Really getting discouraged with plums

sujiwan_gwMay 21, 2014

When I was a kid in upstate NY near Rochester in the 60's, we had a couple of prune plums on opposite sides of the country property. One was yellow skinned with a green interior, the other was purple skinned. They were always jam-packed with plums. I always wanted to have plum trees after that.

Fast forward to today and I have 4 plum trees planted 3-4 years ago and nary a plum ever. Two, I purchased from St. Lawrence Nurseries--planted by my apple orchard in PA--and the other 2 were from Raintree here. I cannot recall the exact varieties- I think Toka and La Crescent in PA, and a Green Gage plus ? here--but I did look up which types would be good to plant together for increasing pollination chances.

Here in MD, one tree started bloom about a week earlier than the other. I stood and watched bees and small flies on the blossoms. The other tree was in bloom, but I didn't see any on it. The tree with the bees has ZERO fruit set. The other tree has maybe 7 green plumlets.

What gives? Is there any kind of universal pollinizer plum for the European plums? Does it make a difference if one started blooming a tad earlier? What's the lowest temperature plum blossoms can stand without fruit set being affected? We never did anything special to the NY plum trees and they were champs at production so I don't get why my 4 are so temperamental.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Not knowing what varieties we are speaking need to know that some plums are self-fertile...some not. Over-lap of pollinizer trees in bloom is important. Also, you might actually be fine. Plums are borne on fruiting spurs that take a few years to form. Unlike some fruit trees like peaches that bear on last year's wood. Young plum, apple, pear trees take awhile to bear any real fruit.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 6:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
alan haigh

You need to be more careful in selecting varieties for your region and also ones known to be highly productive. Plums are tricky and highly variable, especially European varieties, which become more difficult to grow heading south. I would think you were in a Z7- are you at a higher elevation?

St Lawrence specializes in varieties that do best in colder regions. Green Gage is difficult most anywhere but probably nearly impossible where you are.

Here in the Northeast, the only widely planted commercial variety is Stanley with the J. variety, Shiro, often produced by small market growers- although you can grow a fantastic range of plums and get fruit most years. That is still a clue on the relative difficulty of cultivating the fruit.

No European variety can be expected to crop well in four years in conditions I'm familiar with.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 5:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have a plum tree, every year it's loaded with fruit, could not be easier. I do in nothing to it but harvest.


    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 7:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Yes, Euros can take a long time to fruit, and Green Gage takes extra super long. Also as hman states Toka and La Crescent are cold weather plums. The cold weather plums have more pollination problems, nobody know exactly why but it has something to do with the fact that they are hybrids of many species.

My Purple Gage is over ten years old and I'm getting my first fruits on it this year. Don't try one of those :-)


    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 8:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sujiwan, I am sympathetic. My first plum an Italian prune plum took seven years before I had 22 plums that stayed on the tree. Harvestman is so correct, that Euro plums take a very long time to fruit. It has been nine years now, and my Mirabelles are fruiting. As is the Green Reine Claude and this summer the Italian plum has very few fruit. Probably because it had so many last year. Anyway. They take years. After three to four years I too was very disappointed. It is just how they grow. They take their time, but their fruit is really worth the 'patience'. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 8:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The Toka, La Crescent are in Adams County, PA--that's 6B and the others are in Carroll County, MD at 700+ ft elevation, also 6B although some say 7--I don't believe it.

I am thinking of adding a Stanley and making it a trio in MD and possibly add a Satsuma to the PA trees. Also get some of those native bees for the early/wet weather to increase pollination. I guess since plums aren't that long-lived, I thought they would produce earlier!

Is there a definitive resource (that gets updated with varieties) for choosing plums and their best pollinator companions? It isn't always clear which bloom at the same time--maybe the window of opportunity is shorter for pollination to be successful. I see a lot of plum varieties offered, but am not clear which to avoid and which to try for my area(s) of the MidAtlantic. The State U Ag websites don't cover all the plums offered.

MrsG47, thanks for the sympathy, I feel a tad better.


    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 10:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My sentiments, exactly. On my Euro prune plums (Empress and Long John) I finally had a crop last year after waiting 8 years from planting. This spring, after a bear of a winter, not one bloom! But dreams die hard. I just planted a Black Ice plum, hoping for more good things.


    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 10:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bennylafleur(6 E. Tn.)

The hard freeze in the spring was more than my plums could stand. On 6 trees I have a total of 2 plums


    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 12:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bennylafleur(6 E. Tn.)

The hard freeze in the spring was more than my plums could stand. On 6 trees I have a total of 2 plums


    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 11:19PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Fungus on grapes from last season?
Near the end of last season my grape plants got a fungus...
Blueberry help!
What's going on with this blueberry bush? Is it going...
what kind of fruit tree is this?
My guess is some type of peach, but the fruit is throwing...
bees ignoring my plum blossoms
I stood and watched but never saw any bees on my Santa...
Plum Tree Experts!!! Is this gonna turn into a fruit?
I have some buds on my plum tree that look like this. Do...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™