[NAFEX] Pluots in Nebraska

Douglas Woodard dwoodard at becon.org
Tue Sep 29 03:50:16 EDT 2009


Bill, it might be worthwhile to thin your Flavor Grenade considerably 
more next year and then see if it appears to ripen. Crop load can make a 
difference.

If that doesn't work maybe some sun-reflecting material (aluminum foil 
on a sheet of plywood?) underneath.

Doug Woodard
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

*****

William C. Garthright wrote:
> This is the result this year of my experiment with three pluot trees 
> (the first year I've had fruit) in Nebraska. It's pretty long, so now is 
> the time to hit that delete key, if you're not interested. :-)
> 
> I planted three pluots (semi-dwarf, on Citation rootstock) in the spring 
> of 2007:  Flavor Grenade, Dapple Dandy, and Flavor Supreme. I bought 
> them online from Adams Co. Nursery, and they arrived bare root and 
> dormant, good-sized little trees but with no branches. I'd never heard 
> of anyone growing pluots around here, and most of the people I know had 
> never even heard of pluots before. But I thought I'd give it a try.
> 
> They grew strongly - very strongly. It's been hard keeping them as small 
> as I'd wanted. They haven't had any problem at all with Nebraska's 
> climate (I'm in zone 5). They bloomed a bit one year after planting, but 
> didn't set on any fruit to speak of - and nothing that got past the 
> squirrels. (This year, I put an electric wire around them, which did 
> pretty well to keep the squirrels away.)
> 
> This year, the Flavor Grenade was the first to bloom, starting on April 
> 4th, just in time for a cold snap. The temperature dropped to 23° F. at 
> the airport a couple of miles away (might have been a bit warmer in my 
> yard). That killed all of the blossoms and buds on my apricot trees, but 
> it didn't seem to have any effect on my blooming Japanese-American plums 
> or on this pluot. But it might have had some effect on the other two 
> pluots. At least, they didn't start blooming until 11 days later, and 
> they didn't have a whole lot of blossoms even then.
> 
> The Flavor Grenade ended up setting on a ton of fruit. I mean, it was 
> just solid with fruit. I thinned them a little bit, but not much (not 
> enough, I suspect), and the tree dropped some fruit in July. But there 
> was still a LOT of fruit on it, and they were quite large, too. The 
> other two, which bloomed late, set on much less fruit. The Flavor 
> Supreme set on only three fruit (and I knocked one of them off the tree 
> while mowing the lawn). The Dapple Dandy set on maybe two dozen or so 
> pluots. I had some fruit drop with that one, too, and birds destroyed 
> some, so I didn't get an accurate count.
> 
> OK, as far as ripening goes, the Flavor Supreme took me by surprise. 
> Remember, this was one of the late blooming pluots, and the tree with 
> only two fruit on it. On July 15th, I was walking past and noticed that 
> one of the fruits was dead ripe. It had split at the bottom, and I don't 
> think it would have lasted another day. But it was incredibly delicious 
> - one of the best fruits I've ever eaten. It was red-fleshed, sweet, but 
> not too sweet, and fruity (grocery store pluots I'd eaten were sweet, 
> but didn't have much fruit taste). This one really tasted like a fruit - 
> like a sweet plum, but better.
> 
> I picked the other pluot on the tree five days later. It didn't seem to 
> be quite ripe, but the birds had been pecking holes in it, and it was 
> raining, so I didn't think it would last any longer. It was good - sweet 
> - but it didn't have the really great taste of the first one. I just 
> didn't think it was completely ripe (but after my experiences with the 
> other two varieties, I've got to wonder).
> 
> The other two pluot varieties seemed like they'd never get ripe. They 
> looked "almost ripe" for a month or more. (Note that we had an unusually 
> cool July and August this year.) I still don't know when I should have 
> picked them. I netted the Flavor Grenade when the birds started pecking 
> them, but I didn't think there were enough pluots on the Dapple Dandy to 
> bother (there were actually more than I thought).
> 
> The birds still got inside the netting pretty regularly, and they poked 
> holes in a lot of the pluots. And I started losing more and more of them 
> to rot (black rot, I think). With the pluots, I didn't have any insect 
> problems at all, but the rot just got worse and worse. I was picking 
> them up off the ground all the time (cutting the rot off and trying to 
> eat the good bits). They were always sweet, right from the start, but 
> they just didn't seem... ripe.
> 
> Anyway, I finally picked them all in early to mid-September. I was just 
> losing too many of them. By then, I was down to maybe three of the 
> Dapple Dandy. All the rest had rotted (although I'd eaten parts of 
> several of them). This pluot is another red-fleshed variety, but I'm not 
> sure I ever ate one that was appropriately ripe. They didn't seem ripe, 
> anyway. They weren't as sweet as the others, but they were sweet enough 
> to eat. But they seemed green. They weren't completely red inside, they 
> were hard, and they just didn't SEEM ripe.
> 
> I ate the last one today, after it had been in the refrigerator awhile 
> (and then back out on the counter for a couple of days). This one seemed 
> to be somewhat over-ripe. It was slightly soft, and all scarlet inside. 
> But it wasn't especially sweet (I noticed with the next variety that it, 
> too, loses sweetness when it gets too ripe). I just don't know. I was 
> eating these things for a month, but I couldn't seem to catch them at 
> the right stage of ripeness.
> 
> The last variety (the first to bloom), the Flavor Grenade, is a 
> yellow-fleshed pluot. It seems very much like a large, very sweet plum. 
> As I say, the tree was just loaded with fruit, and they were all big and 
> looked great. But they sat for a month without seeming to get any riper. 
> And then I started losing more and more of them to rot. I was sampling 
> them all that time, and they were very sweet - very, VERY sweet - but 
> not much else. Again, they didn't SEEM ripe.
> 
> After I picked them, I gave most of them away, and people told me they 
> really liked them. To me, they seemed to be extremely sweet, but with 
> little "fruit" flavor. Admittedly, I'd eaten so much fruit by then that 
> I was getting really tired of... pretty much everything. Maybe that was 
> my problem with them. I kept thinking that they needed to ripen more, 
> but when I let them sit until they got just slightly soft, they were too 
> ripe. At that point, they actually lost their sweetness (except for one 
> individual pluot that got soft and then became so sweet that it was like 
> eating pure sugar). They weren't terrible, but I just didn't like them 
> much. Still, as I say, when I gave them away, people raved about them 
> (and usually, when I give away fruit, I never hear a word back).
> 
> In summary, the Flavor Supreme ripened very early (perfect timing, 
> because none of my peaches or plums were ripe by then) and at least one 
> of them was possibly the best fruit I've ever had. But I only got two of 
> them from the whole tree.
> 
> The Flavor Grenade ripened much, much later (like two months after the 
> Flavor Supreme), and it was just loaded with fruit. Really, it was 
> remarkable how much fruit - large, beautiful pluots - were on that one 
> tree. Plus, cold temperatures didn't seem to bother the blossoms at all. 
> But I didn't much like the taste of them. They were very, very sweet, 
> but... not much else. (Other people did like them, though.)
> 
> The Dapple Dandy ripened very late, like the Flavor Grenade, but it 
> didn't set on much fruit. I thought I would like this red-fleshed 
> variety better than the yellow-fleshed one, but I didn't actually eat 
> one that was especially good. It wasn't as sweet as the others. Of 
> course, I didn't have very many of them, not at all. It seemed like this 
> variety was the most susceptible to black rot.
> 
> Sorry about the length of this, but I thought the details might help if 
> someone else was trying to decide about these pluots. This is my first 
> year with fruit, so I can't say how much the weather affected things. I 
> guess I'll see what happens next year.
> 
> Bill
> Lincoln, NE (zone 5)
> 
> PS. I'd be interested in comments about the taste of these three 
> varieties, if you're familiar with them. I still don't know what to think.
> 



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