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Since You Asked: Going plum crazy over WAY too many plums

We have a flowering plum tree. It had been great until about the time it was 12 years old and started producing plums. Now every year there are more and more plums. What a mess! They are driving us crazy. Is there anything I can do to stop it from producing plums? Please let us know before they take us away because we are nuts!

— Virginia N., Medford

Bad news, Virginia, the experts over at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center not only didn't have an answer, they have the very same problem.

"We have some in front of the extension office," said Phil VanBuskirk, the center's administrator. "These are trees that are typically unfruitful, but if a pollinator is nearby, some flowers will revert.

"The plums are small and messy. They are always tracking in."

VanBuskirk said that the setting of fruit on apple and even pear trees can be slowed by the application of a carbaryl, such as the insecticide Sevin, but that rarely has much effect on plum trees.

"There's not much to do with plums besides pick them off," he said.

While the fruit of a flowering plum is small and certainly not renowned for its flavor, it can be used for making plum jelly. Maybe that goes well with nuts.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.