Plums Falling Before They Are Ripe

Question:

Why do the plums fall off the tree every year before they are ripe. I do everything I was told to do but nothing helps. Opening it, spraying it, etc., I think I'll cut it this fall, unfortunately.

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Hardiness Zone: 5a

Mike from Mercier Quebec, Canada

Answer:

Mike,

Don't give up yet. With a little detective work, you can figure this out. There are many possible answers to your question, so it's up to you to try to decide which of the following factors apply best to your situation:

  • Depending on what kind of Plum tree you have, fruit drop can be a normal biological occurrence. This self-thinning habit is sometimes referred to "June drop" and is how a tree gets rid of excess fruit when it produces more than it can sustain. Self-thinning is most common in young trees. Thinning some of the tree's fruit mechanically (removing some of them by hand as the fruit starts developing) can help prevent this.

  • Cold temperatures. How has your weather been? Spring frosts can cause developing fruits to drop off prematurely. Spraying the fruits with water right before an impending frost can help prevent damage.

  • Early fruit drop can be due to a nutrient deficiency in your soil. Contact your country extension office to find out how to have your soil tested.

  • Inadequate irrigation. A lack of water at critical times during fruit development can also cause premature fruit to drop. Try to keep the soil around your trees consistently moist (not waterlogged). Adding mulch to the base of your trees will help conserve water and prevent big swings in soil temperature.

  • Inadequate sunlight. Do your trees get plenty of sun? A lack of sun causes poor fruit development. As a result, even a mild breeze can come along and cause the fruit to be sloughed from the tree.

  • Disease. Are the fruits that fall misshapen or are they of a normal size and color? Do you see signs of insect damage like crescent-shaped scars, or small holes on the fruit? This could be a sign of plum curculio, oriental fruit moth, or other insect damage.

Here are a few resources to help you determine exactly what the problem is.

Good luck!

Ellen

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

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June 27, 20080 found this helpful

It's just nature's way of thinning the fruit out. All fruit trees do it. It enables the tree to put most of it's energy into the maturity of the remaining fruit, so they'll be bigger and better. Just make sure the tree gets plenty of water so it's not stressed.

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July 7, 20080 found this helpful

Sounds to me like they aren't being pollinated and dropping off. Just like zuchs and summer squash do! Don't give up JUST YET! Also you don't mention it's AGE. A baby tree won't hold for a few years!

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October 30, 20080 found this helpful

Good heavens, you have a tree already bearing fruit and you want to cut it? Hard times are coming friend, figure out the problem and think of the tree as your health friend...

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November 6, 20080 found this helpful

Thanks for all the good advise but I decided to cut down this trouble some tree this fall. It gave too much shade in the the place and it nearly poked my eye out when I tried to trim it. So this was it for me. Cutting it down I realised this plum tree was a hardest wood I ever cut in my life. (Maybe it was too wet?!) I used a gasoline chainsaw. Again thank you all.

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