[NAFEX] Plum Question

Dennis Norton dmnorton at royaloakfarmorchard.com
Thu Sep 21 12:39:20 EDT 2006

We have been growing apples, peaches, plums and pears here at Royal Oak Farm 
since 1992.  We have the same plum curculio issues you all seem to be faced 
with, but we use Assail for them with good success.  Since we are an IPM 
orchard, we try to control our pest with as little spraying as possible. We 
have no greater pressure on the plum trees than we do on the apples.  This 
year was especially heavy for PC, but Assail did do the job.  We also use 
Assail for codling moth and try to time the curculio spray with the codling 
moth spray.  Assail calls for a higher rate for curcullio so we use the 
curculio rate.  Granted, we use our data from our wireless weather station 
to give us the correct timing, but if you spray at plum petal fall that 
should take care of them.  Imidan is also good on curculio as well as 
codling moth.  Imidan is a contact spray and Assail has to be ingested. 
With Assail you will still see some strikes on the fruit, but  you will have 
to decide if that is acceptable.  Just thought I would toss in my 2 cents 

Dennis Norton
Royal Oak Farm Orchard
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jim Fruth" <jfruth at uslink.net>
To: "NAFEX" <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thursday, September 21, 2006 8:31 AM
Subject: [NAFEX] Plum Question

>    As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've been considering grubbing out 
> all of my plum trees because Curcullios ruin all the fruit.  After reading 
> Donna's post, below, I've decided that eliminating plums from my orchard 
> could spell disaster for the remaining fruits.  Donna, et. al., all talk 
> about Curcullio ruining their apples and peaches whereas I have no such 
> problem.  Perhaps, just perhaps, if I eliminated plum trees, Curcullios 
> would start ruining my peaches and apples.  I think I'll keep the plums.
> Jim Fruth
> Brambleberry Farm
> Pequot Lakes, MN  56472
> (218)568-8483 [Store]
> (218)831-7018 [My Cell]
> Jim,
>     I saw the opposite in east Tennessee, that curculio ate all the native
> plums but the Japanese varieties had very little damage.  One tree never 
> got
> any fruit past the hard green stage.  We were on a south facing slope, and 
> I
> wonder if it made the bugs more active than if we'd been on a cooler north
> slope.  In 1986 and 87 we had late spring freezes, so in 1988 there were
> very few curculio left, and we had a good crop of peaches.  Presumably the
> plums did better that year too.
>    POMONA reprinted an article I found in an old book, titled "Who Stole
> the Plums?"  The author told about a small orchard of red plums that lived
> out their lives and died without ripening any fruit, and a second orchard 
> of
> blue plums that replaced them and did no better.  He described the effects
> of curculio on the fruit, first the little ones falling and then the 
> larger
> ones.  His family gave up on them, fenced the orchard and put some calves
> and chickens in it.  The very first year they did that the trees cropped
> abundantly.  His reasoning was that when the calves rubbed on the trees, 
> the
> weevils dropped and the chickens picked them up.  Also, the grubs are
> vulnerable after the fruit falls, and probably again just before they are
> adults ready to fly.  I don't know if they dig down into the ground at 
> all,
> a scratching chicken might find them just below the surface.  I have 
> kicked
> myself for years for not putting all my stone fruits together in a grid so 
> I
> could run chickens under them.  But back to your question.  Are there many
> ground birds up in your area?  Grouse, quail, pheasants, that sort of 
> thing,
> and is it possible that the wild thickets sheltered such birds?  I'd think
> also that if every single dropped fruit was scarfed up by something, even
> cattle or deer, that the curculio would hard pressed to survive digestion.
> Now that I think of it, we had friends whose wild chickasaw plums cropped
> well whenever the spring frosts let them, and those trees were in a field
> with goats and chickens.  Fay had been out day after day looking for plums
> to drop and hadn't seen any yet.  She was quite puzzled about it.  The 
> goats
> were lying around the barn chewing their cud, and she saw one of them spit
> something out.  She looked and saw it was a plum pit, and then realized 
> the
> barn was littered with them.  So they kept the goats locked up every 
> morning
> till they'd collected plums.  Mind you, the presence of goats and chickens
> running loose on the place we were renting did nothing to improve the
> success of the existing plum trees.
>    Wild plum thickets hardly seem to crop at all in Tennessee anymore, but
> old people talk about how they used to pick lots of wild plums.  I pass 3
> plum thickets on my way to work, and one year in the last 12 years, one of
> those thickets had some plums on them.  I have 2 native seedlings, 12 
> years
> old, from two trees in local backyards, but it looks like the only way to
> get any fruit fit to eat will be to spray them.  The few fruit to ripen 
> are
> completely riddled with curculio.  The AU selections don't do much better.
> The myrobalans from Russia bloom too early, but the few that don't freeze
> seem to beat the curculios.  The European plums don't seem to grow at all, 
> I
> wonder if they suffer from scab?    Donna

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