Hardygold Plum Tree- Zone 3
Characteristics of the tree
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Hardygold is a medium-sized yellow plum, weighing 27g on average, with honey-yellow skin and golden flesh. Its skin is medium-thin and slightly sour, and the flesh is firm, juicy and sweet, adhering to the stone.
The fruit is ready to harvest towards the end of August, and it is excellent for both fresh eating and preserves. Like most stone fruit, it does not keep well and must be eaten or processed within a short period.
Hardygold has been growing in St-Gédéon, on the eastern coast of Lac St-Jean, zone 3, for several years without any dieback. The tree is also particularly productive.
We have noticed a slight susceptibility to black knot disease, but nothing to compare with the sensitivity of European varieties. Unless you plant it surrounded by European Plum trees all infected by Black Knot disease, it should not pose any problem!
Hardygold is self-sterile, so in order to set a good amount of fruit, it needs to be pollinated by a wild plum tree such as the Canada Plum or American Plum.
This variety was given to us by a fruit tree enthusiast living in St-Gédéon near Lac St-Jean, as apparently the cultivar ‘Fofonoff-Homesteader.’ We later discovered that the fruit the tree gave did not, in fact, match the description of Fofonoff, and its exact origins are therefore something of a mystery. We believe it is a seedling of either Fofonoff or of an American plum tree. Either way, we think it is of a quality worth propagating and we are sure you will agree!
Plums are fast-growing trees, but stay relatively small. A plum tree at maturity will not usually exceed 5 metres or 16 feet in height. Its life expectancy is also quite short: one can generally expect it to live between 30 and 50 years. This illustration shows a 20-year-old plum tree that has attained its maximum height.
You should note that this illustration is meant only to give a general indication of what you can expect, and the growth of your tree might look somewhat different. The development of a tree depends on the soil type, irrigation, fertilisation and climatic conditions. What we show here is based on our observation of the growth of plum trees in zone 4, in rather poor soil. In zone 2, growth will probably be slower, while in a rich soil it could be faster.
All our plum trees are sold bare-root, without pots. They have been cultivated directly in our soil. Bare-root trees must be taken out of the ground and shipped during their period of dormancy, which is why we only ship trees in the spring. A big advantage with these kinds of trees, is that they take up very little space, and can therefore be easily shipped by mail all over Canada!
This photograph shows a 2-3-foot plum tree, just like one that you might receive. Depending on the height you choose at the time of purchase, the tree might be a little smaller (1-2 feet) or somewhat taller (3-5 feet.)
Our plum varieties are hybrids of Canadian, American and Japanese plums. If you are thinking of planting a plum tree, it is important to understand how their pollination works. Hybrid plum trees are self-sterile, and cannot produce fruit alone. Moreover, they are not good pollinators for one another. Even if you plant two different varieties next to each other, you are unlikely to harvest any fruit.
Instead, hybrid plum trees need a wild plum tree to pollinate them: either the Canada plum (Prunus nigra) which is considered the best pollinator, or the American plum (Prunus americana) which also works well. So if you intend to plant plum trees, you must also plant at least one of these nearby, unless of course you already happen to have one. One wild plum tree is enough to pollinate up to around five grafted plum trees.
One drawback of plum trees is that they tend to flower early, making them sensitive to freezing in late frosts. Some microclimates help to mitigate this, such as the proximity of a lake or ocean. We also have a trick to help prevent them from flowering too early: applying a layer of mulch or compost underneath the base of the tree while there is still a good amount of snow on the ground. This insulates the snow underneath, so that it melts more slowly, and by maintaining a colder environment around the base of the tree, delays the start of its flowering period.