realenglishfruit

Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

Tag Archives: plums

May orchard update – grubs in plums or apples

If last year you found grubs in your plums or apples, now is the time to do something about it. Depending on the severity of the problem, the correct pheromone trap will reduce or eliminate the damage.

If you have plum trees, please make sure a pheromone trap is placed in the tree. This will reduce or eliminate damage by the plum moth. The same principle applies to apple trees, but in this case the trap to be hung in the tree is the codling moth pheromone trap.

Continue to water young fruit trees. Make sure the one square metre of clean soil around the trunk of the fruit trees stays without grass and/or weeds. This is to ensure that your watering is to the benefit of the young fruit trees, and not the weeds and grass.

Pheromone trap, photo courtesy of MPaola Andreoni/flickr.com

Pheromone trap, photo courtesy of MPaola Andreoni/flickr.com

Pigeon damage

Because of shortage of fresh green growth, pigeons are causing a lot of damage to the developing blossoms of many different fruit trees, but in particular to plums and green gages. This will carry on until more attractive sources of food become available.

Without blossom, there can be no fruit set, and so no fruit! Therefore if damage is only slight, no action needs to be taken. If the cold period continues, pigeons are capable of literally stripping off all the blossom. Black cotton threads, woven through the flowering branches, will usually stop the damage. Just wind it around the tree (slip the spool onto a rod or dowel to make things simpler) so that the threads are about six inches apart. What happens is that the bird flies towards the tree, doesn’t see the thread, touches it with its wing, gets a fright, and flies off. No damage to the bird is done, and it helps save the blossom!

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Pigeon damage on plums and greengages

Photo courtesy of Marle Hale/flickr.com

Photo courtesy of Marle Hale/flickr.com

It is at this time of the year, when the first newly emerging little leaves are a great attraction in all areas where pigeons are present in great numbers, where field rape is grown. The pigeons show a great desire to vary their food source. After having grazed the rape fields, the pigeons will move for a while to the nearest hedge cover. From that point they will attack any type of plum or green gage, severely damaging any blossom or young green leaves.

The net result is that the crop prospects of those trees will be set back greatly and may result in no crop at all. Anything that can be done to scare the pigeons away is worth trying. A mixture of various deterrents is better than just one. Click here to read about one method of protecting the trees.

The length of the period during which the trees are at risk will greatly depend on temperatures and type of weather. A long cold spell is the most damaging period. This season is likely to be a bad season as warm spring weather seems not to be expected just yet, according to the 10-day forecast by the weather experts.

Excellent crop from young trees

A customer writes: “I would like to say how pleased I was with the fruit trees that you supplied; here are some photographs of the orchard where our ducks and chickens freely wander. This year I have picked 7lb of plums from one tree and I managed to make some delicious plum jelly which my children love. The Bramley apples are doing amazing this year and are extremely heavy with fruit, plenty for my well adored blackberry and apple jelly and my apple and mint jelly.”

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A fruity detective story

The story begins with a letter.

“Hello Dan. Three years ago I bought from you 2 plum trees (1 Czar and 1 Marjories Seedling) and 1 apple tree (Bountiful) and now they have grown into sturdy trees. The Czar and Bountiful produced prolifically last year and the Marjorie Seedling less so, but this year it appeared that all three would produce magnificent crops (despite the best efforts of wood pigeons to strip the plum trees of their leaves). However, two weeks ago or so I noticed some brown patches on my Czar plums which have further developed and spread, and I am 99% certain that the tree is suffering from brown rot. Worse I am pretty certain that it has also spread to the other two trees, although it is in a less advanced state.

“I have removed the fruit concerned and I have sought information on the internet for a cure. However, all the advice is that, because this is a fungus, no cure is available. I understand that I may have to accept that I will lose this year’s crop and my main concern now is how to prevent a recurrence of the problem next year, if indeed prevention is possible. Any advice you have on what I can do in this respect would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for any help you can provide. Yours sincerely, B.G.”

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I of course remembered the trees that we had supplied, and the location, and so I wasn’t sure about the inception of brown rot. This is what I wrote back:
“Hello B. Usually brown rot only occurs on fruit which is nearly ripe to eat. I am therefore not at all sure it is indeed brown rot. In order to be more positive, please send me some pictures attached to your next email. I will need a picture of the tree as a whole, a close up picture of the leaves and another picture of the worst affected fruits on the tree.”

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Here are the photos that Mr. B.G. provided:

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And here are the photos of the Marjorie Seedling:

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The photos clarified the situation, and I was able to write back to Mr. B.G. immediately.
“Thank you for the pictures. Yes I do know what has happened. But first the good news!

There is nothing wrong currently with your tree; good dark green foliage and good sized leaf.

The bad news is the fruit which has been totally destroyed. The cause is the spores of the fungus ‘Brown Rot’. Earlier in the season you must have had a hailstorm. The pit marks on the fruit are visible on your photos. Wounds in plum fruits do not heal. Brown Rot fungus spores are in the air, throughout the growing season. After the hail the fruit got infected with these spores and I am afraid destroyed your crop. The points you should consider are the following;

1) Look out for a stump or old plum tree in your area, which could be the source of infection. Destroy that tree.

2) Thin your fruit to 2 per cluster as a standard procedure by the middle of June in any year. Space these doubles 6 inches apart. Brown rot fungus thrives in clusters of fruit.

3) If hail occurs again next year, spray without delay with Systhane fungicide. Once the spores get in the wounds it is too late. You can purchase Systhane from Amazon for little money!

4) Do remove all affected fruits as soon as possible from your garden. The fungus will overwinter on the fallen fruits and be ready to infect next year’s crop.

5) Water the soil under your tree during dry hot periods. If the soil dries out and then rain follows, the fruit will split and as a result, create enormous points of entry for brown rot spores.

6) Spray your fruit trees before leaf fall in November with Bordeaux mixture. This will safe guard the tree against silver leaf and bacterial canker infections.”

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So, all clear. The hunt is on for the rotting plum tree stump that caused it all!

November tips – protect pears and plums from bird damage

A bullfinch, photo courtesy of Paul Starkey/flickr.com

A bullfinch, photo courtesy of Paul Starkey/flickr.com

Even though the trees will be looking bare, it’s important to apply cotton threads to pear and plum trees as soon as the leaves have fallen. This is a good method of deterring pigeons and bullfinches who otherwise will eat the fruit buds, essential for next year’s crop, in pears and plums. Ordinary cotton is fine, just wind it around the tree (slip the spool onto a rod or dowel to make things simpler) so that the threads are about six inches apart. What happens is that the bird flies towards the tree, doesn’t see the thread, touches it with its wing, gets a fright, and flies off. No damage to the bird is done, and it helps your tree!