Italian prune plum tree

Italian Plum Tree

A sweet, dark purple, freestone Plum with firm, amber flesh, the Italian Plum Tree is great for fresh eating and excellent for drying. Widely planted in the Northwest, this European variety is productive, reliable and easy to grow. The Italian Plum Tree ripens in late August into September.

Latin Name: Prunus x domestica
Site and Soil: Plums like 1/2 day to full sun and well-drained soil.
Rootstock Description: A semi-dwarf rootstock for Plums and other stone fruits, Marianna produces trees 10′-12′ in height or less.
Pollination Requirements: Italian is self-fertile. Plant with another European variety like Nichols Plum for the best crops.
Hardiness: Plums are hardy to minus 30°F.
Bearing Age: 2-3 years after planting
Size at Maturity: 10-12 ft. in height.
Bloom Time: March
Ripening Time: August-September
Yield: 50+ lbs.
Pests & Diseases: Our plums are not bothered by pests. Bacterial Canker can occasionally damage trunks or branches. Symptoms of this disease are exudations of amber-colored sap. Spraying lime-sulfur or copper in the fall and early spring can help control Bacterial Canker.
USDA Zone: 4
Sunset Western Zone: 2-12, 14-18
Sunset Northeast Zone: Not stated

What’s the meaning of “you look like a prune”

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verb /pruːn/ /pruːn/ Verb Forms

jump to other results

  1. to cut off some of the branches from a tree, bush, etc. so that it will grow better and stronger
    • prune something When should you prune apple trees?
    • He pruned the longer branches off the tree.
    • prune something back The hedge needs pruning back.

    Extra Examples

    • Prune the trees hard in the winter.
    • The roses had been pruned back severely.

    Topics Gardensc2Oxford Collocations Dictionaryadverb

    • drastically
    • hard
    • heavily

    See full entry

  2. prune something (back) to make something smaller by removing parts; to cut out parts of something
    • Staff numbers have been pruned back to 175.
    • The railway companies have pruned their timetables (= there are fewer trains).
    • Prune out any unnecessary details.
    • Their budgets have been drastically pruned.

    Oxford Collocations Dictionaryadverb

    • drastically
    • hard
    • heavily

    See full entry

  3. Word Originverb late 15th cent. (in the sense ‘abbreviate’): from Old French pro(o)ignier, possibly based on Latin rotundus ‘round’.

See prune in the Oxford Advanced American DictionaryCheck pronunciation: prune

Italian Plum Tree

The history of the Italian Plum may be the history of the Prune Plum itself. Thought to have originated around 2,000 years ago in Eastern Europe, this hybrid of the Wild Plum is currently thought to be a 6x cross of Prunus cerasifera, most likely an example of natural selection and human selection working together to evolve a new species, Prunus domestica.

In ancient Rome there were reports to be over 400 varieties of European Plums cultivated. Most likely the modern Italian Prune Plum was amongst these many early selections. The Empress Plum, as the Italian Prune Plum is sometimes referred to, has been in cultivation for well over 2,000 years.

As early as the early 1800’s, European Prune Plums were being planted and marketed in the United States. It is noted that by the 1850’s, the Pacific Northwest of the United States and throughout California, Prune Plums were being planted and consumed locally as well as dried for shipping.

In the 1920’s, the Oregon market expanded, particularly around the Willamette Valley where the Italian Prune Plum was the fruit of choice for both local consumption and export. The dry Prune Plum had become a valuable food source due to its ability to be dried, shipped and stored.

Some say that only the Italian Plum can call itself a “prune” when dried; and all other varieties of Prunus domestica just dried plums. This is most likely do to the high concentration of fermentable sugars. The Italian Prune Plum maintains its sweet flavor during drying and does not ferment around the pit as many varieties are prone to do.

Even though people wouldn’t have been able to quantify the health benefits of the Italian Prune Plum historically, they certainly knew prunes were a healthy food source. Today, we know a lot more about why they are considered so healthy, including high concentration of valuable nutrients such as potassium, Vitamin C, the important B complex Vitamins, valuable antioxidants sourced in the dark skin and dietary fiber.

Although the Italian Prune Plum thrives in the typical arid climate with low winter temperatures and long hot summers similar to the region where it originated; over time the variety has been shown to adapt to a wide range of climates conditions. Today, the Prunus domestic (European Plums) are some of the most popular varieties of fruit grown in the colder regions of the world. The Italian Prune Plum is still one of the most popular home garden Prune Plum selections in USDA zones 5- 9.

Easily Grow Your Very Own Sugar Plums…

Whether you’re a novice fruit grower, or you just want something sweet and easy, the Italian Plum Tree is one of the easiest fruits to grow.

With gorgeous spring flowers and deep-purple fruit all in a manageable, naturally dwarf tree, the Italian Plum is great for any yard… city, country and everything in between.

Ready to eat fresh right of the tree, easily made into jams and jellies, or frozen and dried, you’ll find endless ways to enjoy your Italian Plums.

…the juice, when cooked, turns into a deep red that’s well-loved by culinary experts for its rich flavor and intoxicating color.

Growing to only 10-15 ft., you can grow your Italian Plum virtually anywhere in your yard… dazzle an entryway with a pair, create a stunning showpiece in a small yard, or scatter an open landscape with as many as your heart desires.

Self-fertile, there’s no need to plant a pollinator!

Winter-hardy… adaptable to most soil types… and disease resistant… the Italian Plum is great for beginners looking to grow their first fruit tree.

Here’s what you’re going to love about your Italian Plum tree:

#1 – Italian Plums are sweet and just a little tart, making them standout from just ordinary plums

#2 – You can grow an Italian Plum tree even if you’ve never grown fruit before. They’re that easy!

#3 – Beautiful spring flowers and deep-purple fruit will add enchanting colors to your yard.

Some fruit trees are complicated and time-consuming, but not the Italian Plum!

Order yours today and see how easy it can be!

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And they are fine for eating fresh or cutting into fresh fruit salads, offering the convenience of a pit that is easily removed by halving the fruit along its natural separation line. Walnut Plum Tart 1/2 cup ground walnuts 1/4 cup flour 1/2 cup sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon cinnamon 2 eggs 1/2 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 tablespoons melted butter A nine-inch partly baked tart shell 1 1/2 cups Italian plums, pitted and cut in eighths (about 12 plums) 2 tablespoons sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon Whipped cream.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Mix the walnuts, flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon together in a bowl. Beat the eggs and stir them into the walnut mixture along with the milk, vanilla and butter. Pour the batter into the tart shell.

3. Arrange the pieces of plum in a pattern on the batter (they will sink in somewhat – no matter), dust with sugar cinnamon mixture and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

4. Serve warm with whipped cream. Yield: 6 to 8 servings. Spiced Plums 1 orange, pitted and finely chopped 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger 1 cup raisins 1 cup cider vinegar 1 cup white sugar 2/3 cup dark brown sugar 2 cinnamon sticks 6 whole cloves 3 pounds Italian plums, pitted and quartered.

1. Combine all ingredients except plums in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

September’s best-kept secret: Prune plums


Back when I was a young boy, and my family had our produce store in North Jersey, we had a customer that my mother and father called Oma. She was a German lady and one of our best customers when it came to buying prune plums.

As September began, she’d start searching for those plums so she could make her prune plum cakes, which were absolutely delicious and which she’d always bring to our family as soon as she made them. In those days, our store wasn’t just a place to buy fruits and vegetables but a gathering place where people like Oma would come have a cup of coffee and talk to us about all sorts of different things.

It was a time when we could have a conversation and slow down and enjoy the day — not just about texting and rushing around with no time for real communication like things are nowadays, which makes me sad. People ask me all the time if I ever had any formal training for my television segments, and I tell them I had the best training of all — selling produce door-to-door off my father’s truck since the age of 5, learning how to talk to people and have real conversations with them.

Every time I eat a plum cake, I remember Oma and how good things were.

September’s special delivery

To borrow a phrase, Italian plums (also known as “prune” or “Stanley” plums) “don’t get no respect.” They’re about half the size of a typical plum and are curiously egg shaped, as if they’re all pit and no fruit.

But savvy cooks know that the secret to these modest, bluish-purple fruits is the application of heat. That’s because when they cook, these not-so-juicy plums transform into a concentrated, jammy deliciousness without turning to mush.

Not only that, but Italian plums are a cinch to prepare because the freestone pit practically falls right out. They don’t need to be peeled, and the already small fruit doesn’t need to be cut down to size. They are, in short, a baker’s dream.

It just so happens that Italian plum season arrives at the tail end of summer, bringing the season of stone fruits to an end with a bang. They offer us one last chance to bake (or freeze) all the crisps, pies, tarts and cakes we can muster. The only problem? The all-too-short season (from September to early October) is over far too soon.

Selection and storage

Good-quality Italian prune plums will be fairly firm to slightly soft with smooth skin, and their coloring will be deep-purple with a red blush that will darken to black as they ripen. Avoid fruit with wrinkled, punctured or rough skin or that is either extremely hard or has brown skin discolorations.

Allow unripe Italian plums to ripen at room temperature. Once fully ripe, you can store them in the refrigerator for a few days.


Italian prune plums are great in sweet or savory dishes, desserts such as compotes and cakes and for their juice.

With the arrival of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, on Sept. 24, a zwetschgenkuchen, or German plum cake/tart with a shortbread-like crust, serves as a great twist on the typical apple or honey cake served to symbolize sweetness and good fortune for the new year.

Beautifully arranged with concentric circles of plum wedges that turn garnet red during cooking, this elegant dessert only looks difficult to make. The crust gets whizzed together in a food processor and patted in the pan, and the filling is nothing more than sugared plums mingled with a little jam and some bread crumbs to soak up the juices.

As we celebrate the final days of summer this month, let my wife, Bette’s, plum tart recipe warm your spirits and help you hold onto your own great memories of the past. This tart freezes well too, so you can tuck one away for the inevitable winter day when you need a reminder that summer and all of its glorious fruits will return once again.

Hope you enjoy the beautiful month of September while getting set for all of the fruits and festivities of fall. There are lots of great things in store! Until then, wishing you happiness and health.

New Jersey’s “Produce Pete” Napolitano is a well-known fruit and vegetable expert, author, and a TV personality who can be seen Saturday mornings on NBC’s “Weekend Today in New York.” For more information, visit NJ Press Media’s Susan Bloom contributed to this article.

When it comes to eating fruit, I love my stone fruit. From cherries to peaches to plums, some of the sweetest, tastiest tree grown food on earth are stone fruits. One of the three fruits I mentioned plums are the most unique. Most cherry and peach varieties are hard to tell apart. Not the case with plums. They are so many colors of plums – black, purple, red, yellow, and everything in between. Plums are also the only fruit of those three that I haven’t written about when they are in season. So I thought it was about time! Since stone fruit is typically only good when it’s in season. So you have to know when the season begins and ends.

When Does Plum Season Generally Run?
Plums are generally in season somewhere in the United States from the end of May all the way into October. The varieties that have their origins in Japan ripen first, and the European varieties, which we usually refer to as prune plums, ripen later.

California Plums
California is the number 1 producer of plums in the United States. They ship plums all over the country, so there is a good chance you are finding California plums in your grocery store. The California plums start to ripen usually in late May. The season goes until around the start of September.

Michigan Plums
My home state of Michigan ranks 4th in plum production. Michigan grows more of the European style prune plums like the Stanley variety but you can also find the Japanese varieties grown in the state. Stanley plums are available right around the start of apple season in September. Due to the extremely mild winter experienced in Michigan this year, plum trees began blooming in March. Hopefully no more hard freezes occur. Plums could be really early in 2012.

Plums in the Winter
Because we import a lot of fruit in this country, you can find plums in the store year round. The plums you tend to find in the winter are from Chile. I typically shy away from fruit grown half a world away, but this past winter, I tried some lemon plums that were grown in Chile and they were delicious.

What about Pluots or Plumcot?
A pluots, also called a plumcot is a combination apricot and plum, with plum being more dominant. These were developed more recently and have become quite popular. The peak season for pluots is around the end of summer. A guy named Chip Brantley wrote a fascinating read on pluots called The Perfect Fruit. It will get your mouth watering.

If you are into eating the best each season has to offer before you leave the site today, check out my e-book series This… to find all the best information on what’s best each season, in an easy to read and very affordable package.

When Does Cherry Season Begin (and End)?
When Does Apple Season Begin, Peak, and End?
When Does Peach Season Begin (and End)?
When Does Orange (and Mandarin) Season Begin (and End)?

Belly Pics

Week 9:

.9 inches long, .07 oz.

I know it’s actually supposedly the size of a green olive, but we decided it should be something sweet instead, and figured a grape was pretty comparable! This is when the baby stopped being an embryo and became a fetus!

Week 10:

1.2 inches long, .14 oz.

It’s actually the size of a prune, but since a prune is kind of smushed up, we found out that it is also the size of a kumquat. That just seemed better! The arm and leg joints began to work this week.

Week 11:

1.6 inches, .25 oz.

The fetus has a 1:1 ratio between the body and head. The fingers and toes aren’t webbed anymore. Hair follicles, tooth buds and nail beds are forming.

Week 12:

2.1 inches, .49 oz.

Almost all of the baby’s systems are fully formed.

Week 13:

2.9 inches, .81 oz.

Baby has teeth and vocal cords and is approaching more normal proportions (the head is 1/3 the size of the body). Intestines are moving from the umbilical cord into the baby’s tummy.

Week 14:

3.4 inches, 1.5 oz.

Officially into the 2nd trimester! The baby’s toes are wiggling and baby is moving a lot more, doing things like sucking it’s thumb. Organs are continuing to develop

Week 15:

4 inches, 2.5 oz.

The baby is more proportional…the legs are longer than the arms now. All four limbs have functional joints

This picture made me think of Juno: “Wow! That shirt’s workin’ hard.”

Week 16
The fetus was roughly 4.6 inches long, and weighed 3.5 oz! The baby’s ears are forming, and it can hear my voice! Eyebrows, eyelashes and hair began to fill in, and taste buds formed.

Week 17
Baby is about 5.1 inches and weighs 5.9 oz. The baby’s skeleton is starting to hardening, changing from cartilage to bone, and fat is forming. Baby is working on sucking and swallowing.

Week 18
Baby is now the size of a sweet potato! It’s about 6.7 oz. and 5.6 inches long. The fetus is super mobile now, and spends a lot of time yawning, hiccuping, rolling, twisting, kicking, punching, sucking and swallowing. I’ve even felt some of the movements, but nothing that was obviously a baby. It’s more that I knew it was the baby because of what I felt kind of, does that make sense?

Week 19
Baby is about 6 inches long from head to rump and weighs 8.5 oz. A greasy white substance called vernix caseosa (don’t ask what it’s made of…ew!) coats the baby’s skin, shielding it from amniotic fluid. Permanent teeth buds are forming behind the milk teeth buds. Reproductive organs are developing (we’ll find out the gender this week!). Sensory development is reaching it’s peak this week and all of the senses are developing in their own part of the brain. Pretty busy in there!

Week 20

Little boy’s little boy parts are fully formed now. He is about 6.5 inches from head to tush, and 10 inches head to foot, and weighs 10.6 oz. He is busy producing meconium, which is a black, sticky by-product of digestion. He has teeth buds beneath his gums now, and his finger pads and toe pads have formed. Limbs are much more proportional to his body now, so he looks less alien like. He also drinks a lot of amniotic fluid (which was so cool to see on the big ultrasound), and sucks his thumb. I feel him a whole lot more lately, but very sporadically.

Week 21

Little man is about 10.5 inches head to toe and weighs around 12.7 oz. His tastebuds are starting to work, and he is drinking several ounces of amniotic fluid daily, both for hydration and nutrition. After birth, many babies are interested in tastes they have experienced through amniotic fluid, so it’s a good thing I’m eating a ton of fruits, vegetables and whole grains! He is also really active now, kicking me all of the time, or doing somersaults. I love feeling him move!

Week 22

Little man is about 10.5 inches and weighs almost a pound! His inner ear is developed to the point of having a sense of balance and his pancreas is formed. His lips, eyelids and eyebrows are more distinct, and his eyes have formed, though his irises lack pigment. Fine hairs (lanugo) cover his body, and his skin is all wrinkled, waiting to be filled in with his cute little baby fat (grow, baby, grow)! He’s still kicking and thumping me a lot, but I never know when to expect it!

Yes, I wear a lot of black. Yes, that papaya is incredibly large.

Week 23

Little boy is still a papaya. Boy now has a sense of movement and can feel me doing things like working out, dancing and going about my days. Blood vessels in his lungs have developed to prepare for breathing on his own, and he can hear a lot going on out here in the outside world. At this point, some noises have probably become familiar to him (like Rufio barking his head off). He’s a feisty little one, and I feel him moving about and kicking a lot!

Week 24

Boychik is about 1.5 lbs. and about as long as an ear of corn (didn’t the papaya seem bigger). He is gaining weight at about 6 oz. a week now! A lot of this weight is fat, and from his organs, bones and muscles growing. His little face is almost fully formed including eyelashes and eyebrows. There is also hair on his little head, but right now it’s snowy white, as there is no pigment yet. He also hears everything going on, so we’ve stopped cursing (good thing). It’s possibly he understands directions (right side up or upside down) inside the womb! Now his movements are important for stimulating muscle growth, keeping joints flexible, and strengthening bones.

Week 25

The big guy is now about the size of an eggplant. He is about 9 inches from head to rump at this point and about 13.5 inches head to toe. He is over 1.5 lbs too. Capillaries are forming under his skin which are filling with blood. By the end of this week, air sacs lined with capillaries will develop in his lungs helping him get ready to take his first breath (and cry). His lungs aren’t strong enough to breathe on their own, but they are developing a substance that will help them breathe on their own after birth. His nostrils, which have been plugged up until now are starting to open, which will help him to start taking practice breaths. His vocal cords function now, and I can start to expect him to have hiccups! He is also getting some cute baby fat, which is smoothing his skin out, and his hair is getting thicker and more abundant. His hands are fully developed and he makes little fists (we got to see him doing this!)

Since the only eggplants I could find were incredibly small (like grapefruit sized), Solomon showed me a more “manly” comparison for the baby. Right now he’s about as long as a 13 inch boot. I also read he’s the size of a rutabaga, but I couldn’t find one of those. Maybe next week I’ll find a decent eggplant!

Week 26

He weighs at least 1 and 2/3 pounds now and is about 14 inches tall (the size of an English cuke). His hearing system is now completely formed, and over the next few weeks he’s going to become incredibly sensitive to sound. He does seem to react to hearing Solomon’s voice, which is so cool! His eyes are almost fully formed and will be blue when he’s born, just like all babies. The air sacs of his lungs will be developed by the end of the week and will begin to secrete a substance that will keep lung tissue from sticking together. His little boy testicles have begun to descend to his scrotum. I will likely start experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions soon, which is the body’s way of getting ready for labor!

Week 27

Little man is about 15 inches long and weighs a little over 2 lbs! He has more taste buds now than he will at birth so he can taste the difference in what I’m eating! His eyelids have been fused shut for the last 4 months, and now they can open. The visual part of his brain is more active, so that combined with the eyes means he can “see” what’s going on around him. He sleeps and wakes at regular intervals (he likes to wake up and start doing the macarena right when I’m getting into bed)! I think he also gets hiccups from time to time, like right this very instant! His lungs, liver and immune system keep maturing, and he knows my voice and probably my scent too!

Week 28

The man is about 16 inches long and weighs 2 1/2 lbs!!! He’s about as big as a bag of flour (whole wheat of course). His lungs can pretty much breathe on their own now, and right now he is just focusing on his organs, making sure they are A-OK. He is currently about 2-3% body fat, so is working on gaining weight. He opens and closes his eyes and looks around, and will blink and turn away from bright lights that he can see through my belly. His eyes also have eyelashes. Soon he will be able to open and close his eyes on his own, not just by reflex. His brain is developing tons of neurons to get ready for the outside world.

Week 29

Man weighs 2.75 lbs. and is about 16 inches long right now. Little boy’s hearing is well developed now, so he can hear whenever Solomon’s potty mouth rears it’s ugly head. He is comforted by the beat of my heart and the rushing of my blood, which are kind of like white noise to him! His muscles and lungs keep maturing, and his brain is busy developing neurons. His skeleton is also hardening, as calcium is depositing itself into his bones. He is incredibly, incredibly active. My mom and I keep joking that he’s busy moving around furniture (baby’s require a lot of stuff, I keep hoping secretly he just comes out with all of it).

As for me, I’ve been back to sleeping like a baby! Probably because we have been so busy and I’m exhausted at the end of every day, but who knows? My skin is really itchy, and I’m constantly slathering lotion on (more so than before). I am also constantly finding that I need to stretch, but maybe that’s because of the move?

Damn, I’m growing big!!!

Week 30

Baby is about 16-17 inches long and weighs roughly 3 lbs, and will gain about a 1/2 pound per week from here on out. His eyesight is getting better, but because he sees everything through my belly, it’s all reddish to him! His eyesight is about 20/400 right now-not too clear! He is surrounded by a pint and a half of amniotic fluid, and that amount keeps decreasing as he needs to take up more room in there. His ability to fight infection is now equivalent to mine. His brain is growing everyday, and has all sorts of grooves and wrinkles. He can now regulate his own body temperature, and is starting to shed the downy hair which has been keeping him warm for now.

Week 31

He is about 17 inches head to toe, and 3.3 lbs. right now. He isn’t going to get much taller, but will keep packing on the pounds for the next few weeks. His brain keeps on developing and he now processes information, tracks light and perceives signals from all five senses. He is sleeping a lot longer now, but is still pretty active, though his movements are different. They are a bit more painful to me, and stronger, though he doesn’t move as much as before (it’s getting tight in there). He is breathing better and much more competently, but I swear the better he can breathe, the worse I can! Just putting on my socks has me out of breath!

While I’m still sleeping throughout the night, and able to sleep in, falling asleep is a lot harder now. My mind is racing, I’m back and forth to the bathroom and I’ve started getting cramps in my legs. I try to stretch before bed, but it doesn’t matter, I’ll get them anyway!

Week 32

Right now, baby is at about 4 lbs. and isn’t getting much longer! His skin is getting much more opaque, and pinking up as layers of fat deposit beneath his skin. He is also head down at this point (the doctor checked), so I feel him squirming and moving in different spots in my belly. His bones are also hardening, and his brain continues to develop more folds and connections. He has also (ALLEGEDLY) developed regular sleeping and waking schedules, but it seems like he’s just up and playing at random! With the way things are moving and growing, my lungs have limited room to expand, and breathing is getting a lot harder. At least little boy is getting enough air! The growth is also making me have to spend much more time in the bathroom, because seriously, I didn’t spend enough before?!?! Also, since things are getting a lot tighter in there, I can see him moving around a whole lot more. It’s always bizarre to look down and see your stomach just moving along like a jelly mold.

Week 33

Boy is doing well, and growing strong, at about 4 to 4 1/2 lbs. right now. He is now tucked into a fetal position, since there isn’t much more room to move around in there. It’s so cool to see all of his movements, since there is more baby in there than amniotic fluid. Just yesterday morning, I saw his little butt push out and couldn’t grab my camera quick enough to document my lopsided belly! His sleeping lasts much longer now, but so do his awake periods. His bones continue to harden, his skin keeps thickening and the folds and connections on his brain keep developing.

Week 34

He is almost 20 inches long and nearly 5 lbs. at this point. Almost all of his organs have fully developed, except for the lungs which will keep developing until birth. His skin is also turning from red to pink, and his fingernails are formed. He could even have a full head of hair by now! His fat layers, which will help him to regulate body temperature when he is born, making him fatter and his skin smoother. He is urinating one pint a day (ew), and can recognize songs!

Week 35

He currently weighs about 5 lbs. (about the size of a small roasting chicken), and the doctor thinks he’ll be somewhere in the high 6’s, low 7’s when he is born. His nervous system and immune system continue to mature, and he keeps adding fat which will help him regulate body temperature. His body fat is about 15% right now, and will be 30% when he is born. His kidneys are fully developed and his liver can process some waste products! Everything, from his toenails to his hair (if he has any and isn’t a baldy like his mother) are fully formed. His movement is really limited right now, so his kicks are hard and strong. His head is also parked right on my bladder, which I can tell you is not so fun AT ALL.

Week 36

I’m in the nesting stage where I’m supposed to have a flurry of energy and want to clean my house top to bottom. Well, it’s not that dirty since we haven’t been living here that long, but I am cleaning and doing things all the time. I guess that was me overdoing it! I also made some soup this week to keep in the fridge, and cooked a ton for the holiday, so maybe that was some nesting? I had more I wanted to cook this week, but I guess we’ll have to see how I feel! Solomon and I did spend a lot of time finishing up the nursery, unpacking everything and setting things up, like the swing.

Boy is gaining about an ounce a day at this point, and is probably about as long as he will get. He has very little room in there, but I still feel him dancing around. He is head down, and will remain that way! Most of the downy hair that covers his body has been shed, and the vernix caseosa which covers his body is being shed as well. His skin is soft and smooth now, and his gums are rigid. His liver, kidneys, immune system and circulation system are basically good to go, and his lungs are almost totally developed.

Week 37

He’s currently the size of a watermelon (a watermelon!), and he’s busy in there practicing for what’s to come when he gets out here. He’s simulating breathing by inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid, suck his little thumb, blinking and moving around in there (it’s so funny watching him move from side to side…he sticks his whole butt out). He’s taking up a ton of room in there, but I’m sure he’s really uncomfortable! He’s also busy adding more and more fat to his little body, so he’ll be all cute and dimply when he comes out. He still gets hiccups all the time, which absolutely cracks me up everytime!

Week 38

At this point, his length and weight are really just a guessing game. It’s not clear how big he will be, since predictions aren’t clear, but the doctor said he’s average sized. Boy is gearing up for his big debut. He’s dropped down quite low (I actually look smaller) and there are some signs of labor according to the doctor. He continues to shed vernix and lanugo into the amniotic fluid that he drinks. Some of it is ending up in his intestines, along with some other gross waste products that will come out (of him) after he’s born. His lungs keep developing and almost all of his systems are working at 100%! He is constantly moving about, I love watching him shove his butt out of my stomach or seeing him just shifting to get more comfortable (hey, at least one of us should be!)

Week 39

Prune for size

(Courtesy Bas van den Ende)

Producing fruit today requires higher and higher degrees of innovation. Profit margins are small, and quality demands are high. Exact standards and specifications regarding fruit size, skin color, texture, firmness and concentration of sugar, shelf life, and blemishes must be met.

Virtually everything that you do in the orchard affects the quality of fruit, so you must always keep size, maturity, and taste in mind. Large fruit brings more money than small fruit does. Not all of that is profit, because it costs more to produce large fruit.

The market demands that you consistently grow large peaches and nectarines of high quality. There is no money in growing small fruit.

To produce the sizes of peaches and nectarines that the market wants, you must know exactly what you are doing when you prune your trees in winter, and three or four months later when you thin the fruit. To prune your trees correctly, you must first know how many fruit of marketable size your trees can and should produce.

The whole process starts with the number of laterals that the trees have grown. Laterals that are about 300 millimeters long and have triple buds (two fruit buds with a leaf bud in between) are the foundation of your next crop. Since peach and nectarine trees only bear fruit on maiden (new) laterals, you actually have to manage two crops in the one year: the fruit that grows in the coming season and the laterals for the crop in the season thereafter. Large peaches and nectarines grow only on laterals of good quality. Watershoots, spent laterals, and short, thin laterals do not produce large fruit and contribute to shading. The flowers and fruit that these shoots and laterals produce rob the tree in spring of valuable reserves of nutrients and carbohydrates. Get rid of these watershoots and inferior laterals.

Prune your reference trees

Plan your pruning before your pruners start on the trees. Prune ten reference trees yourself. Mark them clearly with paint, so that you can refer back to them any time of the year and also show them to your pruners and thinners.

When you prune ten trees yourself, you will see how well or how badly good laterals are distributed throughout the trees. The upper part of the tree usually has the most and best laterals. The lower part of the tree, which can be excessively shaded, often struggles to generate good productive laterals. The shade that the tree casts upon itself limits the production of fruit more than anything else does. Peach and nectarine trees have canopies with dense foliage. It is common to see yellow leaves in midsummer and dead laterals in winter. The condition of the laterals in winter shows you how well you have managed sunlight in the previous summer. Summer pruning can alleviate internal ­shading to a large extent.

Having pruned your reference trees, you can now determine the cropping potential from the average number of laterals per tree. Peach and nectarine trees almost always set more fruit than is desired. You need to decide how many fruit you are going to leave per lateral after thinning. This should usually be between one and three fruit per lateral. Leave one fruit per lateral for young trees and early maturing varieties; two fruit per lateral for midseason varieties; and three fruit per lateral for late-maturing varieties. Multiply the number of laterals by the number of fruit per lateral to get the number of fruit per tree.

If you are not sure what the cropping potential of your young trees is, you can work this out from the average size of the trunks, as shown in Figure 1. When you have determined how many pieces of fruit should be left on each tree after thinning, you can work back to how many laterals you should leave on each tree in winter. This is called target pruning.

Calculating weight

Use Figure 2 to calculate the weight of fruit per tree, per hectare/acre, or per block. The table shows you the average diameter and weight of peaches and nectarines of the two most profitable sizes. Multiply the weight by the number of fruit to calculate cropping potential

The following example shows how to calculate the cropping potential of your peach and nectarine trees in winter:

A planting of six-year-old white-fleshed peaches maturing in midseason has 1,200 trees per hectare and an average of 85 laterals per tree. Experience tells you that two fruit per lateral gives you premium size. This translates into 170 fruit per tree (85 x 2). The planting has the potential to produce 204,000 peaches per hectare (170 x 1,200). If the average weight of the fruit is 200 grams, the cropping potential is 34 kilograms per tree (200 x 170) or 40,800 kilograms (40.8 tons) per hectare (34 x 1,200).

In U.S. measurements, let’s assume the planting has 450 trees per acre with an average of 85 laterals per tree and two fruit per lateral. The one-acre planting has the potential to produce 76,500 peaches

If you manage your trees and your labor well, and if you have Mother Nature on your side, you stand to pack 90 to 95 percent of the crop.

Maintain profitability

The best way to ensure that you consistently produce large peaches and nectarines of high quality is to train and prune your trees well, thin the fruit correctly at “tip-change” when the stone starts to harden, let the leaves and fruit see the sun, irrigate and fertilize well, and harvest the fruit at the correct maturity.

Growing of fruit is being buffeted by the winds of change, and like trees in an orchard, orchardists have to bend to survive. The driving force in profitability is high packouts of large fruit. In this day and age, an orchardist who focuses on yield per hectare at the expense of fruit size and quality is seriously mistaken.

As you sharpen your shears this winter in readiness to prune your peach and nectarine trees, realize that pruning is the most important horticultural practice (excluding irrigation) that an orchardist controls.

Bas Van den Ende is a tree fruit consultant in Australia’s Goulburn Valley.

Your Baby is Most Certainly the Size of Some Kind of Fruit

Weeks 1-4

During the first four weeks of gestation, your baby is too small to have a produce equivalent and therefore too small to be worth mentioning.

Week 5

By the time you are five weeks pregnant, your baby is the size of an apple seed. It is not the size of a fruit, but the size of a fruit’s baby. This is adorable, and more importantly, it is precise.

Week 6

Your baby could best be described as a sweet pea. This is not just because “my little sweet pea” sounds so much better than “my little quarter of an inch.” It is because produce is a very exact and objective form of measurement.

Week 7

All resources agree that your little one is now the size of a blueberry. It’s a good thing that blueberries exist because if they didn’t, there would be no way to describe your baby. You would simply have to wait until Week 8.

Week 8

Your baby is the size of a raspberry. This may make you want to blow raspberries to it through your tummy, but much like an actual raspberry, your baby would not be able to hear them.

Week 9

Your baby may be the size of an olive, a cherry, or grape. Please rest assured that if your baby is a grape, it is not that one little runt grape that always tastes funny. It is a perfectly normal grape in both size and taste.

Week 10

Your baby is the size of a kumquat. If you have trouble picturing a kumquat, your baby could also be the size of a prune. If you have trouble picturing a prune, you do not expose yourself to enough new experiences, and you probably don’t eat enough fruit.

Week 11

Fig or lime. Unlike the limes Amy took to school in Little Women, this one is safely stored in your tummy and no teacher can throw it out into the snow.

Week 12

This week, your baby could be the size of a passionfruit, clementine, or plum. Not just any plum of course. The idyllic, juicy kind of plum you could have eaten if William Carlos Williams had left some for you in the icebox. Any other kind of plum is a travesty and nothing to compare your baby to.

Week 13

Your baby is now the size of a peach. If it were sitting in a bin at the grocery store, it might have its own price tag.

Week 14

Your baby can best be visualized as a lemon or a nectarine. “But wait,” you say, “Just last week, my baby was a peach. Aren’t a peach and a nectarine basically the same size? And aren’t some lemons smaller than some peaches?” It’s true. Some peaches are the same size as some nectarines, and some lemons are smaller than some peaches. But your baby is not just any peach, nectarine, or lemon. Last week, it was the type of peach that is smaller than the type of nectarine and lemon it is this week.

Week 15

Apple or naval orange. Your baby is exactly the perfect round sphere that it should be.

Week 16

Avocado. Not that weird-shaped kind that your neighbor grows in his backyard, the standard store-bought variety.

Week 17

Your baby is the size of a pear or onion. It does not matter that there are many different types of both pears and onions. Your baby is the kind of pear or onion that would be the right size for Week 17. That should help you somewhat.

Week 18

At this point, your baby is the size of either a sweet potato or a bell pepper. Length and girth are determined by genetics, so you will need to take an honest look at yourself and your partner to know which one accurately represents your baby.

Week 19

If you’re wondering about your baby this week, you should know that it is the size of a mango or an heirloom tomato. Heirloom tomatoes, like most tomatoes, are always all the same size.

Week 20

Banana-size is the only possible way to describe your baby right now.

Week 21

This week, your baby is the size of a carrot or a pomegranate. Recall the discussion of length and girth from Week 18.

Week 22

If people are starting to ask about the size of your baby, you should inform them that your baby is, scientifically speaking, the size of a nice, ripe papaya or a hearty spaghetti squash. This should sufficiently satisfy their curiosity without abandoning convention.

Week 23

Your baby is the size of an eggplant. It could also be described as a large mango. This is not the regular small type of mango that your baby was back in Week 19. Oh God, I certainly hope you weren’t picturing a large mango back then. The normal type of mango is much smaller.

Week 24

Most resources will agree that your baby is now the size of an ear of corn. Do not attempt to visualize this by swaddling an actual ear of corn. In doing so, you will take the first step down a path of insanity from which there is no return.

Week 25

Your baby is an acorn squash, rutabaga, or cauliflower. Of course, this will already be obvious to you from the shape of your stomach.

Week 26

Scallions and turnips could both be used to describe your baby this week. If the difference seems trivial to you, you should familiarize yourself with the current literature on bulb versus root vegetable outcome. These early disparities can have lifelong effects.

Week 27

Your baby is now the size of a rutabaga or cauliflower. I hear you questioning their reappearance on the list. Do not worry. The center holds. What seems to be a chaotic mess of subjective proportions is more orderly and logical than you are capable of perceiving.

Week 28

Some resources will say that your baby is the size of an eggplant. Again, this is not the type of eggplant that described your baby in Week 23. It’s the other one. To avoid this confusion, some resources will describe your baby using the much more familiar kabocha squash.

Week 29

Butternut squash or acorn squash. These are exactly the same in size and shape.

Week 30

Your baby could be a large cabbage or cucumber. If cucumber seems like a downgrade from butternut squash, you should find a better cucumber supplier.

Week 31

The size of your baby could be equally described as a coconut or pineapple. For comfort’s sake though, I hope yours is the coconut.

Week 32

Resources disagree this week, but your baby is probably the size of a Napa cabbage, jimica, or squash. Since we have already established that all squash are the same, there is no need to specify the type.

Week 33

Pineapple or durian. If the only durian you know is the one from Portlandia, do not worry. Your baby is not an alien. It is a run-of-the-mill, commonplace piece of fruit.

Week 34

Your baby is the size of cantaloupe. This would be the whole fruit size, not the sliced pieces you are accustomed to getting at brunch.

Week 35

Honeydew. I think we can all agree that melons provide measurement to a degree the metric system is simply incapable of.

Week 36

You will be thrilled to learn that your baby now measures the same as a head of Romaine lettuce.

Week 37

Swiss chard or winter melon. Just like the ones in your fridge.

Week 38

Your baby is now the size of a leek or a stalk of rhubarb. Knowing this should help bring out your nurturing instinct.

Week 39

At one week away from full term, your baby is the size of a mini watermelon or small pumpkin. This is not the size of pumpkin that you could mistake for the Great Pumpkin. This is the size of pumpkin that you end up settling for when you calculate the per pound fee at the pumpkin patch.

Week 40

By this point (and beyond) your baby may grow to be a full-size watermelon, or a pumpkin of a somewhat more satisfying weight.

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NOTE: As you cherish each week of pregnancy, it is important to remember that your diet should not consist solely of the type of fruit that your baby is currently being measured in. Resources like this one are written by experts of measurement only, not nutrition. Please consult your doctor for all dietary advice.

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