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What is Russian plum, the history of origin and advantages in the cultivation

Posted by Miroslav Gavalec 02/03/2018 0 Comment(s) New varieties,

A collection of hybrid Russian plum varieties

The history of Russian plums began in the late 19th century when one of its parent, Japanese plum, became popular in the United States, Europe, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. In the European part of Russia, however, Japanese plums did not spread despite the experiments due to their weak resistance to frost and the lack of varieties that would be able to compete with domestic plums.


The story of Russian plums continued in the late 1940s, when botanist Klaudia Fyodorovna Kostina, who worked at the Nikitas Botanical Garden in Yalta, began exploring abandoned orchards left on the southern coast of Crimea after the WWII. Shes aim was to obtain local varieties of fruit species suitable for supplementing the collection. Among other species, it has found a large number of very tasty varieties of myrobalan. Their fruits ripened together with apricot in July, a month earlier than damson plum. The only disadvantage was the insufficiently large fruit, so the next logical step was to cross with the best varieties of Japanese plum bred by L. Burbank in California. By crossing, she obtained the first hybrid varieties of early ripening large-fruited plum, which is also suitable for cultivation in extremely unfavorable climatic conditions. The combination of the best properties of Japanese plum and myrobalan in the new varieties proved to be very successful.


Academician Gennady Viktorovich Eremin successfully followed her breeding work with a team of co-authors at the Crimean experimental breeding station VIR. Over time, more species of the genus Prunus were used in the breeding, which resulted in a number of multi-hybrid plum varieties in which the best genes of myrobalan (Prunus cerasifera), Japanese plum (Prunus salicina), Ussuri plum (Prunus ussuriensis) and Chinese plum (Prunus ussuriensis) work together.


The local Crimean varieties of myrobalan have transferred to the hybrids their good adaptability to the climate of European Russia, resistance to disease, pleasant sweet and sour taste, early ripening of fruits, long hibernation and Japanese plum contributed with its large fruits. A valuable feature of Russian plums is their increased thermal tolerance and higher drought resistance compared to domestic plums. The resulting plum hybrid called Prunus × rossica combines the best of the original parent components.


Modern fruit growing prefers varieties with high resistance to abiotic and biotic environmental factors, which makes it possible to reduce the burden of pesticides during their cultivation and to obtain environmentally friendly fruits and raw materials and products made from them. Therefore, the increased resistance to Clasterosporium carpophilum, Monilia cinerea and Polystigma rubrum is considered to be a great advantage in cultivation.


At the Crimean experimental breeding station VIR, new varieties of Russian plum with ripening time from the third decade of June to the third decade of August were bred with increased resistance of flower buds and wood to frost, resistance to diseases and pests, while high productivity combined with excellent fruit flavor. High yield, early bearing (in the 2nd year after planting), early ripening of fruits, ability of fruits to ripen during storage, stable quality even during storage after picking, all this contributed to the rapid gain of popularity among fruit growers and home gardeners.