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[nafex] Mount Royal Plum/Yakima Plum for cold climates
In reply to Bernie Nikolai's message #4764 of 30 September:
About 1950 the Journal of the American Society for Horticulture
Science (?) published an article on the coldhardiness of European
plums by a researcher the the Minnesota fruit breeding station
The hardiest of those tested was Krikon Damson (which should be in US
collections; I think a few Canadian specialist nurseries sell it; it
used to be in the Vineland Station (Ontario) collection and I believe
they got it from the US), the next was Stanley (which seems rather
prone to black knot)and Mount Royal was rated almost as hardy as
Stanley. Yakima was rated a little less hardy than Mount Royal, but
still one of the hardiest European cultivars.
I have no experience of Yakima and almost none of Mount Royal. The
information I have encountered about Yakima says that it is a large
plum of exceptionally good flavour, better than Mount Royal. It is
usually said to be a shy bearer, although I have not acquired much
information about it and maybe there is some combination of climate
and pollinators that helps, as in some other cases.
I recall that the late Dr. Gus Tehrani, plum breeder of Vineland
Station, maintained Yakima in his collection and hoped to incorporate
its quality in a commercial plum, although I don't know whether
Yakima figured in the ancestry of any of his named cultivars or
I believe that Yakima is considered to be related to Yellow Egg
(English origin, mainly processing although apparently some people
like it fresh, hints of susceptibility to brown rot) and Peach ( I
think northwest US origin, apparently a good quality fresh eating
cultivar). I seem to recall rather vaguely that the ASHS Journal
article listed both as hardier than average. They would be more
productive, probably especially Yellow Egg.
Dr. Tehrani evaluated Pershore Yellow Egg as a rootstock (it is
considered a good plum rootstock in Britain) and told me that the
roots seemd to grow more on one side than the other, and that it was
somewhat susceptible to wind. I recall from a British government
publication I read many years ago that Pershore Yellow Egg is
compatible with peach and I think (memory a little dim here) with
apricot. It apparently does not share the ability to let the
cultivars grafted on it crop reasonably well in droughty summers
which makes Myrobalan so popular in the Niagara Peninsula.
I once bought a Mount Royal tree as a gift for friends who lived
about 20 miles north of Lake Ontario near Kingston, and in the 3 or
so years I was able to observe the tree I noticed that it lived up to
the usual description of Mount Royal as somewhat dwarfish with good
crotch angles, close to 90 degrees in this case. This growth
character made me wonder how Mount Royal would serve as a rootstock
for European plum in cold areas. One might be able to propagate it on
a marginally compatible nurse rootstock such as Prunus americana, and
I have wondered how softwood cuttings would work. I don't expect to
be able to do these experiments myself.
Mount Royal originated at Montreal around 1830-1850 with a Mr. Corse
(?). It is often spoken of as resistant to disease, although I don't
know how this resistance or tolerance divides between black knot and
Mount Royal has survived for lengthy periods (apparently 20 years or
so at a stretch) along with Krikon Damson, around WWII or somewhat
before, at the Agriculture Canada research station at Morden in
southwestern Manitoba (Agriculture Canada zone 3b, a little milder
than Edmonton's 3a in the rural area away from the urban climate
effect). Mount Royal and Krikon Damson apparently did markedly better
at Morden than McIntosh apple.
I have heard of a successful (for a while at least) small commercial
planting of Stanley on the Gaspe peninsula - near the sea, but it
still gets plenty cold there in winter. I think that Mount Royal
might be a better prospect for most people than Stanley, mostly
because of black knot, and partly because I have noticed that Stanley
in commercial orchards in the Niagara Peninsula on peach soils has
pretty mediocre fresh quality. I understand that the Geneva Station
which originated it has a lot of clay, so maybe it does better on
clay than on sandy loam. I recall that Imperial Gage was reported in
the old books to be super-good in quality on the peach soils but
mediocre and not worth growing on clay.
Both Mount Royal and Stanley are reputed partly self-fertile, I
believe the damsons are self-fertile.
I would be very careful about commercial nursery trees of European
plum in cold areas regarding rootstock hardiness. Ontario nurseries
used to sell them on Myrobalan seedling, and in the test winter (very
cold early, then a long warm thaw followed by severe cold with no
snow) of 1980-81 in the Kingston area, I had some Myrobalan seedling
rootstocks whose apricot tops had died previously, die or suffer
severely (the roots died or were damaged, not just the tops).
I hope that you are not too bored with this long post.
Douglas Woodard <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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