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Plums pests and diseases

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Which species are considered plums


The variety in shape, colour and flavour of plums is quite wide, even if they are all mainly juicy and sweet. However, all types of plum belong to the genus Prunus. As we mentioned in the article “How to grow plums”, this genus is part of the Rosaceae family, which is why plums share characteristics with many other fruit types. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the number of yields produced globally is constantly increasing year after year. ~61% of the total production is from Asia, followed by Europe with ~26% and America with ~10%. These fruits are obtained from the plum tree, which is typically categorized into three groups, according to their origin: European, Japanese and American hybrid. Their category is no longer related to its growth location, since European trees, for example, can be grown all across the US. They have different preferences; the European more adaptable to diverse environmental conditions; the Japanese hybrids prefer warm areas; and American plums can more successfully exist in low temperatures.

The most common pests and diseases


Farmers have been dealing with pests and diseases in their plum crops for many years. Prevention is always the most powerful approach, and they have developed a clever system which is also used for peaches and other fruits. In order to maintain the fruit in good condition, they are protected from insect and disease pests by paper bags that allow the light and airflow needed, but not the interaction of harmful specimens. However, other structures in the tree are attacked. We will discuss some examples in the text below.

Plum fruits damaged appearance. Image: Cornell University

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Roots’ pests


The root is an essential part of any plant. That is why the attack on its structure will cause significant damage, not only in the development of the fruits but also of the entire tree.

There are two main diseases directly related to this organ in plum fields: armillaria crown and cotton root rot. Both diseases are caused by a fungus (Armillaria and Phymatotricum, respectively) that attacks not only the roots but also the woody air tissue (trunk and mature branches). It is essential to maintain control of the base of the tree as the development of this disease, the presence of the fungus, can be discovered with the naked eye meaning further infection can be prevented. Otherwise, a quick and sudden death of the entire tree will occur.

Fruit pests


Brown rot

It has been described by experts as the most destructive disease of plums and peaches. It is caused by the fungus Monilinia fructicola that infects flowers, shoots and fruits before and after harvest. As the common name suggests, distasteful brown areas will be seen on contaminated fruit. Due to water loss, the fruits tend to wrinkle, which is why they are described as mummies, and become a source of spores that will infect surrounding fruits.

Plum pockets

The disease commonly known as plum pockets is caused by the fungus Taphrina. The most obvious symptoms are observed in the fruits, however this fungus also infects leaves and shoots, which will sometimes appear crooked or curled. The fruits, however, considerably increase in size, even ten times larger than expected in their stage of development. In turn, they wrinkle and deform, leaving their pulp unusable for human consumption. Once dry, they will present a dark to black colour, hence it is known as plum bags. Nowadays, there are resistant plum plants, which is a great advantage for farmers who are thinking about starting a plantation.

Plum curculio

Conotrachelus nenuphar are small weevils that deposit their larvae on the fruits when they are still young. Females make crescent-shaped indentations in the fruits to insert their eggs. Their larvae, which are whitish worms, will feed on the pulp of the fruit, sometimes going unnoticed by the farmer. Although in a large number of cases, the fruit will abort its development when it is attacked. Getting rid of the adults before they start their reproductive stage is the most effective solution.

Bacterial spot

Bacteria can also be a problem for your plum crop; Xanthomonas arboricola pv. pruni (XAP) is a good example. This bacteria infects fruits, and also stems and leaves, creating spots that are visible to the naked eye. The lesions are rounded in shape but can also be irregular, described as “shot hole”. To avoid this infection in new plantings, the use of resistant varieties can also be considered.





We have summarised some of the most important agents that may damage your plum culture. However, with SMART Fertilizer Software, you can always count on the knowladge of our experts and community; discuss your specific problem at Do not hesitate to post images and comments about your crop to obtain the best advice.




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