June 3, 2017

1 - In some parts of New Mexico flowering plums, apricots, and some other fruits do not consistently produce fruit.

Yard and Garden June 3, 2017


My flowering plum has made fruit this year. I have been here 5 years and this tree never made fruit before. I thought it was for flowering only and would not make fruit. Why did it make fruit this year? Are the fruit safe to eat?


Several fruit trees we grow in New Mexico, especially the “flowering” plum and apricot trees may produce beautiful flowers most years without developing the fruit. This is due to our climate and the fact that these fruit trees tend to flower before our freezing weather ends. If a freeze occurs when they are flowering, the fruit will often not form fruit. If they flower during a cold period the bees may not be active and the flowers may not be pollinated. Without pollination the fruit will not form. If the fruit has formed and freezing weather occurs the fruit may be killed unless the cold is not severe and if there are enough leaves on the tree to hold some heat radiating from warm soil.

We also have problems with wind damaging the fruit or even blowing them from the branches as the branches whip against each other during the wind. Windy weather may also inhibit pollination.

In some parts of New Mexico the proper conditions for fruit production in apricots, flowering plums, and some other fruit bearing plants may come infrequently. In those rare years, these plants may produce the crop that we desired, or that we did not even expect as in your case.

The plums produced by the trees often called flowering plums should be very tasty. Some prove to be very tart, but they are good for eating and excellent for making preserves and jellies.

Proper selection of fruit varieties may allow you to increase the chances of a crop more frequently. Your local NMSU County Extension Service can provide you with the most recent research information regarding appropriate fruit trees for your part of New Mexico. In the case of some fruit types, we have few choices and must wait for those rare years when weather conditions are just right. Then we can enjoy those fruits from our own gardens.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email: desertblooms@nmsu.edu, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at desertblooms@nmsu.edu, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook page.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!