Stone Fruits - Successes and Failures

I was totally blown away by the performance of a new Tehranivee self-pollinating cherry that I planted in April of this year (zone 6). It's a dwarf tree, and was only about 5 ft. tall when I planted it. I was surprised when it flowered profusely in May, and shocked when cherries began to develop. Some of them withered up and fell off, but the little tree still managed to produce a bumper crop, several bowls full, of juicy, sweet, crunchy, flavourful cherries. I don't know if I just lucked out with this one tree, or if they're all this good. It's supposed to be susceptible to cracking, but that didn't happen ... at least not this year.
The prune plum is a whole other story. It was mislabelled as being an apricot when I bought it in '96, and I didn't know that it wasn't an apricot till it fruited a few years ago, so I don't know which cultivar it is.
Last year it bore heavily, but dropped about a third of it's fruit before it ripened. I lost half of what was left to various bugs in various stages. And some of the fruit had what looked like crystallized loops and nubs and dribbles of sap on them. What is that?
Last fall I pruned off all the water spouts that had grown and cut the tree back to a manageable size, trying to recognize the fruit spurs.
This year the tree fruited even more heavily, but has dropped about 2/3 of its fruit, either green and shrivelled, purple and shrivelled, or purple and hard. The crystallized stuff is on many of them too, and I can see bumps and punctures on much of the fruit. If I get a dozen edible plums, I'll be lucky. So much for the plum jam and the galettes.
I'm not big on pesticides and such, but will definitely be using dormant oil this fall and next spring. Any comments, insights or suggestions on the plum problems would be appreciated.
Thanks!
EV
There are pictures of the cherry tree in various stages, and some of the other edibles in my garden, here: http://www3.sympatico.ca/great/tempee.html
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EV said:

Where are you located? In eastern North America this is most likely plum curculios, a type of weevil.
http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2043.html

Of the pesticides recommended for plum curculios, phosmet (Imidan) is considered less harmful to non-target insects.
Cleanup is important. Pick up all fallen fruit and send it off with the trash.
--
Pat in Plymouth MI ('someplace.net' is comcast)

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Pat Kiewicz wrote:

I'm in Toronto, Ontario.

It's one of the few bugs I haven't seen in the garden this summer. Lots of Black Vine Weevils though. Had a bunch of pear slugs on the cherry after it bloomed and removed them all by hand.

Thanks, Pat, but I won't be going there. Believe it or not, I'd rather lose the fruit than use pesticides.

I'm quite religious about discarding fallen fruit. I collect it every day.
Thanks for your comments, EV

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EV wrote:

Just a guess, but the bumps may be some type of scale insect. The crystallized stuff might be "honeydew," their excrement.
--Jeff
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Jeffrey Turner wrote:

Thanks for your comment.
Actually, I have seen scale insects, I think, here and there, but the bumps on the fruit seem to be under the skin. I think that the crystallized stuff is too big to be honeydew. I've put a picture of it up here:
http://www3.sympatico.ca/great/viralbynature.html
That one's up near the fruit stem, but they can be anywhere on the fruit.
I've gathered a few fallen fruit specimens and will 'autopsy' them to see if there are clues inside. :-)
EV
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A number of year ago I had a very similar thing happen, but my tree was supposed to be a sweet cherry tree. I spent three years seeing strange little fruits develope and then fall off before I could figure out what they were. The fourth year I sprayed dormant oil and then followed it with an orchard pesticide. I can't remember the brand, but I sprayed it faithfully according to the directions and lo and behold I got a wonderful yield of purple plums. This wasn't what I wanted, but I like plums so I figured no big deal. Then they got ripe and were the most awful, tasteless things I had ever had. My assumption was that the rootstock was for a bad tasting, but very hardy plum and that a sweet cherry was grafted to it. When the graft died it grew from the rootstock and the grower never noticed. I don't know that this is what happened, but I sure don't know why anyone would want to grow that variety of plum on purpose.
Linda

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Linda Barsalou wrote:

Hey, Linda. Sorry to hear about your tree. My apricot that turned out to be a plum actually has incredibly sweet and delicious fruit ... the best prune plums I've ever tasted. It's a good graft. I get the occasional green growth at the graft, and I just pluck it off.
EV

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I think dormant oil is just the first step. Unfortunately, if you want clean fruit and a healthy tree, you have to go on a regular spray schedule of insecticides and fungicides. I have had no luck with the organic sprays, but I'm sure I'll get arguements from people that it works for them.
I also wish people would identify their sources of supply when they get the wrong tree. I can almost understand getting the wrong rootstock, but even that is unforgivable. We should hold these nurseries and suppliers to account to clean up their act. Lets publish their names, please.
Sherwin Dubren
EV wrote:

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sherwindu wrote:

The tree seems to be very healthy. It doesn't look sickly or damaged. The leaves look good. The graft is good. Now, mind you, a little crown gall does appear on some part of it every year. But I just cut it off.
I don't mind fruit with worms in it, actually. Provided there's not a lot of frass, I just cut out the affected part and eat the rest. I wouldn't even be freaked out if I ate a larva or two. In other parts of the world, stuff like that is a source of protein ... and I'm not a vegetarian.
Is there any chance that the cold wet weather is contributing to the premature fruit drop? Other than plum curculios and scale insects, is there any other bug I should look out for?

I'd like to know more about them, if anyone has more information.

I got the tree from White Rose, which is now out of business. They were an OK nursery once upon a time.
Thanks for your comments.
EV

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I assume you are comparing this year's drop of peaches to previous years. Climate may be one factor, but I would be more suspicious of the tree being under stress, either from pests or from lack of water, or too much water. If you have no visible
sign of damage to the leaves, branches, or fruit, it will be hard to diagnose the cause. Were the dropped fruit still unripe (a bad sign)? Hopefully, your tree is not permanently effected and will return to normal for next season. I would apply a generous amount of fertilizer (slow acting, like composted manure) and mulch to keep the tree insulated and give it a kick start in the Spring.
Sherwin Dubren
EV wrote:

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sherwindu wrote:

I have the peach's cousin ... prune plums. :-)

Cold wet spring, cold wet summer. Wet, wet, wet. It could easily be too much water.

I think that the picture is complicated by multiple causes, and I'm not yet experienced enough with fruit trees to recognize what's what. I took some pictures of some of the fallen fruit and will put it up on my webpage within the next few days. It might help to identify different causes. I did find the usual worm inside one of them. The tiny white segmented one with the brown head frassing up the fruit. I took a picture of it too. Hope I got it in focus. I've noticed that a few pests seem to have similar looking larval stages. I need help with identification. I supect fruit moths.

Mostly unripe, yes. The tree has always done that. But this year, it's lost more than usual, proportionally. I started out with hundreds of plums and now have a dozen or two. Now the almost ripe ones, that ripen up in a day or two, are starting to fall. I'll probably get a few good ones, and the squirrels will take the rest as they ripen in the rain.

I guess I'm an optimist. I think it will come back better than ever. A few years ago one of the neighbour's big trees got cut down and it started getting the full sunlight it should have had all along. It's grown quite the trunk since then. It does seem to be doing well aside from the falling plums. I had a bit of some of the fruit that wasn't badly damaged, and it's sweet and flavourful as can be. I would love to have a bumper crop. Sigh.

Can't hurt. I will definitely amend the soil. Thanks, EV

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