plums

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Plums are placed within the Prunoideae subfamily of the Rosaceae, which contains all the stone fruits such as peach, cherry and apricot. Plums are the most taxonomically diverse of the stone fruits and are adapted to a broad range of climates and soils.
The plum tree is a small to medium-sized shrub or tree, but may also grow up to 10 m tall. Twigs are glabrous, becoming lustrous red-brown. The shiny bright green oblong-ovate leaves are carried on 1- to 2-cm-long petioles with several glands

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Description

Plums are placed within the Prunoideae subfamily of the Rosaceae, which contains all the stone fruits such as peach, cherry and apricot. Plums are the most taxonomically diverse of the stone fruits and are adapted to a broad range of climates and soils.
The plum tree is a small to medium-sized shrub or tree, but may also grow up to 10 m tall. Twigs are glabrous, becoming lustrous red-brown. The shiny bright green oblong-ovate leaves are carried on 1- to 2-cm-long petioles with several glands.

The white flowers are borne on short spurs, mostly in clusters of 2–3 and appearing before or together with the leaves. Honeybees are the major pollinators. The fruit, a drupe, is globose-ovoid, 3–7 cm in diameter, yellow, red or greenish in color, glabrous, and often pointed at the apex. Fruits are classified as freestone or clingstone type, which indicates whether the stone separates easily from the flesh.

PROPAGATION

Plums do not produce true from seed. Consequently, and to maintain ‘true to type’ cultivars, they must be propagated asexually by using grafting.

GRAFTING

Budding or grafting can only be carried out if suitable rootstock material is available. Myrobalan (Prunus cerasifera) seedlings have been used as the principal rootstock for plums. Their roots are adapted to a wide range of soil and climatic conditions. They are resistant to drought and root and crown rot, but susceptible to root knot nematodes and bacterial canker. Contact Oxfarm Organic Ltd for more information about grafted plums trees.

In Kenya, plums are usually budded onto preferably nematode-resistant peach seedlings where they tend to produce earlier and set more consistently. Peach seedlings are compatible with most commercial plum cultivars, although a large scion overgrowth may sometimes develop as the tree grows older.
Establishment Plums are grown on a wide range of soils. However, a deep, well drained, medium-textured soil with a pH of 5.5 – 6.5 is generally best. Plum trees are the most tolerant of all stone fruits regarding heavy soils and water logging, and they tolerate drought better than do peach trees. plums are very productive at altitudes of about 1,700–2,600 m, where their chilling requirements (hours below 7 °C) of around 100–800 are met. Therefore, it is important to choose suitable cultivars adapted to a specific location.
Depending on future market outlet the grower must decide on such aspects as appearance, storage quality, marketability, palatability, pest/disease resistance, tree growth and productivity. Although it is known that some cultivars like Methly, Beauty and Santa Rosa are self-fertile, adequate cross-pollination is needed for other cultivars to ensure sufficient fruit setting for commercial purposes. Worldwide, many new improved selections are introduced each year and are gradually replacing older and less desirable cultivars.
In most cases a planting distance of 5 m x 6 m is recommended. A spacing of 4 m x 5 m is sufficient if trees are regularly pruned, which is done to maintain a balance between vegetative growth and fruiting. In case cross pollinating varieties are needed, these should be distributed at a rate of about every 3rd tree in every 3rd row.

 

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