[NAFEX] Plum Cracking: Is there anything which an be done

Penny White PlumHillFarm at gmavt.net
Sun Aug 22 18:08:38 EDT 2004

Hello, this summer (in Vermont) has been one of the wettest on record, and
has resulted in massive cracking of our plums and I was wondering if there
is anything I can do to reduce the extent of cracking for next year.
The worst varieties are Pembina (always cracks 80% loss 2004), Superior
(often cracks, Nearly 100% cracked), La Cresent, South Dakota, Underwood,
Anderson and Waneta, Ozark Premier (sometimes cracks), but this years even
the European varieties are cracking when green. Kahinta, Pipestone, Toka,
Kaga, Purple Heart, Peach Plum are relatively crack free.

Our Farm is on clay soil (which normally is very cracked at this time of
year), and the trees are irrigated with Drippers from a pond (not this year)
in Zone 4.

The extent of cracking appears to go down as the trees grow larger, the
first year the Pembina fruited, the plums opened so wide they looked like
flowers. Now the cracks are only 1/4-1/2" wide, and there are uncracked
plums toward the base of the branches which are usable. I think that the
roots are growing down further providing more steady water levels.

We are not setup to spray MgCl2 every time it rains like the cherry growers
do, and am wondering if there are nutritional lacks which may promote

In another vein, I originally planted my trees on 10'X15' centers, but now I
am removing trees from the rows because they are to crowded. I am now
planting on 14'X18' centers, and it is working well. The trees do grow big,
14' high and 20' wide.

 Our experience is if the Tokas and Kagas flower, the plums need to be
thinned to prevent branch breaking even though there is only 1 Toka or Kaga
per 100-150' row. If they don't flower well, there is slim pickings even in
the later blooming trees with intermingled branches. The Tokas and Kagas are
susceptible to early hard frosts, which the later blooming varieties can

The European varieties and peaches bloom later and are less susceptible to
low pollination.

Eric White, Zone 4, Vermont

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