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Potential for cultivation of greengage plum (Prunus domestica L.) in California

Karp, D., Mariani, A.
Acta horticulturae 2013 no.985 pp. 193-200
Prunus domestica, Prunus salicina, alternate bearing, canning, cracking, cultivars, fruit quality, growers, horticulture, hybrids, orchards, plums, pollination, pruning, rain, rootstocks, California, Europe, Oregon
Greengages are a class of European plum (Prunus domestica L.) widely cultivated in Europe, and considered to be among the most delicious and highly flavored plums. They were grown commercially for canning in California in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but they were then supplanted by Asian plums (P. salicina) and their hybrids. Greengages present considerable challenges for growers: self-infertility in some cultivars; a long juvenile period; alternate bearing; and small, soft, green fruit, susceptible to cracking in the rain. However, because of their very high fruit quality, greengages have recently been rediscovered as a small-scale commercial crop at several orchards in California and Oregon. At the Bunyard Experimental Orchard in Morgan Hill, Calif., a decade-long study of rootstocks, pollination, pruning and other horticultural practices is in its sixth year. Production can be variable because of alternate bearing and insufficient winter chill in some years, but market demand for the fruit may indicate that greengages show potential as a small-scale commercial crop in California.