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Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station
Lowell T. Frobish,
Respectively, Professor, Research Associate, former Associate Professor, and Technician of Horticulture
AU-CHERRY is a new plum cultivar developed by the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn University, for growing in areas receiving at least 700 hours of chilling temperature below 45°F The new cultivar was selected from a cross of Methley and Starcher No.1 (Prunus angustifolia) followed by backcrossing and sibbing of selected seedlings, as shown by the pedigree on page 2. It was developed to meet the need for disease-resistant cultivars. Such resistance is particularly important in the Southeast where prevalence of certain diseases and susceptibility of commercial varieties has discouraged plum production.
Pedigree of AU-Cherry plum.
Trees of AU -Cherry are upright with dark green leaves. In test orchards in Alabama, the trees were vigorous, disease resistant, and long lived. The plant is self-fruitful, flowers profusely, and sets a heavy crop. The cultivar has proven its ability to produce high yields of excellent quality fruit where certain fruit and tree disease problems occur. It is a mid season cultivar that matures fruit 2 weeks after Methley, table 1
AU-Cherry is highly resistant to bacterial canker (Pseudonwna syringae, Van hall), bacterial fruit spot [Xanthonwnas pruni (E. F Smith), Dows], bacterial leaf spot (X. pruni), black knot [Apisporina nwrbosa (Schw.) Ark.], and plum leaf scald (Xylella fastidiosa, Wells et al.), table 2.
Fruits of AU -Cherry have dark red skin (scarlet red, HCC 44A)2 and dark red flesh (scarlet red HCC 44B)2. Fruit quality is excellent for fresh market, which makes AU -Cherry adaptable for home use.
The cultivar has been in trials as Methley C-50 at five locations in the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station and in grower trials. AU-Cherry compares favorably with other cultivars in yield, table 1. It has produced high yields at two locations in central and southeast Alabama and at Byron, Ga. Average yields of marketable fruit per tree in Alabama were 40 pounds, 70 pounds, 90 pounds, and 100 pounds, respectively, from 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-year-old trees.
Fruits of AU -Cherry store as well as AU -Amber, AU-Roadside, and Methley and better than Bruce, Ozark Premier, and Homeside, table 5.
AU-Cherry is an excellent plum for the home garden. Tree vigor and tolerance to plum leaf scald are the primary improvements of AUCherry. Trees of AU -Cherry are vigorous and show no evidence of plum leaf scald, whereas trees of susceptible varieties grow much more slowly and show obvious symptoms of plum leaf scald. Tree vigor is a primary selection criterion in the Southeast, and the relationship of plum leaf scald to phony peach disease makes resistance important.
Another improvement of AU -Cherry is the increased tree longevity of AU-Cherry. In test orchards in Alabama, 10 years after planting, trees of AU -Cherry were in vigorous condition.