Plum Varieties Taste Best

Of all the stone fruits, plums are the most varied. They range from hardy little cherry plums and sand cherries to hybrids with the hardiness of natives, sweet European plums (and the prunes made from them), and sweet or tart Japanese plums.

European plums tend to be small, and most varieties are egg-shaped. The flesh is rather dry and very sweet. Prunes from these plums are the sweetest and easiest to dry. The plants are fairly-

hardy, but some varieties do well in mild-winter areas. All varieties are self-pollinating, except for those noted.

Japanese plums have relatively large, soft, and juicy fruit, sometimes with tart flesh near the pit. The plants are the least hardy of the various kinds of plum, although selected varieties are grown in the milder northern regions. Taste one to test for ripeness before you harvest. Most Japanese plums need cross-pollina-tion. Exceptions include 'Santa Rosa', 'Methley', 'Beauty', and 'Climax', but all plums set fruit better with a pollinator. Most are very susceptible to bacterial leaf spot in the South and East. Some resistant varieties are listed and rated by local extension agencics. Check with your farm advisor or nursery.

Plum trees bear for 10 to 15 years or more, and standard plum trees take space. Expect your tree to fill an area 15 to 20 feet square. Bush and cherry plums reach 6 feet or so and may spread as wide or wider. A dwarfed European plum on Nanking cherry roots will get as tall as 10 to 12 feet in height.

All the large-fruit Japanese plums must be thinned five to eight weeks after bloom. Thin fruit, to 4 to 6 inches apart. European plums should have clusters thinned to two or three fruit per spur. The young trees should be pruned as discussed on page 49. Bush varieties need their oldest shoots trimmed off at ground level after about four years of bearing to encourage new growth.

Tree plums don't lend themselves to confinement, so use bush types if your space is limited. Use bush types as shrubby screens or try them in containers.

Brown rot is a major concern and requires summer spraying. See page 34. Bacterial leaf spot is a serious problem for most Japanese plums in the South and the East, but it is not a problem on other types of plums. Japanese types do best in the West; European types are best in the East; and bush types grow well in the South, Midwest, and North.

Early Varieties

  • Bruce' This large Japanese plum has red skin, red flesh, and good flavor. The fruit matures early, ripening in June. The tree bears young and heavily. Use 'Santa Rosa' as a pollinator. Good for the North and South. Origin: Texas.
  • Early Golden'
  • Earliblue' This European blue plum has tender, green-yellow flesh resembling 'Stanley' but softer. Production is moderate, but fine for the home garden and the tree is hardy. It is best planted in the North, and ripens in mid- to late July in Michigan. Origin: Unknown.
  • Early Golden' A round, medium-sized Japanese plum, it is yellow and of fair quality. The stone is small and free. The tree is vigorous, outgrowing other varieties, but it has a tendency to bear in alternate years. Thin carefully. Pollinate with 'Shiro' or 'Burbank'. The fruit ripens in Michigan in mid-July. Good for the North. Origin: Canada.
  • Mariposa' The large, heart-shaped, Japanese fruit has mottled red and yellow skin enclosing sweet, red, freestone flesh. Fruit is good both for eating fresh and for cooking. The ripening time is mid-July. Because of its low-chill requirement (only 400 hours below 45° F), this is good choice for the mildest winter climates. For pollinators use 'Late Santa Rosa', 'Santa Rosa', or 'Wickson'. Origin: California.
  • Methley' This small to medium-sized Japanese fruit is reddish purple with red flesh and excellent flavor. It ripens over a long period, requiring several pickings. The tree is upright with hardy flower buds. For better crops pollinate with 'Shiro' or 'Burbank'. The fruit ripens in Michigan in mid-July, earlier in the South. Good for the North. Widely available. Origin: South Africa.
Methley Plum Tree Buds Thinning

'Burbank'

Wickson Plum
  • Santa Rosa'
  • Green Gage'
  • Santa Rosa'
  • Green Gage'
  • Santa Rosa' This popular large Japanese plum has deep crimson skin. Its flesh is purplish near the skin and yellow streaked with pink near the pit. It is good for dessert or canning. Use any early or mid-season plum for improved pollination. The fruit ripens in California in mid-June, later in the North. Good for all zones. Widely available. Origin: California.

Early Midseason

  • Abundance' This purple-red Japanese plum has tender yellow flesh that softens quickly. It is good for dessert or cooking. The tree tends to bear every other year. Use 'Methley' or 'Shiro' as a pollinator. The fruit ripens in Michigan in late July. Good for the North. Origin: California. 'Satsuma' This is a Japanese plum with red juice. The meaty fruit is small to medium, with a dull, dark red skin, mild red flesh, and a small pit. Use it. for dessert or preserves. Use 'Santa Rosa' or 'Wickson' as a pollinator. Good for all zones. Widely available. Origin: California.
  • Shiro' This medium to large Japanese plum is round and yellow and has a good flavor. Use it fresh or for cooking. The tree produces heavily. Use 'Early Golden', 'Methley', or 'Santa Rosa' as a pollinator. The fruit ripens in early July in California and the South, in late July in Michigan. Good for all zones. Widely available. Origin: California.

Midseason Varieties

  • Burbank' This large red Japanese plum has amber flesh of excellent flavor. The trees are fairly small and somewhat drooping. Use the fruit for canning or dessert. Use 'Early Golden' or 'Santa Rosa' as a pollinator. The fruit ripens in early August in the Northwest and in mid-July in California. Good for all zones. Widely available. Origin: California.
  • Damson' This old European plum is derived from a different species than other European plums. The smallish blue fruit is best for jam, jelly, and preserves. Improved varieties include 'Blue Damson', 'French Damson', and 'Shropshire Damson'. The trees are small and self-pollinating, and the fruit ripens at the end of August or in September. It is a late plum in the North. Good for all zones. Widely available. Origin: England. 'Green Gage' ('Reine Claude') The greenish yellow European fruit has amber flesh and is good fresh, cooked, or preserved. The trees are medium sized and self-pol-linating. The fruit ripens in mid-July, later in the North. Good for all zones because it has a low-chill requirement and is cold hardy. Widely available. Origin: Unknown. 'Ozark Premier' This extremely large, red Japanese plum has yellow flesh. The trees are disease resistant, hardy, and productive. The fruit ripens early in August.

Good for the North, Midwest, and South. Widely available. Origin: Missouri. 'Queen Ann' The large, freestone purple fruit has golden orange flesh. The combined qualities of juiciness, rich flavor, and no tartness at the pit make it an esteemed Japanese dessert plum. The fruit ripens in mid-July. The tree is less vigorous than other Japanese plums. Use 'Santa Rosa' as a pollinator. Origin: California.

'Stanley' The most widely planted European plum in the East, Midwest, and South, this tree has large, dark blue fruit with firm, richly flavored yellow flesh. It bears heavily every year, is hardy into central Iowa, and is self-pollinating. The fruit ripens after mid-August, into September in northern regions. Good for the North. Widely available. Origin: New York.

Italian Yellow PlumsPlum Cultivars South Africa Wickson
  • Yellow Egg'
  • Italian Prune'

very young and proliiically. Use 'Toka' as a pollinator. Origin: Minnesota. 'Toka' This large, pointed fruit is medium red, and often described as apricot colored. The flesh is firm and yellow with a rich spicy flavor. The tree is a spreading, medium-sized heavy producer, but it may be short-lived. Use 'Superior' as a pollinator. Origin: Minnesota.

  • Underwood' This very large, red, freestone plum has golden yellow flesh that is somewhat stringy but of good dessert quality. Ripening extends over a long season beginning in July. The tree is vigorous and among the hardiest. Use 'Superior' as a pollinator. Origin: Minnesota. 'Waneta' This is a large, tasty, reddish purple plum with yellow flesh. Use 'Superior' as a pollinator. Origin: South Dakota.
  • Yellow Egg'
  • Sugar' This very sweet, dark blue European plum is fairly large and excellent for home drying and canning. The trees are self-pollinating and bear in alternate years, with light crops in off years. The fruit ripens after July 15. Good for all zones. Origin: California.
  • Yellow Egg' This golden yellow European plum has a thick skin and yellow flesh. The round-topped, vigorous tree is hardy and productive. In the West the tree is planted in Washington. It. is self-pol-linating, and the fruit ripens in late August. Good for the North and West. Origin: Unknown.

Late Varieties

  • Bluefre' This large blue European freestone has yellow flesh. The trees are vigorous and self-pollinating and bear young. The fruit ripens early in September and hangs on well after ripening. It has some sensitivity to brown rot. Good for the North. Origin: Missouri.
  • French Prune' The small European fruit is red to purplish black and very sweet with a mild flavor. This is the main prune variety in California. The tree is large and long-lived, often surviving even after orchards have become housing developments. It is self-pollinating, and the fruit ripens in late August to September. Good for the South and West. Widely available in California. Origin: France. 'Italian Prune' ('Fellenberg') This dark blue European plum is very sweet and good for dessert, canning, or drying. It has been the major plum of the Washington-Oregon area. The fruit ripens in late August and September. Good for the South and West. Widely available. Origin: Germany. 'Late Casselman' and 'Late Santa Rosa' These firm, late-ripening Japanese plums resemble regular 'Santa Rosa' in tree shape and appearance of fruit, but the fruit is sweeter and much firmer. They mature six weeks later than 'Santa Rosa'. Origin: California.
  • Italian Prune'
  • President' This large, dark blue European fruit has amber flesh and ripens very late, after other plums. It lacks outstanding flavor, but use it for winter cooking or canning. Use another late European plum as a pollinator. The fruit ripens in Michigan at the end of September. Good for the North. Origin: England.

Hardy Plums

These plums were especially selected and bred for the coldest northern and Great Plains climates.

  • Pipestone' This large red fruit has tough skin that is easy to peel. The flesh is yellow and of excellent quality but somewhat stringy. The tree is vigorous and hardy, performing reliably in cold regions. Use 'Toka' or 'Superior' as a pollinator. Origin: Minnesota.
  • Superior' This large, conical red fruit with russet dots and heavy bloom has yellow, firm flesh that is excellent for eating fresh. The tree bears
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Responses

  • kathrin
    Is the maraposa plum self polinating?
    8 years ago
  • Goldilocks
    What is the sweetest european plum?
    8 years ago
  • Mitchell
    Is yellow egg plum plant european variety?
    7 years ago
  • chester pitts
    Which plum taste best?
    7 years ago
  • Melissa
    Where to buy Italian yellow prune plum?
    7 years ago
  • THOMAS
    Are plum nuts poisonous?
    7 years ago
  • Niklas
    What are the best tasting plum varieties?
    6 years ago
  • jauho
    Which is sweeter methley or santa rosa?
    5 years ago
  • james
    Which plum tastes better methley or superior?
    5 years ago
  • Abby
    What are the most popular plum varieties?
    5 years ago
  • petronio
    Which plum varieties taste best?
    4 years ago
  • Shay Sutherland
    Which plum is sweeter santa rosa or methley?
    3 years ago
  • sesuna
    What are the best tasting plums?
    2 years ago
  • heli m
    What is the firmness of plum variety Wickson pdf?
    2 years ago
  • Wilma
    What are the best sweetest plums?
    5 months ago

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