Does it pay to keep my Methley plum any longer?

nick_b79(4/5 Southeast MN)May 4, 2014

I planted a semi-dwarf, grafted, bareroot Methley plum 4 years ago, and in that time it's gone from a 3-ft stick in the ground to a beautifully shaped 12-ft tree. I'm really impressed by how rapidly it has grown and how nicely it's shaped out.

That said, it has yet to flower, much less set fruit. What I've gathered from discussions here on Gardenweb is that, while the tree is leafbud-hardy in zone 4, the flower buds are not. I was really, really wanting a fruit-bearing tree as my ideal is an edible landscape yard.

It's also bleeding sap pretty badly this spring from a bark split on it's southern exposure that extends from the ground to 4 ft up the trunk.

Finally, it's infected with black or brown knot (not sure which exactly). I've been removing infected branches, but now I've found a golfball-sized knot on the primary leader halfway up the tree :-( I could remove it with a saw, but I'm worried that will weaken the branch. And since we're surrounded by wild plum, it will constantly be re-infected.

Is there anything left I can do, or should I give up at this point? Thanks.

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alan haigh

Don't be too disappointed- you rolled the dice, took a chance and now it's time to cut your losses, IMO. It was an experiment and because of Methely's high susceptability to black knot it seems it wouldn't be useful as stock for grafts even if it was hardy enough for your climate not to get cambium shakes and frozen flower buds. Better to start with a tree with known hardiness that you can graft your experiments to.

Here, in S. NY, Methely is not worth growing at many sites just by virtue of being the typhoid Mary of black knot. I actually am surprised that this weakness is rarely noted in the literature.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 4:59AM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

I just planted a methley. Is black knot more of a regional issue or can it happen anywhere? Anything i should do to prevent it. I'm in Tulsa OK zone 7a


    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 7:15AM
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Although my methley was a very healthy tree, I replaced it because, in my area, it's a poor excuse for a plum. It doesn't even pollinate other trees very well. I'd replace it and get something else.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 8:18AM
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I had Beauty and Methley fruiting at the same time, an overabundance of non-keeping fruit. Took a vote, and Methley won, everyone preferred it to Beauty.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:34AM
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nick_b79(4/5 Southeast MN)

The funny thing is, I bought the Methley in part because the catalog stated then (and still states in their newest one as of Winter 2014), and I quote:

"Resistant to Black Knot disease."

So, what the heck? All the reviews I've read of this particular company have been good, and they've always been very knowledgeable whenever I've called or emailed them.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:40PM
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alan haigh

Let me know who they are and I will attempt to enlighten them. I get a pretty good chance to evaluate relative resistance of cultivars because I manage so many orchards. Methely used to be a staple plum in my nursery so I'm still tending quite a few of them. It is the only variety of plum I've ever had to cut down because of being overwhelmed by BK at sites where I regularly cut it out.

It is still worth growing at some sites, IMO, because of the early fruit and it usually sets way too well.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 6:10PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I budded Satsuma to a number of trees and for the looks of it, i'm going to get some fruit. We dropped to -20F to -22F (3 times) over the winter... and below 0F almost 50 I'd say its pretty darn hardy.

I've only seen BK on my Alderman...and that was one branch maybe 4 years ago and it has yet to come back. I have seen it on wild plums (near my house there all over)...

What you might want to do is bud over a plum (peach/apricot?) with a few plum varieties and see what happens. That is what I've been doing with a Puget Gold apricot I have.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 6:52PM
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nick_b79(4/5 Southeast MN)

Well, Mother Nature made the final call for me. The Toka plum 10 ft away is loaded with flowers and leaf buds right now, while the Methley is just finally putting out a few pathetic leaves. At least half the crown is dead from winterkill; the branches snap right off.

So much for it being winter-hardy in zone 4 :-(

Well, time to get the chainsaw.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 3:44PM
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