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I've recently gotten a few European plum trees this fall. They can be used for fresh eating and dried to make prunes.

What are the best varieties that you've tasted?

             Vote in your post below or recommend a new variety!

List your favorite variety or varieties and why, and I will add it to the list here, with the ones with the most votes at the top.

I will also update the characteristics of the variety based on the responses.

 
  ...Best Tasting European Plum Varieties based on the comments below...


For Fresh Eating...

Green Gage (Reine Claude)- 3 votes very sweet and not very acidic, comes in both green and purple, green may be preferred, seedlings may be very similar to the parent


(source)

Damson- 2 votes smaller size, tangy and sweet


(source)

Victoria- -susceptible to silver leaf

Yakima- red-skinned with yellow-fleshed

Mirabelle- may need more water to produce a good crop than other plums, seedlings may be very similar to the parent

Luisa- very good nectarine flavor, may not be a vigorous grower

Čačanska Rana (Early)- (need additional info)

Najbolja (Best)- (need additional info)

Lepotica (Beauty)- (need additional info)

Rodna (Prolific)- (need additional info)

Italian Prune- (need additional info)


For Drying...

Italian Prune- (need additional info)


For Preserving...

Damson- makes good jam
COMMENTS:
 
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We've had good experiences with the Serbian "Čačanska" (from the city of Čačak) cultivars - Čačanska rana (early), najbolja (best), lepotica (beauty), rodna (prolific). Serbia, nowadays a sovereign country but formerly one of the republics of Yugoslavia, is traditionally a strong player in plum production and development.

These are important both on their own (they are very good cultivars) and as parents in still ongoing breeding programs. For example the (German, I think) modern "top" family (Top Hit, Top taste, Topper etc) are derived on one side from the Čačanska family. And "Top taste" really is, especially when fully ripe.
 
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My absolute favorite is "Victoria" it is susceptible to silver leaf. Reine claude is another very good one, it comes in both green and purple, green is better.
 
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Crt Jakhel wrote:We've had good experiences with the Serbian "Čačanska" (from the city of Čačak) cultivars - Čačanska rana (early), najbolja (best), lepotica (beauty), rodna (prolific). Serbia, nowadays a sovereign country but formerly one of the republics of Yugoslavia, is traditionally a strong player in plum production and development.

These are important both on their own (they are very good cultivars) and as parents in still ongoing breeding programs. For example the (German, I think) modern "top" family (Top Hit, Top taste, Topper etc) are derived on one side from the Čačanska family. And "Top taste" really is, especially when fully ripe.



I've heard about Serbia and their great plums, so cool! I saw a video about a traditional Serbian plum orchard, and it was like a permaculture orchard, with old traditional farming techniques. Very neat!

I'm going to look in to seeing if these are available here!
 
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I really enjoyed Yakima when I had some a couple years ago. I've only tasted it, don't know anything about the tree. It's a red-skinned, yellow-fleshed plum.
 
Jan White
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Oh and green gages. I love them.
 
Steve Thorn
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Skandi Rogers wrote:My absolute favorite is "Victoria" it is susceptible to silver leaf. Reine claude is another very good one, it comes in both green and purple, green is better.



Very neat! I had heard of both of these!

I recently got a Reina Victoria, that I think may be slightly different from the Victoria, but it's supposed to also have the great flavor!

Reine Claude is also called Green Gage right? I've heard that one is amazing too!
 
Skandi Rogers
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Steve Thorn wrote:

Skandi Rogers wrote:My absolute favorite is "Victoria" it is susceptible to silver leaf. Reine claude is another very good one, it comes in both green and purple, green is better.



Very neat! I had heard of both of these!

I recently got a Reina Victoria, that I think may be slightly different from the Victoria, but it's supposed to also have the great flavor!

Reine Claude is also called Green Gage right? I've heard that one is amazing too!



It is one greengage yes, but there are several types, I love them all.
 
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Steve Thorn wrote:I've heard about Serbia and their great plums, so cool! I saw a video about a traditional Serbian plum orchard, and it was like a permaculture orchard, with old traditional farming techniques. Very neat!

I'm going to look in to seeing if these are available here!



Steve, if you do find them please let us know, they sound great.  Also, if by any chance you run across that Serbian plum orchard video please post that video here in this thread...it also sounds great!  Thanks
 
Steve Thorn
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Skandi Rogers wrote:It is one greengage yes, but there are several types, I love them all.



I've heard the green gages produce almost true to seed, with the offspring very similar to the parents. I wonder if that's how there are so many good similar varieties in this family?!
 
Greg Martin
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I ran a quick google search for Serbia plum nursery United States and didn't get any hits so I went to the GRIN site to check the US germplasm collection and it returned 55 accessions from Serbia, several of which is says are available.  If you are interested in trialing any of them you could do a request as research.  GRIN  Just run a search on this page for Serbia and it will get you quickly to these accessions.  They do list having the cultivars listed below that Crt Jakhel mentions (plus one more from the US that also has the Cacanska name) as being in the national collection at Davis, CA, though not as currently available....but the good news is they are already here in the USA.  It might be worth e-mailing the folks at Davis to find out more about how to get these cultivars if you're interested in pursuing this.  Most of these folks are super helpful!  I'm going to do a bit more reading to see if I can learn more about whether or not they'd do well in zone 5 Maine (that alone could be a good research use....do a test evaluation and send them results....as well as post them here :)  )

Q 22625 CACANSKA LEPOTICA
Prunus domestica subsp. domestica
Former Serbia and Montenegro
DAV
Not Available

Q 22626
CACANSKA RANA
Prunus domestica subsp. domestica
Former Serbia and Montenegro
DAV
Not Available

Q 22627
CACANSKA RODNA
Prunus domestica subsp. domestica
Former Serbia and Montenegro
DAV
Not Available

Q 22628
CACANSKA SOCER
Prunus domestica
United States
DAV
Not Available
 
Greg Martin
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Uggh, not currently available for these plums seems to mean that they are no longer in the collection.  They were donated to the national collection in 1981 and got through quarantine in 1983.  They may still be somewhere in the USA but not sure.  They list the person who brought them and suggest contacting him, but a lot of years have passed.  Maybe it would be worth a try?  His contact info is still on file and he's listed as being at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station in West Virginia.  donor contact info
 
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Greg Martin wrote:Uggh, not currently available for these plums seems to mean that they are no longer in the collection.  They were donated to the national collection in 1981 and got through quarantine in 1983.  They may still be somewhere in the USA but not sure.  They list the person who brought them and suggest contacting him, but a lot of years have passed.  Maybe it would be worth a try?  His contact info is still on file and he's listed as being at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station in West Virginia.  donor contact info



Wow, such a shame they don't have them available anymore. Thank you for researching that Greg, and what a great tool in the above post. I'm excited to research into some other varieties on there!
 
Crt Jakhel
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Greg Martin wrote:CACANSKA SOCER



This is likely Čačanski Šećer (Čačak sugar).

http://www.institut-cacak.org/eng/sorteprikaz/25/cacanski-secer.html

The website above (in English) belongs to the research institute in Čačak, Serbia where those cultivars (and many others) were developed.

(Another of their widely established cultivars is the thornless blackberry Čačanska bestrna - Čačak thornless: http://institut-cacak.org/eng/sorteprikaz/46/cacanska-bestrna-html )

As to hardiness, I would expect Zone 5 to be fine - however, all the prunus family flowers early so if your area tends to be struck by late frosts, that's a problem.

It is unfortunate that fruit cultivars have such a hard time crossing the ocean. And it's not only the ocean - for example the UK has a quite different set of cultivars of various fruit than the continental EU and shipping is very expensive.
 
Crt Jakhel
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Now, about those late frosts... From what I've gathered so far, the following European plum cultivars are said to be somewhat-to-seriously tolerant of frosts when flowering: Pitestean (but taste may be questionable), The Czar, and Blue Tit. But that's just theoretical knowledge; at our place we just have the various Čačak cultivars and Top taste.
 
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Just got more interested in those Serbian plum varieties even more reading how our climates are both considered humid subtropical, though it appears the temperatures are colder there.

It would be interesting to see if they would be really well suited for parts of the colder mountainous South or New England! Maybe that's why he's growing them in the mountains of West Virginia?

Is it true that it's humid in Serbia?
 
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For drying as seedless prunes select for cling free seeds as it cling free peaches.  The prue plums on my old homestead are like that.  The green gauge seedlings that have been in our family for generations are not quite as difficult to separate from the seed as a mango. The yellow plums are sum what mixed in this characteristic. They seem to cross with the green gauge.
I would be happy to share seeds if you would like and there ar always seedlings coming up under the green gauge because it is so prolific and the mother tree is so tall not all of them get picked.
 
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I think you will be very happy with your gage, they are delicious.  If you can get your hands on a damson they are concentrated plum candy goodness.  Mirabelles are a great treat, however I find they need more water to produce a great crop than other plums -who wants substandard fruit from their own tree?  CA is in a drought so I had to not water the past couple of years and while the mirabelles are doing well the fruit definitely suffered.  Not so with any other type of plum.
 
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Greg Martin wrote:Uggh, not currently available for these plums seems to mean that they are no longer in the collection.  They were donated to the national collection in 1981 and got through quarantine in 1983.  They may still be somewhere in the USA but not sure.  They list the person who brought them and suggest contacting him, but a lot of years have passed.  Maybe it would be worth a try?  His contact info is still on file and he's listed as being at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station in West Virginia.  donor contact info



Unavailable means they don't have any seed currently, not that the trees are gone from the conservancy.
Right now because of the government shutdown, nothing is available for shipment, even the website is not being updated and won't be until the government is back open.

There are also several private fruit tree conservancies around the USA, try a search for Fruit Tree Conservators.
 
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Unavailable means they don't have any seed currently, not that the trees are gone from the conservancy.
Right now because of the government shutdown, nothing is available for shipment, even the website is not being updated and won't be until the government is back open.

There are also several private fruit tree conservancies around the USA, try a search for Fruit Tree Conservators.



Yeah, that's what I was thinking as well RedHawk, but then when I read the accession pages they had the following message on them: "Accession is not in the NPGS, contact the donor for availability. Historical record only. Please do not request this accession." This is the first time I've run across that message.  The good news is that it was in the US, so hopefully it still is and your advice about conservancies manages to locate them.  I have not followed up with the donor and think that would be a good place to start.
 
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Hans Quistorff wrote:For drying as seedless prunes select for cling free seeds as it cling free peaches.  The prue plums on my old homestead are like that.  The green gauge seedlings that have been in our family for generations are not quite as difficult to separate from the seed as a mango. The yellow plums are sum what mixed in this characteristic. They seem to cross with the green gauge.
I would be happy to share seeds if you would like and there ar always seedlings coming up under the green gauge because it is so prolific and the mother tree is so tall not all of them get picked.



Do you like the Green Gages or yellow plums for fresh eating?

I want to try a Green Gage really bad, I've never tried one, hoping to try one soon!
 
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gina kansas wrote:I think you will be very happy with your gage, they are delicious.  If you can get your hands on a damson they are concentrated plum candy goodness.  Mirabelles are a great treat, however I find they need more water to produce a great crop than other plums -who wants substandard fruit from their own tree?  CA is in a drought so I had to not water the past couple of years and while the mirabelles are doing well the fruit definitely suffered.  Not so with any other type of plum.



Do you like the Damsons for fresh eating?

I heard they were really good for preserves, but I decided not to get one this year, might have to get one soon if they are good for fresh eating too, I do like a tangy plum flavor!
 
Steve Thorn
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I found the video I mentioned above!

My memory was a little off, it was of Serbia's next door neighbor, Bosnia.

I love how the trees appear to not be pruned and the grass has not been mowed! The wildflowers are just amazing! It was funny to me when he said in his home country, it would be mowed every week!

He also talks about how it's scythe harvested every so often and fed to the pigs. Such a cool video to me!



I found this other one of an old traditional plum orchard in Greece that says it is a Fukuoka style orchard with probably non grafted trees, growing naturally, with an uncut understory, and the trees are left to fully mature and grow old.

 
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Back in the days i had a Servian friend who was wild about Slivovitz, the local moonshine. The slogan of the drink was, they got the coca ,they got the pizza, but we got Slivovitza! His dad made his own, his uncle and everybody made their own booze. Very strong drink.
I have gone to the local tip when i found out there is free compost years ago and a tree popped up. I thought it was a wild cherry but turned out to be a green gauge/reine Claude. Never any fruit, but this year was loaded with the best plums i ever ate! Did a little check on it and they seem to be quite close to the original plums and very easy to propagate from seed with little loss of the parents characteristics. Planted loads of seeds, hope they do keep their characteristics because of other plums closeby.
 
Hans Quistorff
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Steve Thorn wrote:

Hans Quistorff wrote:For drying as seedless prunes select for cling free seeds as it cling free peaches.  The prue plums on my old homestead are like that.  The green gauge seedlings that have been in our family for generations are not quite as difficult to separate from the seed as a mango. The yellow plums are sum what mixed in this characteristic. They seem to cross with the green gauge.
I would be happy to share seeds if you would like and there ar always seedlings coming up under the green gauge because it is so prolific and the mother tree is so tall not all of them get picked.



Do you like the Green Gages or yellow plums for fresh eating?

I want to try a Green Gage really bad, I've never tried one, hoping to try one soon!


Yes the green gage are best for fresh eating.  The yellow are good fresh but more starchy and easy to dry. The Italian prune plums are equaly good to eat fresh but also the easiest to split and dry. They are also the shade for our west porch therefore my wife's favorite.
 
Steve Thorn
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Hans Quistorff wrote:For drying as seedless prunes select for cling free seeds as it cling free peaches.  The prue plums on my old homestead are like that.  The green gauge seedlings that have been in our family for generations are not quite as difficult to separate from the seed as a mango. The yellow plums are sum what mixed in this characteristic. They seem to cross with the green gauge.
I would be happy to share seeds if you would like and there are always seedlings coming up under the green gauge because it is so prolific and the mother tree is so tall not all of them get picked.

Yes the green gage are best for fresh eating.  The yellow are good fresh but more starchy and easy to dry. The Italian prune plums are equaly good to eat fresh but also the easiest to split and dry. They are also the shade for our west porch therefore my wife's favorite.



Very cool!

I planted an Italian prune this year, looking forward to that in a few years!

 
Steve Thorn
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Hugo Morvan wrote:Back in the days i had a Servian friend who was wild about Slivovitz, the local moonshine. The slogan of the drink was, they got the coca ,they got the pizza, but we got Slivovitza! His dad made his own, his uncle and everybody made their own booze. Very strong drink.
I have gone to the local tip when i found out there is free compost years ago and a tree popped up. I thought it was a wild cherry but turned out to be a green gauge/reine Claude. Never any fruit, but this year was loaded with the best plums i ever ate! Did a little check on it and they seem to be quite close to the original plums and very easy to propagate from seed with little loss of the parents characteristics. Planted loads of seeds, hope they do keep their characteristics because of other plums closeby.



Yeah, I found that really interesting in the first video when he said, here they don't eat the plums as much, they drink them!
 
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Crt Jakhel wrote:Now, about those late frosts... From what I've gathered so far, the following European plum cultivars are said to be somewhat-to-seriously tolerant of frosts when flowering: Pitestean (but taste may be questionable), The Czar, and Blue Tit. But that's just theoretical knowledge; at our place we just have the various Čačak cultivars and Top taste.



Thanks Crt, yeah, we have really late frosts here a lot which has decimated my harvest the last two years. I'll have to check out those varieties!
 
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Mirabel ( de Nançy) ( Prunus domestica subsp. syriaca )
Fresh eating, conserve ,dried.
Love it fresh from the tree which is end July, early August.
I have this mirabel which is blessed with runners ( :( )
Not sure if its a true mirabel.
Got it from my father-in-law who had it since 1960.
Might be a under-stock which produces a similar fruit.
Size of fruits differs from plant to plant. Always yellow and sweet when ripe. Larger than the original mirabel. Sometimes equal in size.
In hot summers almost apricot-like.
Short lived ( 15 years ). More a bush than a tree. Max 6 meters high.
Not grafted. Own roots ( runners ). Not seeded.
But easy in maintenance. Ideal for chicken spout.
A very productive prune.
Can send plants if desired. When no fytosanitair certificates are required.

.
 
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dirk maes wrote:Mirabel ( de Nançy) ( Prunus domestica subsp. syriaca )
Fresh eating, conserve ,dried.
Love it fresh from the tree which is end July, early August.
I have this mirabel which is blessed with runners ( )
Not sure if its a true mirabel.
Got it from my father-in-law who had it since 1960.
Might be a under-stock which produces a similar fruit.
Size of fruits differs from plant to plant. Always yellow and sweet when ripe. Larger than the original mirabel. Sometimes equal in size.
In hot summers almost apricot-like.
Short lived ( 15 years ). More a bush than a tree. Max 6 meters high.
Not grafted. Own roots ( runners ). Not seeded.
But easy in maintenance. Ideal for chicken spout.
A very productive prune.
Can send plants if desired. When no fytosanitair certificates are required.



They sound delicious!

So neat that they reproduce easily from runners, I love when plants do that!
 
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My grandmother had a Damson on her old place on the Oregon Coast and the fruit were my favorite of all her plums (she had several).  They are a bit small, but delicious.

Kathleen
 
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:My grandmother had a Damson on her old place on the Oregon Coast and the fruit were my favorite of all her plums (she had several).  They are a bit small, but delicious.



Awesome Kathleen!

I've heard they have a good tangy favor, was that true for the ones you ate?

I've also heard they are famous for preserves. Did anyone ever make any good jam or other preserves from them?
 
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Steve Thorn wrote:

Kathleen Sanderson wrote:My grandmother had a Damson on her old place on the Oregon Coast and the fruit were my favorite of all her plums (she had several).  They are a bit small, but delicious.



Awesome Kathleen!

I've heard they have a good tangy favor, was that true for the ones you ate?

I've also heard they are famous for preserves. Did anyone ever make any good jam or other preserves from them?



They were tangy, but not excessively so (I like tangy -- one of the reasons I don't care much for the Japanese-type plums sold in the grocery stores is because they are too sweet and lack the tangy flavor).  Grandma used to make a lot of plum jam with them.  

Kathleen
 
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:They were tangy, but not excessively so (I like tangy -- one of the reasons I don't care much for the Japanese-type plums sold in the grocery stores is because they are too sweet and lack the tangy flavor).



I love tangy too, that's good to here. I find the ones in the store lacking the tanginess a lot of the time too.

Grandma used to make a lot of plum jam with them.  



That sounds delicious!
 
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I just noticed the comments above about green gage seedlings staying true to type, which I didn't know about before. That was good timing, because although the tree in our orchard is done for the season there were still a handful of stones on the ground beneath it from the ones the birds ate. So, I went out and grabbed them so I can stratify and plant over the winter.
 
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Phil Stevens wrote:I just noticed the comments above about green gage seedlings staying true to type, which I didn't know about before. That was good timing, because although the tree in our orchard is done for the season there were still a handful of stones on the ground beneath it from the ones the birds ate. So, I went out and grabbed them so I can stratify and plant over the winter.



That's awesome Phil, sounds like a great idea!

How would you describe the Green Gage taste? Do you grow any other varieties that you like?
 
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Hi Steve. We just got our first few GG plums this summer and they are strikingly different from all the other plums I've ever tried. They're amazingly sweet. Some people around here call them the "lollies of the fruit world" and I'd say that's a good description. Not very acid but still tasty.

The other plums we're growing include a seedling that came up under a Black Doris that succumbed to bacterial blast. It's quite different from the parent but it's a great tree to have, as it ripens way ahead of everything else in the orchard (late November/early December) and has big, juicy, mildly acid plums. It's also really healthy and unaffected by all the things that hammer plum trees in our area. It has deep purple foliage which is nice to look at and helps conceal the fruit a bit (we still have to throw a net over it as they start to ripen).

Then there's a Japanese variety that I grew from a cutting (not sure of the name) which has a somewhat problematic whippy growth habit but with big, super tasty, tangy fruit that come ripe around New Year's That tree always has trouble with the leaf roller aphid but they don't seem to hurt it much. It also gets lots of bladder plum. The long branches are a liability when they get laden with fruit and we get windstorms.

Next are the green and yellow gages, which are still getting established so not much production there yet. These seem to be healthy and trouble-free trees so far. No real sign of aphid, blight or bladder. I think these are the only European varieties we have at the moment.

Finally, there is the Luisa, which is the plum that wants to be a nectarine. We're just picking the last of these, and I think they started coming on about the beginning of the month. This tree is actually protected by a varietal patent, which is something I would ordinarily not want in my orchard, but it is a spectacular flavour. The tree isn't as robust as the others, also susceptible to the aphids and bladder.

My main rule with plums in this neck of the woods is to only prune them in the driest part of summer in order to avoid bacterial blast.
 
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This is an orchard I have visited many times, and they have an excellent rolling selection of plums that ripen through the season. It's in the UK, but their website has a pretty extensive list of plum varietals and their eating characteristics. I've found their descriptions of flavor to be pretty spot on.

http://www.pmfarming.co.uk/plums/
 
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Phil Stevens wrote:Hi Steve. We just got our first few GG plums this summer and they are strikingly different from all the other plums I've ever tried. They're amazingly sweet. Some people around here call them the "lollies of the fruit world" and I'd say that's a good description. Not very acid but still tasty.



Very neat!

The other plums we're growing include a seedling that came up under a Black Doris that succumbed to bacterial blast. It's quite different from the parent but it's a great tree to have, as it ripens way ahead of everything else in the orchard (late November/early December) and has big, juicy, mildly acid plums. It's also really healthy and unaffected by all the things that hammer plum trees in our area. It has deep purple foliage which is nice to look at and helps conceal the fruit a bit (we still have to throw a net over it as they start to ripen).



This is so encouraging to hear! I think it's awesome that the seedling is different from the parent, yet still good tasting, and super resistant to the main issues in your area. I am planning to plant a lot of seeds from my fruit harvest this year and hope to have some super vigorous and super tasty new fruit varieties soon also!

I think this is the way that people wherever they are can get low maintenance fruit trees that are specifically designed to do well in their area and produce tasty fruit. Thanks so much for sharing this!

Then there's a Japanese variety that I grew from a cutting (not sure of the name) which has a somewhat problematic whippy growth habit but with big, super tasty, tangy fruit that come ripe around New Year's That tree always has trouble with the leaf roller aphid but they don't seem to hurt it much. It also gets lots of bladder plum. The long branches are a liability when they get laden with fruit and we get windstorms.

Next are the green and yellow gages, which are still getting established so not much production there yet. These seem to be healthy and trouble-free trees so far. No real sign of aphid, blight or bladder. I think these are the only European varieties we have at the moment.

Finally, there is the Luisa, which is the plum that wants to be a nectarine. We're just picking the last of these, and I think they started coming on about the beginning of the month. This tree is actually protected by a varietal patent, which is something I would ordinarily not want in my orchard, but it is a spectacular flavour. The tree isn't as robust as the others, also susceptible to the aphids and bladder.



Awesome info Phil!
 
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Daniel Ackerman wrote:This is an orchard I have visited many times, and they have an excellent rolling selection of plums that ripen through the season. It's in the UK, but their website has a pretty extensive list of plum varietals and their eating characteristics. I've found their descriptions of flavor to be pretty spot on.

http://www.pmfarming.co.uk/plums/



Neat info Daniel!
 
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