All about apples, pears, plums, and cherries - and orchards where they are grown

Opal plum


Opal is probably the best-flavoured early plum variety - indeed it is sometimes called a gage-like plum thanks to the excellence of its flavour.  It demonstrates (along with Ariel) that crossing a gage with plum can improve the gage-like flavour.

However the flavour depends crucially on developing sugars during the short growing period, and in the UK and northern Europe Opal really benefits from being grown against a south-facing wall or in a sunny aspect.  In less favourable situations it will still give good crops but the flavour may be bland.

The fruit is medium-sized, coloured dusky red with a heavy bloom, becoming blue when overripe.  The fruit is at its best just before the colour changes to blue.  The plums ripen over a period of about 1-2 weeks, so you don't have to deal with a glut.  The flesh is straw-yellow and fairly juicy.  Opal is a free-stone plum - the stone falls away easily from the flesh.  If picked on a warm July day and placed in a fruit bowl Opal also has a wonderful aroma.

Recommended because it is easy to grow in a variety of climates and provides good quality plums early in the season - but to get the full flavour it is essential to thin the crop, and to plant in a sunny aspect.



Visitor reviews

  • 17 Aug 2013  Tahir,  United Kingdom
    A very good early plum, moderately heavy crop this year. Gage genes definitely show through in the flavour. Not as badly affected by brown rot as some
  • 21 Oct 2012  Beth Cumming,  EDINBURGH, United Kingdom
    Had this in the garden for 4 years and the fruit just doesn't seem to ripen here. I've just picked the few plums we have and it's 20th october and they are still hard! I'm afraid I'm going to have to take it out. I used to have a Victoria which was fantastic, will stick to that if I decide to plant another in the future.
  • 09 Aug 2011  Elizabeth Thorn,  HAMPSHIRE, United Kingdom
    I bought a tree 2 years ago, and it has just produced its first fruit. They are dark purple and fall off while still hard; after being in a bowl with some bananas they are just about edible, but are still rather tart and don't have a nice flavour at all - not what I was expecting. I am very disappointed.
  • 14 Apr 2011  Cheryl Strickert,  MICHIGAN, United States
    Where can I find this Opal plum in the United States been looking with no success. Would like to give it a go and see if it will make it in the zone 3-4 in the mid west Michigan State. Any help would be great. Thanks!
  • 23 Sep 2010  Robert Purvis,  IDAHO, United States
    I've grown Opal for 17 years--in Washington State, Minnesota, and now Idaho. Fruit can keep up to a month, in my experience. Ripening date was about July 28 in WA State, about Aug. 2 in MN, about July 25 here. The tree is very precocious. It's one of the very few European plums that will survive and ripen in Anchorage, Alaska where it ripens about Sept. 4 on the average. The tree is fully hardy at -33F, will be injured at -40F but bounces back well from cold injury. Tree has a dense, round head. One minor drawback is its tendency to grow current season growth with very narrow angles between the shoots. It's an excellent plum for the early market, and I'm very fond of it; and it can easily be dried as well.

Tree register

United Kingdom

Denmark

Ireland

Italy

  • Sarah in Fiesole, TUSCANY

Netherlands

Poland

Spring blossom records for this variety

2014 season

  • 26th April  2014  - tree owned by Hanne in Copenhagen, Denmark

2013 season

  • 28th April  2013  - tree owned by Richard in York, United Kingdom

2012 season

  • 7th April  2012  - tree owned by Karel in Alem, Netherlands
  • 30th March  2012  - tree owned by Roy in Coventry, United Kingdom
  • 28th March  2012  - tree owned by Mrs Tri in Redditch, United Kingdom
  • 28th March  2012  - tree owned by Simon in Duleek, Ireland
  • 26th March  2012  - tree owned by Richard in York, United Kingdom

2011 season

  • May  2011  - tree owned by Hanne in Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 9th April  2011  - tree owned by Dan in Uxbridge, United Kingdom
  • 5th April  2011  - tree owned by Karel in Alem, Netherlands
  • 4th April  2011  - tree owned by Richard in York, United Kingdom
  • 26th March  2011  - tree owned by Roy in Coventry, United Kingdom

2010 season

  • 24th April  2010  - tree owned by Richard in York, United Kingdom

Record your blossom dates in our Fruit Tree Register - more >>.


Harvest records for this variety

2017 season

  • 4th week June  2017  - tree owned by Brian in Burgess Hill, United Kingdom

2013 season

  • 3rd week August  2013  - tree owned by Richard in York, United Kingdom

2012 season

  • 3rd week July  2012  - tree owned by Richard in York, United Kingdom

2011 season

  • 3rd week August  2011  - tree owned by Roy in Coventry, United Kingdom
  • 1st week August  2011  - tree owned by Hanne in Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 1st week August  2011  - tree owned by Ute in Kilfenora, Ireland
  • 3rd week July  2011  - tree owned by Richard in York, United Kingdom
  • 2nd week July  2011  - tree owned by Karel in Alem, Netherlands

Origins

  • Species: Prunus domestica
  • Parentage: Oullins Gage and Early Favourite
  • Originates from: Sweden
  • Introduced: 1925
  • Developed by: Horticultural Research Station, Alnarp
  • Orange Pippin Cultivar ID: 1253

Identification

  • Fruit colour: Red / mottled
  • Fruit shape: Oval
  • Stone clinging?: Free stone

Using

  • Uses: Eat fresh
  • Flavour quality: Very good ... but only when wall-trained
  • Harvest period: Early-Mid season Late July
  • Use / keeping: 1-3 days

Growing

  • Cropping: Heavy
  • Flowering period: Mid season
  • Flowering group: 3
  • Fertility: Self-fertile
  • Vigour: Average growth
  • Gardening skill: Very easy
  • Attractive features: Attractive fruit
  • General disease resistance: Good

Climate

  • Climate suitability: Temperate climates
  • Climate suitability: Tolerates cold winters

Other qualities

  • Awards: RHS AGM 1995

Parents and other ancestors of this variety



Where to buy fresh fruit

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References

  • Fruit Expert
    Author: Hessayon

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