Plum trees do well in a clay loam or sandy loam soil with at least one meter of soil below. A wet or hard grey soil is undesirable as the roots will suffer and die back can occur.
North or east facing slopes are ideal location for early blooming trees because delayed flowering time will aid in avoiding early frosts which can kill flowers. This type of orientation can also help prevent sunscald.
Providing a shelterbelt on all sides of the orchard is essential in trying to modify your growing environment by reducing the flow of harsh winds. Shelterbelts also trap snow cover and can provide greater protection to the roots, as well as providing added moisture in the spring.
PFRA SHELTERBELT CENTER - Ideas and Tree Sources For Shelterbelts
Planting & Establishing
Work the soil the year before planting trees. Plant a green crop and till into soil which helps make sure the area is weed free. Plant trees at 2-4 meters apart in rows depending on the system and which root stock used.
Young fruit trees will need irrigation for the first 3 years until they have established a proper root system.
Pruning & Training
Pruning in northern areas should be done in late winter or early spring in order to avoid winter injury. Summer pruning makes the tree vulnerable to diseases. One year trees should be headed back in the spring to encourage production of a strong and healthy main branch which will act as the central leader. The central leader system should be maintained each year by removing competitive leaders and excessive side branching. Removal of dead/disease wood and crossing branches is very important in maintaining a healthy and productive tree. Water sprouts should also be removed at base of tree because they are highly susceptible to fire blight invasion. If training to a trellis system, follow the trellis pruning system.
The majorities of prairie grown plums are self-incompatible or have low fruit production if not cross pollinated. This is overcome by having more than one plum tree cultivar in a planting area. Another way is to graft a suitable pollinator cultivar onto the existing tree. The hybrid plums are especially poor pollinators and should always be planted with a native cultivar.
More Information On Plum Pollination
All members of the sub-family Maloideae are susceptible to fire
blight, although plums are not highly vulnerable.
Blighted leaves will turn brown and die but remain attached to twigs. The twig may curl downwards producing a “shepherd’s hook”, and may release a clear amber liquid. Symptoms usually appear in spring caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora. Bacteria can spread by wind, rain, insects and contaminated pruning tools.
Control: Prune back infected branches to 25cm past the diseased wood. Branches should also be burned or buried immediately. Pruning tools should be dipped in Lysol or bleach after each cut is made to avoid the spread of infection.
Other Posible Diseases:
Plum Pox virus, Brown Rot, Plum Curculio (maggot)
Harvesting and usage
Harvesting plums depends on the maturity time of the cultivar. It can also be a matter of personal taste. The timeline for harvesting is generally between mid-August and late September. If plums are to be shipped to market, they should be picked slightly earlier and left unwashed. Fresh plums may be left on tree until ready for home usage. They are suitable for eating fresh, making pies, sauces, jellies or any recipe calling for plums.
There has been extensive research and breeding that has gone into producing winter hardy plum species for the prairie climate. The following is a list of University of Saskatchewan recommended cultivars:
Table 1: Proven Prairie Cultivars
P.nigra x P.salicina
Dark red, 3.8cm, egg shaped. Matures: Mid-August
Green w/ red/purple molting. 3.8cm.
Deep red. Up to 5cm. Matures: Mid-September
Yellow w/ red blush. 3.8cm. Matures: Late August
Red. Up to 5cm. Superior quality.
Thin skin, yellow flesh. Very productive and excellent pollinator.
Varieties not fully tested
Dark red. Up to 5cm. Matures: Mid-September.
Links For Growers
This Web Page was composed
as a Term Project by a Student in Plant Science 490.3 at the UofSDone By:
Owain Van Vliet Email
On: December 1st 2002