Hardy Plums

By Debbie Hinchey

(Edited by Bob  Purvis)


At the apple pressing hosted at Dan and Miriam Elliott’s home on September 8, 2005, we were treated to delicious greenhouse-grown apples by Bob Boyer and plums grown by Bob Purvis (at his Minnesota orchard.)


The plums were ones that Purvis thought might do well for us.  If I got it all recorded correctly, they were:


‘Toka’ – a hybrid from University of South Dakota, is an excellent pollinator. ‘Toka’ is a vigorous, upright grower that produces medium-sized aromatic, sweet (candy-like) plums that ripen about Aug. 25 in east-central MN.  Widely available


‘Todd’ – (from St. Lawrence Nursery) self-fertile,very productive, a European plum selection, rated to be hardy to -30 F or possibly even colder.  St. Lawrence Nurseries introduction.  Fruits are large, oval, medium blue with amber flesh and a mild, sweet flavor.


‘Garfield Shults’ – Cherry plum, has survived 1 winter in Anchorage in a pot near Bob Boyer’s greenhouse in south Anchorage.  Highly esteemed for its flavor in Idaho, where it ripens about Sept. 1.


‘Mount Royal’ – self-fertile, European plum, rated to be hardy to -30 F.  Ripens late August in east central MN.  Round, blue plums with black mottling, size about 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches.  Growth habit somewhat spreading; tree very productive.


‘Castletan Plumb’ – European origin, rated to be hardy to -25 F.  Self fertile, precocious, small spreading tree.  Fruits hang well and are of high quality.  Excellent for fresh eating, slightly clingstone, ripe late August in east central MN.


Although Bob did not bring the latter to Alaska with him, he made some additional comments on other plums worthy of trial in Alaska.


‘Pembina’ – a Prunus nigra selection, blooms early so should cross-pollenize with Toka or Assiniboine.  Hardy in Zone 3, possibly also into 2b.  Fruits are red, ripen late July near Yakima, WA so very early.  Very good for fresh eating, long narrow pit, not good for preserves. Precocious, spreading growth habit, low to medium vigor.


’Yakima’ – Among the hardiest of all European plums.  Tree has upright growth habit and is vigorous.  Needs another European plum nearby for cross pollenization.  Fruits very large, pinkish-violet skin, amber flesh, very tasty and somewhat aromatic.  Ripens early September in east central MN.


‘La Crescent’ – produces small, soft, sweet, apricot-like plums ripening in late July (near Yakima, WA), hardy in Zone 3.  Vigorous grower, late bloomer, very productive if a good pollenizer plum planted nearby.


Bob also observed that ‘Assiniboine’ is successfully pollenized by ‘Dandy’ and that both ripen before September 10 at Dan Elliott’s location.  ‘Assiniboine’ would be a good pollenizer for early-blooming plums but is mostly suitable only for cooking.  ‘Dandy’ is good for fresh eating, an orange plum with orange flesh (better ask Dan Elliott to verify the color of plum and flesh).