[NAFEX] plum pollination

Kristina & Bruce herenorthere at lycos.com
Thu Feb 12 22:38:30 EST 2004

Here's my sad story of variety dependence.  I have a Golden Transparent Gage and a tree Raintree labeled Kirke's Blue, but instead is almost certainly whatever prune Raintree was selling in the mid 90s.  The fruit are long, have green flesh, and purple skin with a bluish bloom.  And taste like every prune I 've ever had.

The gage begins blooming only a couple days earlier than the prune, so there's a nice overlap during the bloom.  And the trees almost touch.  Yet, while the the gage sets a mindboggling amount of fruit year after year, the prune sets only a few.  And, by a few, I mean 4, 5, or, in a good year, maybe 7.  It's never had as many as 10.

I think it's safe to conclude the prune isn't self-fruitful and that the gage's pollen cannot pollinate the prune.  Golden Transparent Gages are supposed to be self-fruitful, so it's possible the gage and prune are completely incompatible.  If my ambition rises to the occasion, I'll go out with bags and paintbrushes and test them this year.

There isn't much left to test, though, because I re-worked most of the alleged Kirke's Blue to Mount Royal, Damson, and a "white" plum last year.  Raintree's sending an actual Kirke's Blue and I'm putting a piece of that on too because I have no room for another plum tree.  Maybe I'll test all of them and confuse myself even further.

Bruce Wittchen
1/2 mile outside Hartford, CT
Mystified by Plums, but Attempting to Understand Them 

>Plum pollination is complicated and mysterious and has never been described
>with any certainty.  It is a huge subject, in part because some Prunus
>species are at least partially if not wholly self-fruitful, while others are
>entirely dependent on cross pollination.  Also, Prunus is a rather large
>genus and while some of the its species will cross with other species, many
>are not compatible. Pollination of the various interspecic hybrids is a
>whole different subject.
>P. domestica ('European') plums are generally considered to be
>self-fruitful.  Your Coe's Golden Drop may not benefit from a second plum
>tree at any distance away.  However, some authors suggest that a second P.
>domestica variety (such as Stanley) planted somewhere near by could increase
>pollination. A hundred feet may be close enough.
>P. salicina ('Japanese') plums are generally considered NOT to be
>self-fruitful.  In this case, a second variety would be required.  And, a
>hundred feet would probably be too far away.  And, P.salicina and
>P.domestica are NOT compatible.
>Some authors (such as Hedrick, Plums of NY) suggest that plum pollination
>may even be variety-dependent.  In other words, two plums of the same
>species may or may not cross-pollinate even if the bloom times are
>My suggestion would be to find someone near you who has fruited a Coe's.
>Then plant whatever they did for pollination at that distance.  If they only
>have a Coe's, then do nothing!  If you are purchasing the tree, I would
>suggest that you contact the nursery for information although my guess is
>that they will be as confused as everyone else.  If they tell you something
>with any certainty, I'd ask them if THEY had fruited it themselves.
>John Bunker
>Attempting to Understand Plums
>Plum Interest Group
>Palermo ME 04354  

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