Bright Red Tart Fruit-Selection for Northern and Midwestern - Mini-Chee Variety
Normally thought of a southern plum, the chickasaw can easily grow into zone 5 and maybe even more. This plum has quite a range and is often thought of a thicket plum. The plants will runner outward by shallow stolons. It is an easy way to expand the colony by pruning and thinning to allow light to penetrate the branches. I have several plantings of it and have found them to be slight shade tolerant of oaks and quite a durable and long lived tree growing over 20 years of age before the trunks will fade. The tart bright red fruit can be used much like a sour cherry. This plum ripens late into September and October. The foliage and fruit is completely immune to diseases and insects which makes the fruit pristine and easy to culture compared to other most cultivated plums which seem to magnates to every type of fruit worm there is.
The chickasaw plums at my farm are full zone 5 plants and were originally grown from seed purchased from Sheffields Seed Company. I do not think they are hardier than others necessarily but these have been fruiting now for over 20 years and have had no winter injury even at minus 27 F. The trees have an upright strong growing tendency and will spread outward as they start to fruit. The colonies spread slowly outward and are not as vigorous as the American plum in that respect.
This tart fruit combined with mellower sugary fruits make a delicious jelly and jam. The flavor is a lot like cherry in many ways. I am surprised that no one has used it much. Probably because raw it is so tart that it is difficult to eat fresh like a cranberry. I can see a lot of possibilities with this fruit especially with healthy fruit drinks. The yields are very high and there really is no reason to create cultivars from it for use now. I have seen a few larger fruited ones at my farm, but it is not enough to consider naming. More colonies should be established with this species where a plum hedge is desired with high quality fruit harvestable in a short period of time.
"Mini-Chee" Selected variety known for its heavy production of small fruit on a small tree to 10 feet tall. This was a chance discovery of one tree that had flowered at an early age. This early flowering also brought heavier fruiting all along the branches. The tart fruit is cherry sized and is born in clusters up and down the branches. The fruit quality is similar to most Chickasaw plum trees in that it is very tart and ripens late in the season in October. No disease or insect damage is found on the fruit or the leaves. Scionwood can be requested with an order of seeds. From seed, this is an excellent chance to grow seedlings that are more precocious than the species and develop even higher yielding tart plums that can be used similar to a sour cherry. Very easy to grow in a wide variety of climates.
Germination: Chickasaw plum is one of the easiest to grow from seed requiring 90-100 days of cold moist dormancy or plant outside in the fall and let nature takes it course. The indoor method or spring planting: Put the seeds in a moist media like Canadian peat moss that is lightly moist but not overly wet. Store for about one week at room temperature and then put in the refrigerator for 90 days at 34 F to 40 F. Some seeds will begin splitting in 60 days. These you can take out and plant in pots or keep them with the other seeds and plant them all outside in the spring about 1/2 inch deep with seeds 1 inch apart. Seeds will emerge in 7-30 days. Seedlings will grow 6-18 inches in one year.
A portion of the seeds may go through 2 dormancies to sprout. Very easy to produce this plum which has clean foliage and great resistance to disease. Our strain is probably one zone more cold hardy than other seed strains as the location of the planting is in a frost pocket where it has dropped to below -25F for sure.
|Genus & Species||Prunus angustifolia|
|Hardiness||-25F or more|
|Pollination Requirements||Self fertile but will benefit from two or more plants of itself.|
|Soil||Easy to grow in a variety of soils.|
|Climate||Zones 5 - 9. Tolerates heat and humidity better than other species plums.|
|Ease of Cultivation||Quite easy to grow from seed but may need an additional dormancy to pop all the seeds in one batch. One of the most durable plums and has the best foliage of any seedling plum. Almost willow like in appearance with a nice shiny gloss to it. Produces tons of tart clean plums. Really an amazing plum surprisingly hardy in Michigan with no die back even in the -27F year. It does spread by runners but those can be managed into fruiting trees very easily as the patches are easily cleaned up and provide shade underneath them making collection easier for dropped fruit.|