plums for coastal N. CA?

alan haighOctober 3, 2012

My sister lives north of Eureka a short walk from the beach in redwood country. J. plums there don't get sweet enough as days are usually foggy and temps often remain in the 60's throughout the growing season.

At my suggestion she's planning on trying a couple of Euro plums but I really don't know what will do well there and wonder if anyone has experience here growing a range of plums in a similar climate. Right now we're thinking English varieties might be the best bet given a somewhat similar climate there. Ideas?

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Send a note to Axel or post your question on his website. He has more experience in that type climate than anyone else I'm aware of.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 12:20PM
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alan haigh

FN, Santa Cruz is about 350 miles south of my sisters place and gets quite a bit more heat- especially up in the hills where Axel is, but could you direct me to his site?

Thanks a lot.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 1:14PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I know the climate you are talking about. Basically highs in the 60s, maybe low 70s, all year long. A much better climate for berries than plums. But parts of Europe aren't much different so I think you are on the right track.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Cloudforest Gardener

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 2:35PM
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Yes, Santa Cruz will have madrone, manzanita, and other semiarid climate plants. Eureka is basically the UK. If you don't find anything better, I would consult a UK nursery web site for suitable types. But there are plums there on the coast, and they even make it without spray.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 9:38PM
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You might check Raintree's site. That's what I do when I am thinking about stone fruit for cool, coastal climates. They offer a large variety of European plums, a smaller number of Japanese/hybrids, and even some Russian plums for northern climates.

The catalog (and website) often indicates which varieties have actually ripened reliably at the nursery.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 10:47PM
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alan haigh

Yes, I've been looking over Raintree, but I wish for even more choices. I'd like something that would ripen into early Oct with highest sugar. Warmest weather there is in Sept-early Oct. I don't like the root selection of Raintree and would like full vigor as she has plenty of room.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 11:35PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I lived for 40 years in Watsonville on the Monterey bay in California. The Pajaro valley, open to the sea is cool enough to grow lettuce and strawberries all summer. One local farmer put in about 10 acres of plums which did well for the first two years of production, encouraging other farmers to put in plums, over their normal apples. Within 10 years all plums were removed. The bad crop years outweighed the good. If global warming is a fact, maybe some optimistic farmer may try again, but not the same farmer. Al

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 8:46AM
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alan haigh

I know Watsonville and it's warmer than the coast 300 miles up from there. The one advantage is my sister aint growing for money and a commercial grower has to compete with growers inland so I can see how they wouldn't be able to compete, even if their trees usually had an adequate crop of good fruit. So the question is, were off years just not profitable or was the fruit itself non-existent or bad quality?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 10:22AM
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There may not be as many options as you would like. Here in Los Osos it is a hot day if we make it into the 70's during the Summer and we are often fogged in totally with temps in the 60's. What is classed as "early" by mainstream growers may not ripen here until late summer and those which are classed as "late" will simply never ripen--not enough heat units. I'm not all that familiar with the climate in Eureka, and it's probably colder in the Winter, which is a good thing for chill, but you need to be realistic and remember that "early" or "midseason" could easily mean "late" in the area. "Late" could mean "never".

It would be helpful to talk to others in the immediate area to see what has worked for them. Microclimates, heat pockets, south-facing exposures, etc., can all be helpful, but sometimes the selection of what will actually work is not that great.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 11:24AM
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alan haigh

So maybe she should start with Methely as a J. plum and Oullins as a possibility for a European. Perhaps an early Italian or French prune plum as well because they keep getting sweeter until they turn to prunes.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 2:34PM
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You might also take a look at this report for maritime western Washington state:

Plums start on p. 10. Methely is the first J. plum listed. Beauty is second. There is also a list of European plums that have done well in the past.

A more comprehensive set of stone fruit reports for maritime Washington is here:

Again, microclimates vary, but surely some of these varieties would be good bets.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 5:52PM
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alan haigh

Thanks for your help Steve. I went ahead and ordered her an Oullins plum even though it is not recommended in any of the lists you mention. The green fruit will discourage birds and it is a very early E. plum that has been cultivated in England I believe. I'll try to get my sister to graft on some other varieties in a few years and she can find out herself what works best for her.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 6:35PM
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