Plum 'Opal' is one of the most reliable garden varieties, and is suitable for growing throughout the country. Slightly earlier to crop than 'Victoria', this dessert plum produces a heavy crop of excellent quality, small, yellow skinned fruits with an attractive red flush in July and August. The golden flesh easily separates from its stone and has a delicious gage flavour.
Grafted onto a semi-dwarfing rootstock, to produce a compact, productive tree. Plum 'Opal' is partially self-fertile but will produce a better yield if planted with a pollination companion such as Plum 'Victoria'. Height and spread: 2.5m (8'). Rootstock: St. Julien A.
Estimated time to cropping once planted: 2 years.
Estimated time to best yields: 4 years.
Fruit trees do not suffer weed competition well. Keep weeds and grass clear from within a 30cm radius of base of the tree. In spring, while the ground is moist, apply a mulch of well rotted manure or garden compost around the base of the tree, taking care not to mound it up against the stem. This will help to retain moisture throughout the summer. Feed and water plum trees during particularly dry periods.
Care should be taken when pruning plum trees to avoid winter pruning as this leaves plums prone to silver leaf disease. In the first spring after planting, select 3 or 4 well spaced branches on a clear trunk of at least 75cm (29"), and shorten them by two thirds. Remove the central stem to just above the highest of the selected branches. Remove any laterals below the selected branches.
In the following spring, select 2 or 3 sub laterals on each branch and shorten these by half to create a balanced, open framework. Remove any weak or badly placed shoots completely. In future years, plums will require pruning in late spring to remove damaged, badly placed or diseased wood. Thin heavy crops when the fruits reach the size of hazelnuts to prevent the branches from snapping under their weight. Allow one fruit every 7-10cm (3-4") along each stem.
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