Falling plums

Discussion in 'Fruit and Nut Trees' started by Pauline Allsop, Aug 18, 2004.

  1. Pauline Allsop

    Pauline Allsop Member

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    Location:
    Blandford, Nova Scotia
    We have a plum tree that is covered in blossoms in the spring; each year, as summer starts, there are lots of plums developing. Then later in the summer. almost all of the plums drop off, or in some cases are blown off by relatively moderate winds. Can anyone tell us why this happens, and what we could do to prevent it?
     
  2. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Hi Pauline:

    Can you tell me what variety of Plum you
    have? How do you water your tree and how
    often do you water? Do you fertilize your
    tree, if so, what kind of fertilizer do you use
    and what time of the year do you fertilize
    and how much fertilizer is applied to your
    tree? If you can, tell me about your growing
    conditions.

    Depending on what kind of Plum you have
    fruit drop is a normal occurrence. It is the
    trees way of thinning itself when we have
    not tried to thin the fruit ourselves. Juvenile
    as well as mature fruit can fall off the tree
    very easily if we have too many Plums on
    the tree to start with. Thinning the tree is
    the best preventative but you also may have
    a nutrient deficiency that can cause a lot of
    fruit to fall off the tree. Also, lack of water
    can be a major concern which can lead to
    excessive and premature fruit drop.

    Jim
     
  3. Pauline Allsop

    Pauline Allsop Member

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    Location:
    Blandford, Nova Scotia
    I'm not sure of the exact variety, but the plums are relatively small, green when unripe, and yellow when ripe; they are very sweet and tasty. The tree is about 20 years old, but the problem only began about 4 years ago. The plums fall off the tree when they are still green and hard, so that we only get a few (maybe 10-12) that make it to ripeness.
    We haven't been in the habit of watering, since we live in a fairly rainy area on the coast of Nova Scotia (even when it's not actually raining, it's often foggy). Our neighbours have a similar tree, and they seem to get lots of plums. I asked them if they water, and they told me they don't.
    Thanks for replying to my query; any advice you can give will be most welcome.
     
  4. ewenx

    ewenx Member

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    Location:
    Vinalhaven, Maine
    Falling Prune Plums

    Mr. Shep, I also have a similar problem with my prune plum tree. Our situation in in Coastal Maine sounds very similar to that of Miss Allsop - fairly frequent rain fall, a lot of fog. I have fertilized the tree with 5/10/5. I would appreciate any help you can provide.
     
  5. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    San Joaquin Valley, California
    I think both of you will need to thin the fruit on your
    trees in the future. We start to thin the fruit here
    in late March as our Methley and Santa Rosa Plums
    are ready for picking by early to mid June. We will
    thin out the misshapen, the undersized and any scarred
    fruit in order for the fruit we want to harvest to get
    some size to them.

    I think with your weather conditions both of you will
    have to start thinking in terms of using a copper or
    calcium based dormant spray as the blossoms are
    starting to swell in the Spring but you will need
    about 48 hours of no moisture, fog, drizzle or rain
    for the sprays to be effective.

    Pauline: I suggest you try to get a copy of this if
    you can.

    http://www.cbsc.org/ns/english/display_lib.cfm?Code=163186&coll=NS_Lib_Coll_E

    Sometime tell me if you see anything like this on your trees.
    This disease can severely affect your production of Plums
    where both of you are.

    http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/pp/extension/tfabp/blknstf.shtml

    http://pmo.umext.maine.edu/factsht/blknot.htm

    If a disease is not causing your fruit to drop prematurely
    and the tree is not shedding itself of fruit that it feels it
    needs to let go of then I suggest you thin some of your
    fruit right now if you can to protect the majority of the
    Plums. It could very well be that neither of you are
    getting enough sunlight to sustain your Plums normal
    growth. When that happens the fruit will be sloughed
    off rather easily, even a mild wind can make the fruit
    fall off the tree. For me to pinpoint what is causing
    the excessive fruit drop, both of you, or one of you
    will have to give me more information to go on.

    Let me ask both of you this, is there any selectivity
    of the fruit that is falling off as opposed to what is
    being left on the tree? Are the misshapen fruit or the
    fruit that is coloring up first being sloughed off first
    and the larger, normal fruit being left alone for the
    most part and are being left on the tree?

    Jim
     
  6. ewenx

    ewenx Member

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    Location:
    Vinalhaven, Maine
    Jim, thanks for the information.
    The plums that have fallen are just starting to turn from green to purple-they seem to be in perfect shape except that they are far from ripe.

    When you suggest "thinning the fruit" does that imply pulling off the individual plums where appropriate?

    Lastly, I see no signs of Black Spot.
     
  7. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Hi Ewenx:

    The Black Knot would probably be your worst fear
    for a disease. It can cause an entire crop to fall off
    the tree prematurely where you are.

    Not so much in commercial operations but in home
    gardens, we do see Plums that are just starting to turn
    color fall of the tree long before they are ripe. It is
    quite common with the American and Japanese Plums.
    Can you give me an estimate as to the number of Plums
    that have fallen as opposed to the number left on the
    tree? Are we talking about a bumper crop in which a
    few dropped Plums will not make much of a difference
    to the entire crop as a whole or is it that normal and
    good sized Plums are being sloughed off and Plums
    not as good are being left on the tree? The reason I
    asked is that in cooler climates such as yours the
    earliest fruit to set can be the first fruit to be sloughed
    off by the tree. Even more so true when you are not
    getting ample amounts of sunlight.

    In home gardens it is essential to thin the number
    of fruit that have set. Once the fruit generate some
    size and there are too many Plums on a branch we
    risk breakage of the branch, unless the limb is staked
    or propped up, which causes us much greater problems
    for the immediate future.

    Tell me as much as you can about your tree. Post
    some pictures of it if you can and I'll see what I
    can do to help.

    Jim
     

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