good,was able to get some cuttings
two years ago or so,and one of the grafts took,and is now growing nicely.Green Gage is biennal producing fruit tree ,
and if you can get the real one you will not be disappointed.Ciao,Giuseppe

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 7:58AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

"Green Gage is biennal producing fruit tree..." Not heard that before. My Cambridge Gage certainly isn't.

It has finished flowering now and the tiny fruitlets are beginning to form. It ripens mid-August.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 8:33AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Hman, my George IV had a unique flavor so you may have not had the original. Several of the old Southmeadow peach varieties are considered to have been wrong, even before the place started getting mis-managed. Trees of Antiquity is selling the correct variety I believe. The main problems with the peach are very small size and lack of productivity.

Scott

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 9:23AM
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alan haigh

Yes, that's why I mentioned the source. Their rep sucked for last decade of their existence.

Mine weren't that small, just average and very green- even compared to Belle of Georgia. No problem with productivity. I wouldn't grow a peach that has low productivity- that would automatically help the quality considerably.

I guess I won't comment on George anymore, as apparently I have no experience with it.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 10:13AM
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marknmt

Curious observation regarding brix and stressing: it's pretty well accepted among wheat farmers, I believe, that the highest protein level in any given wheat concurs with dry seasons.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 8:52PM
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alb419_ny(5)

flora uk,
accoprding to my friend is two Green Gage trees produce havely one year in August here in upstate ny and very litle the next year.I grow many fruits ,big on figs ,but it took me many years to finally get the real Green Gage,many nurseries sell this variety ,but I was always disappointed
when I got ripe fruits,it was not the real G.Gage.Ciao,
Giuseppe

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 5:22PM
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alan haigh

Yes, both Miller and Adams sold me completely faux GG's, and I bought them by the bundle for my business. I actually did work for an estate that ordered and installed 50 green gauges from Adams before I came there. For a couple of years Adams was selling something called "Japanese Green Gauge" as GG and it wasn't even a very good J. plum. The estate got these as did I in an earlier purchase. The ones Miller sold me were dreadful- early purple plums, bland and very prone to cracking.

I believe that Adams now has the correct GG and I've ordered a few of them from there recently- they're form is identical to ones I purchased from Cummins but the trees were larger.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 7:01PM
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theaceofspades(7 Long Island)

Green Gage has bee around for 500 years. Reine Claude Doree' is said to be the 'real' Green Gage.

There are many GG offspring that are equal or better depending on where they are grown.

Reine Claude de Bavays
Reine Claude Violette -Purple Gage
Reine Claude Diaphane -Transparent Gage
Early Transparent Gage -seedling of Transparent Gage
Reine Claude d'Oullins -Oullins
Opal -An Oullins cross
Reine Claude de Moissac
Reine Claude Conducta
Reine Red -Red fruited tree from a GG bud mutation
Reine de Mirabelle -Mirabelle x Gage cross
General Hand -largest Reine Claude plum
Washinton -Best
Jefferson -seedling of Washinton
McLaughlin -hardy from Maine
Imperial Gage -GG seedling from Long Island circa 1790

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 9:59AM
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Ellie1794

Good day all,
I am searching for a source of the Gen Hand plum for a museum. Does anyone know where I might be able to acquire this variety? Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 10:39AM
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Tony(Zone 5. Omaha, Nebraska)

Here is some infos on Gen Hand Plum. You might have to do more research.

Tony

Here is a link that might be useful: Gen Hand Plum

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 10:36AM
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eboone_gw

I know that the Southmeadow Fruit Garden used to sell that General Hand plum, but they lost their formerly good reputation through poor service and products. I saw that their website is still up, but it looks as though it has not been updated in years.

Good luck

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 11:06AM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

>>my friend is two Green Gage trees produce havely one year in August here in upstate ny and very litle the next yearI would agree with this statement,.. mine does the same.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 1:56AM
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Ellie1794

Thank you Tony and eboone. I'll let you know how we do.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 2:41PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I obtained General Hand from a CRFG swap. If you are in California it may be at their swaps this spring. It is also available from the ARS. I ran out of room for it so I had to cut it out last winter.

Scott

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 10:37PM
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eboone_gw

Scott,
What was your opinion of the plum?

What is ARS?

Thanks,
Ed

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 10:51PM
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Ellie1794

Scott, Unfortunately, we are in PA. I am also unfamiliar with the ARS could you explain? Southmeadow did respond to me but said they are unavailable until 2015.
I am enquiring for Rock Ford Plantation in Lancaster, the home of General Hand. It's a fantastic place but seems incomplete without the correct plum. We had some trees that we're provided by Rutgers University in the early 1960's but they are long gone.
Pam

Here is a link that might be useful: Rock Ford Plantation

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 4:41PM
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eboone_gw

The places Scott was referring to are exchanges of scion wood. You would have to graft it onto a plum rootstock. I think your only source to get trees might be to order now from Southmeadow for 2015 - basically you would be asking them to graft it next year for 2015.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 11:30PM
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