Farm Focus: The Great Plum Mix-Up
In the late spring of 2017, we planted 800 new plum trees to increase our Emerald Beaut production. The Emerald Beauts are a late-season plum that you will all enjoy in the CSA boxes soon. They are a lovely soft shade of green with a firm texture and a crisp almost crunchy mouthfeel. They are a sweet plum off the tree that continues to sweeten as they age. The Emerald Beaut is a favorite at our Farmers Markets, with our wholesale accounts, and with many CSA members.
The trees we planted last year are in their "second leaf" this summer and are looking very healthy. We anticipated our first harvest for the summer of 2019 during the third leaf. Unfortunately, that plan has now been derailed! As Farmer Al was driving through the rows where these trees were planted to check on their progress, he saw purple fruit. He checked every one of the 16 rows and all of the trees are producing purple fruit.
We've since contacted the nursery. They've sent someone out and verified they sent us the wrong variety. At the nursery, each tree trunk is color-coded with bars of paint around the trunk to indicate the rootstock and the scion wood (variety of fruit grafted onto the stock) so nursery staff can easily identify them. The paint indicated Flavor Queen though our trees arrived with a tag indicating they were Emerald Beaut. Someone at the nursery made a mistake that is quite unfortunate for us. We had Flavor Queen in our orchard previously and regrafted all of those trees to a new variety because they were such a poor performer in yield volume.
This winter, the nursery will send out a crew of 6 people to regraft all of the 800 trees to Emerald Beaut. We are glad they will be handling the expense of the labor but it, unfortunately, won't account for the year of lost production or the lost revenue that represents. Farming is always full of surprises!