Long John finally produces

alan haighSeptember 30, 2010

Our long, dry and warm growing season produced an outstanding plum crop and Long John finally showed its stuff. At several sites the variety bore heavy crops of outstanding plums.

The flavor is not quite up to the finest of desert plums, even of its type but when allowed to get soft ripe the brix are there and it's very good. In fact the dry weather allowed it to almost turn into prunes on the tree and once the fruit begins to shrivel it gets a quality almost like a tropical fruit.

The huge size of the fruit and it's oblong shape make it just an amazing physical specimen. I'm sure it would be sought out by consumers at fruit stands.

I would still recommend Valor over it for its season (Valor's a few days later) even though Valor's fruit is not so amazing to look at. Its flavor is more complex and the plums are quite large, but more oval. My only complaint about Valor is that it gets more PC stings then any plum I grow. Best to leave half thinned in a low-spray program.

Actually I'm not ready to recommend LJ at all unless the trees I manage start to produce plums consistently from now forward. I'm hoping that the meager production of previous years was because the variety takes a long time to mature.

I do regret cutting down most of the LJ's in my nursery. It may have been premature.

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Hman, thanks for the report. When did you put in the Long Johns? My tree was planted in 2005, and still no fruit. I got a handful of Empress this year, but the later pickings were really good. Still nothing from my Ouillins, which Jim Cummins claimed is his favorite of all stone fruits. Your report of late picking has convinced me to delay picking as long as possible when my plums appear next year.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 9:59AM
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alan haigh

Marc, Oullins is wonderful (often called "best of its season"), but on Myro very slow to come into production IME, unlike Empress which seems born to fruit.

Empress is good, but even fully ripened doesn't quite get to that level I call exquisite in my limited experience with it. I'm putting a bearing age tree in my personal orchard anyway because it does such a good job of setting fruit and because I like its lateness. Valor is not quite as consistent of a bearer here, it seems.

The LJ's I'm writing about are probably 9 years old, but on Myro. What rootstock are yours on?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 10:34AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


I'd given up on Long John because I heard the flavor was mediocre. Now you have me interested in it again.

From a fruit stand perspective is the flavor still good if picked before it starts shriveling. I'm thinking it'd be hard to interest people when it starts to shrivel.

Also, can you talk a little more about the production issues - as Mark mentioned, precocity, cracking, bac. spot?

This plum sounds exciting. I loved seeing people blown away by really large fruit this summer (when I had it). But it has to taste good too.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 10:38AM
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theaceofspades(7 Long Island)

marc, surprised, here Oullins grows very fast for a Euro gage type plum.

Harvest, do you get yellow jackets on the LJ. The yellow jackets like sweet and late around here but this season everything was earlier and the y jackets missed it. I'll put LJ on my scion want list now, I avoided it based on earlier reports.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 1:31PM
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alan haigh

Olpea, the flavor was fine before they began to shrivel, just not top notch, but I really think they'd fly out of the box at a farm stand- they really are the most visually impressive prune plum I've ever seen. You do need to wait for flesh to turn amber like any Euro plum I grow.

Given that Cornell would not release a plum that is a shy or even very late(age wise) cropper I wonder what the story is with this one.

Ace, yellow Jackets weren't particularly hard on LJ but they were and continue to be tough this year. I trap mine out with concentrated apple juice and water 50-50 in a trap to adequately control them. Sometimes I put a 2 traps on a single tree which gets expensive in concentrate.

I'm having to trap them now to protect late apples. At least there are no pecking birds this year- at least at my site.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 2:29PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


I planted Valor last year. I think I'll give Long John a try as well.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 8:27PM
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Hman, checking my records, out of all the trees in my orchard, the LJ is the only one without mention of a rootstock. The tag must have come from Cummins without--I should have asked them for details back then. My Ouillins is on Myro, the Empress is on GF8-1. I plead ignorance when it comes to plum stocks.

One characteristic of my Empress and Long John: they both have a severe tendency to go vertical, even as I prune to outside buds. Makes for a tight form--not as open as I would like. I'm torn between taking out the wood on the inside with fruiting buds (not leaving much) or just letting it go. What's your experience?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 11:01PM
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alan haigh

I spread branches. I've seen old books where there were illustrations of plum branches pulled well below vertical in a method called festooning- sometimes I use this method to speed bearing. Generally I just spread them a bit above horizontal and remove oversized branches entirely. Maybe you should try festooning the LJ.

By oversized I mean branches more than half the diameter of the trunk where they are attached to the trunk. Proportionately larger diametered scaffolds remain vegetative for a longer period as a general rule. Of course there are times when such branches are all you have to work with.

Cutting to an outside bud is OK for peaches but delays bearing in Euro plums. Much better to cut back to a small branch if cutting is necessary at all. Otherwise you create a vegetative response that delays fruiting.

Never heard of GF-8-1. Myro is vigorous and slow to bear and probably what the Cummins plum came on.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 6:59AM
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do you sell cuttings for grafting?I live near Rochester ny,
and would like is possible get some plum cuttings from you.Ciao,

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 9:54AM
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alan haigh

Send me some kind of stamped and addressed envelope that I can put a ziplock with some plum pencils into and you can have them for free.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 8:08PM
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So what's the verdict? Did Long John fruit the next couple of years?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 9:11AM
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alan haigh

I got a decent crop last year after a deficient one previous season at site I wrote this about. I suspect that leafhoppers may be a problem affecting productivity. I seem to see a correlation to summer deinvigoration via LHs and a lack of productivity of a couple plum varieties.

In other words, I'm still sorting things out but have not quite given up on this one. It is such a beautiful looking plum. It is a very strange grower and best management of drooping spur wood is also a question in mature trees, but I figure that's mostly a matter of thinning it out- favoring younger, thicker spurs.

Right now it would not be my first choice in a later maturing prune plum but I won't be cutting any down. I think I've finally learned how to graft plums with a good success rate.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 9:42AM
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