Local Wildlife Ate All The Wild Plums

The wild plums here are on the farm were almost ready.   So the other day I grabbed a bucket, walked over to the plum patch, and the trees were empty.   They had gone from hundreds of wild plums to one in just a couple of days.  Chances are the local wildlife feasted on the plums.

How do I know it was the local wildlife?  There were no plums on the ground.  When the plums ripen they fall off the tree.  Since there were no plums on the ground, this means something ate them.

There is a wild plum crop here on the farm that has been left to grow for the past decade.  Some of the trees are close to eight feet tall and are nice sized.

Texas Wild Plums

Wild plum production can be hit and miss.  Some years the trees do very well, while other years they produce almost nothing.  The plum production may have something to do with the time spent below freezing, but I am not sure.  The winter of 2017 – 2018 was very harsh here in Southeast Texas, and the plum corp in 2018 was wonderful.

I had planned on taking the plums and planting the seeds in various locations.   One such location is here on the farm just a couple of hundred feet from the plum trees.  Another location is probably a mile or so from the farm and is on a pipeline.

For those of you who do not know what a pipeline is, it is a buried pipeline that goes from one location to another.  These pipelines can run for hundreds of miles.

The pipeline I wanted to plant some of the wild plums on has a clear view of the southern sun.  The pipeline pretty much runs east and west.  Anything planted on the north side of the pipeline has a clear view of the southern sun.

What does all this mean?  It means I have to wait until next year to harvest more wild plums.  However, in 2019 I am going to be more careful with the plums and harvest as many as I can as they ripen.  Several weeks ago I ate some of the plums that ripened early.  The seeds from those plums were panted here on the farm.

Declining Numbers of Wild Plums

Wild plums are native to the United States.  The do well in sandy soil, need plenty of sunlight, and are drought tolerant.  Left unchecked they will take over a field in a matter of years.  Here on the farm I have to keep the plums cut back so they do not take over the field they are in.

Wild plums in Southeast Texas

Decades ago wild plums grew in such numbers people could pick five gallon buckets of them.  Historically, they were used to make jelly, and maybe sometimes wine.

Times change and wild plums are becoming more and more rare.  They use to grow on the sides of roads, but even that is becoming rare.  Their need for full sun means they will not grow in a forest canopy.

My dad told me how he would pick five gallon buckets of wild plums and bring them to a lady who lived down the road.  This was back in the 1950s and 1960s.

Here we are more than a half century later and the wild plum population has severally declined.  I remember in the 1980s how wild plums would grow all along the sides of rural dirt roads.  Here we are in 2018 and it is rare to see them.

Ripe Texas wild plum

I was hoping to harvest the seeds and plant them in various locations near the farm.  These locations would have a clear view of the southern sun and the sandy soil the plums thrive in.  A handful of seeds were transplanted, but nowhere near enough.

Hopefully in 2019 I will be able to get a bunch of the seeds transplanted.  Something has to be done to help wild plums get reestablished around here.

For 2019 the plan is to keep a closer eye on the wild plums, harvest as soon as they are ready, and transplant.