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Very old plum tree in The Algarve

We have a really old plum tree which will pre date the house we have bought. That will make it going on 80 years old. The bark all over the trunk and branches is flaky. The branches are higgledy, piggledy with tiny little twiglets all over the place. The plums are deep purple and in great abundance when it fruits in June. By mid-July the season is over. It all starts in May when hundreds of bees descend upon the blossom.

We would like the plums to be bigger and more fleshy. They are healthy, round, very tasty and have a healthy stone in the centre. And so we are thinking that maybe it needs to be pruned in such a way to reduce the quantity of fruit in order to improve the size of the plums.

Obviously the weather in south Portugal is different from England and we are wondering when and how we should prune. The advice on this site is to prune in June to combat disease, but this is right in the middle of its fruiting season. A neighbour has suggested January, and the previous owner has had it pruned in February. The temperatures at present are 9 to 17 degs. and we have had alot of torrential rain throughout December and January, hopefully this will abate in February and the climate will become less wet.

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