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Cornell Fruit Resources: Tree Fruit

Resources for Commercial Tree Fruit Growers

How to grow beach plums

Developed by Richard Uva, Cornell University, with
Information provided by David Simser, Cape Cod Cooperative Extension

Beach plum is new to horticulture production. Keeping records and photos of you practices and yields will be a good way to develop a system that works on your farm. Beach plum has similar cultural requirements and pests as other commercially grown plums. Plum culture should serve as our model, although for pruning, peach may be a better model because, like beach plum, fruit is not borne on spurs shoots.

Management schedule


  • Beach plums may be pruned in late winter to early spring. Remove crossed, shaded, cracked, and down-pointing branches. Diseased branches with cankers and black knot should be removed. Maintain an open canopy to facilitate light penetration and air circulation. Keep plants at a size where picking is practical.
  • If biennial bearing is a problem, do your heavy pruning in years where you are expecting a heavy crop. The location of the fruit is toward the base of one-year-old wood and spur formation is uncommon. Peach also bears on annual wood, and could serve as a model for pruning.


  • Spring clean up. Rake up leaves and remove mummified fruits to eliminate primary fungal inoculum to reduce the probability of brown rot infestations.
  • Apply lime if recommended by last August’s soil and foliar nutrient analysis.

Late-April (white bud)

  • Consider applying control measures for brown rot(blossom blight phase).


  • Begin to control weeds in rows and mow the grass allies. Do so for the rest of the growing season. Flowering weeds can compete with beach plum flowers for bees.
  • Apply fertilizer. As nitrogen is mobile, especially in sandy soil, consider applying 1/2 of nitrogen now and the other 1/2 on in late May or June.

Mid-May (Bloom)

  • Were pollinators present and active during bloom?
  • Start to scout for pests on a regular schedule.
  • Prepare and activate the irrigation system if using one.

Late-May (after bloom)

  • Consider applying control measures for brown rot(blossom blight phase) and for plum curculio/plum gouger.


  • Control small weeds now instead of big weeds in July.

Mid-June (shuck split)

  • Consider applying control measures for brown rot and for plum curculio/plum gouger.
  • Fruit thinning may be required to reduce excessive fruit loads and to reduce biennial bearing.

Late-June (green fruit)

  • Consider applying control measures for brown rot and caterpillars (if needed).

Early-August (1st color)

  • Consider applying control measures for brown rot (fruit rot phase) as fruit begin to turn from green to yellow in early August.
  • Collect soil and foliage samples for nutrient analysis at this time if desired.

Mid-August (pre-ripe)

  • Consider applying control measures for brown rot (fruit rot phase) if needed.

Late-August (ripe)

  • Begin fruit harvest. Because most farms are growing seedling plants (which are all genetically different) there is wide variation in ripening time from plant to plant.
  • Consider protection from birds.


  • Remove fallen fruit and premature leaf drop from orchard floor.


  • Drain and winterize the irrigation system.
  • Remove fallen fruit and leaf drop from the orchard floor.
  • Protect plants from browsing/girdling by deer, voles, mice, etc.

Pest Control Summary

Date Plant Stage Material Target pest/problem
1 late April White bud (F) Brown Rot
2 mid/late May End bloom (F)
Brown Rot
Plum Curculio/Plum Gouger
3 mid June Shuck split (F)
Brown Rot/Plum Pockets
Plum Curculio/Plum Gouger
4 late June Green fruit (F)
Brown Rot
Caterpillars (if needed)
5 early August Color (F) Brown Rot
6 mid August Early Ripe (F) Brown Rot

(F)=fungicide, (I)=insecticide (Alternative products to control these pests are available.)

Mention of trade names and commercial products is for educational purposes; no discrimination is intended and no endorsement is implied. Pesticide recommendations are for informational purposes only, read the manufacturers’ recommendations before use. We assume no responsibility for the use of any pesticide or chemicals.


Fertilization needs will vary with soil type and plant size. Ample growth of 1.5 feet of shoot growth or more during the growing season is desirable. Depending on soil type, fertilizer application rates will vary. Keep track of rates and measure growth every year. Young transplants may be fertilized with 0.6-1.0 oz. of nitrogen per tree, as foliage emerges in mid-May. On established plants, 0.1-0.2 pounds per tree of nitrogen applied under the drip line may be sufficient for beach plum fruit production. On sandy soils, nitrogen might be best applied as spilt applications to minimize loss due to leaching.

See also:

The Beach Plum: A History and Grower’s Guide from Cape Cod Cooperative Extension – Barnstable County, UMass Extension

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