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Plum Cultivation: Here's a Complete Guide for Beginners

Chintu Das
Chintu Das
plum cultivation

Plum or “Aloo Bukhara”as we Indians like to call it is a sweet tasty fruit found in the hilly regions and in the northern plains of our country. Plum resides in the Rosacea family and genus prunus domestica. The same family also consists of almonds, peaches etc. Plum are purple coloured and sometimes have a grayish tinge as well. Also, the same comes in different ranges of size and mostly have a fleshy inside and a seed in it. Plums are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins etc. and can be eaten fresh, dried or as jam etc. Plum basically has 2 types i.e. European and Japanese, however, can be further divided into more than 200 varieties available around the world. 

Indian Plum Varieties: 

Plum varieties developed in India are of Japanese origin and belong to the Prunus salicina group. Plums grown in India require less chilling hours and have the best taste and can be consumed fresh unlike others. Few of the varieties include Kala Amritsari, Satluj Purple, Titron, Kataru Chak. 

Climatic requirements: 

Plums usually require a tepid or temperate climate for its growth, however cultivation can be found between the hills of Kashmir with temperature nearing 0 degrees to the plains of Rajasthan with soaring temperatures of more than 45 degrees. Plums require less chilling hours under 7.2 degree Celsius. Plums can endure high summers as well as freezing winters. 

Soil requirements: 

Typical loam sandy soil, which is deep is the best when it comes to the cultivation of plums. Plums best grow within the neutral pH range of soil (5 to 6.5). Soil that dries fast or logs water for a longer period of time should be avoided at all costs. Proper drainage systems should be maintained within the soil for achieving better productivity of plums.  

Rootstocks: 

Rootstocks can be raised by sowing peach, plum seeds in the month of October end or first week of November. The seeds sprout by the months of February to March. The seedlings are allowed to grow till they reaches around 7 inches long and 2mm in diameter. Budding is done during the months of May till June. Shield budding technique is best suited.    

Propagation:  

Propagation can be done using either through cuttings or seed. Varieties like Kala Amritsari involve hardwood cuttings. The Kabul Green variety can be also used for propagation. IBA solution can be used for increasing the root percentage. Cuttings measurement is more or less like a pencil which amounts around 7 inches long and 2 mm in diameter. Use of the IBA solution takes the success rate to around 80 %.  

Kala Amritsari seeds are collected during summers and stored. The accumulated seeds are then sewn around the month of November under sandy soil. The thickness of sand over the seeds is maintained around 5 cm for good germination. The process completes when a shoot starts to appear out of the seed. The seedlings are then sown in a distance of 8-10 cm from each other in lines. The lines should have a distance of 25 to 30 cm between them. Light irrigation is generally good and the same will be ready for grafting next year. 

Planting: 

The young shoot grows for around 1 year and then can be planted in the fields possibly in the month of December. The distance to be maintained between the plants and rows should be 6 meter. Square system cultivation is done and a total of around 270 trees are planted per hectare of land. 

plum

Training/ Pruning:    

Training is to be done according to the variety. Most of the Japanese group ones are most likely to have a spreading habit, therefore open center systems should be used. Modified leader structure should be used for the upright growing plants. Leader branches should be altered after plantation of 4 years. Also 4 to 5 secondary branches should be collected. Light pruning has to be done to the trees around the month of January to achieve proper growth and good quality spur. Plum fruit is observed after 1 year and the older wood spurs. 

Fertilizer: 

Fertilizer has to be applied according to the soil. Loamy soil requires more whereas hard soil requires less.  

As per the age of the plant, it also depends on the application of fertilizer. Main components being Farm yard manure, Urea, Super phosphate and potash. 

For 1-2 year olds, 5-10 Kilos Farm manure, 50-100 grams Urea, 60-120 grams Superphosphate and 25-50 grams of potash. 

For 3-4 year olds, 15-20 Kilos Farm manure, 150-200 grams Urea, 180-240 grams Superphosphate and 75-100 grams of potash.  

For 5-6 year olds, 25-30 Kilos Farm manure, 250-300 grams Urea, 300-400 grams Superphosphate and 125-150 grams of potash. 

For 7 year- over, 40 Kilos Farm manure, 300 grams Urea, 400 grams Superphosphate and 200 grams of potash. 

Inter-Cropping: 

Crops like black or green gram, cluster bean and pea can be used as intercrops. 

Fruit Thinning: 

Hand thinning should be followed before the fruit size starts to increase more slowly and generally marks the start of the second stage. Fruits should have space of around 7 cm between them. 

Weed Control:   

Glyphosphate should be used for weed control. Amount of application should be 10 milliliter per liter of water. 

Water supply: 

Proper water irrigation should be maintained between the months of March to May for better fruits. 

Harvest: 

Harvesting should be done as per the needs. If sold locally, then pickings should be done when the fruits become fully ripe or else pickings should be done when the fruit develops half skin colour. Plums can decay easily, hence have to be handled well. Baskets and boxes with cushioning of hay should be used for transporting the fruit to avoid any damage to the fruits. 

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