Representatives from the Cape May County Beach Plum Association (CMCBPA) present a check in the amount of $2,500 to Jenny S. Carleo, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent, to conduct a Beach Plum Study. Photo: L to R: Linda Matousch-Rau, Treasurer, CMCBPA, Dave Van Vorst, President, CMCBPA, Jenny S. Carleo, and Michael Craig, CMCBPA member
Cape May Court House – Cape May County Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent Jenny S. Carleo received a grant in the amount of $2,500 from the Cape May County Beach Plum Association (CMCBPA) to conduct a two-year study on pollination of the beach plum, the official fruit of Cape May County.
Carelo will be collaborating with Dr. Joseph Goffreda, tree fruit breeder for Rutgers University and Dr. Hemant Gohil, County Agent III, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Gloucester County, on this study.
The CMCBPA conducted propagation research on beach plums and replicated 12 specific plants of interest. Flower pollination is required to produce fruit. But, it is not known whether beach plums can self-pollinate or whether they need to be pollinated by other beach plum plants in order to produce fruit. Planting duplicates en masse could prove devastating to the budding industry, if the beach plum tree cannot self-fertilize. The Self-Pollination Research Study of the beach plum will focus on these 12 selected plants of interest to determine whether or not cross-pollination is required in order to attain adequate fruit-load.
For this study, all 12 plants will be self-pollinated and cross-pollinated. There will be 3 different treatments each replicated twice. Once this is done, the rates of fruit set per flower pollinated will be determined to evaluate the ability of each of the 12 selections to self-fertilize.
Carleo said, “The results of this research will reveal new information about beach plum biology that will assist commercial growers in production, economic and crop development success. This crop is also unique to our coastal environment and offers great opportunities for marketing and agritourism.”
Dave Van Vorst, President of the CMCBPA said, “There has never been any research done on the beach plum as to determine whether pollination by pollinators is required for fruit set. This study will expand our understanding of the beach plum characteristics.”
Progress on commercialization of the beach plum by the growers in Cape May County has been slow but sure. According to Van Vorst, 2016 was the worst year, in ten years, for beach plum farmers and it was consistent from Maryland to Sandy Hook. In 2016, Van Vorst farm’s production went from 18,000 pounds to 200 pounds. The data from this two-year study, which will show if weather plays a factor and if cross pollination is necessary, will be very helpful to the beach plum farmer.
Funds for this grant were raised through the Cape May County Beach Plum Association’s annual Oyster and Clam Roast. The CMCBPA is dedicated to the promotion and cultivation of the Beach Plum. The Beach Plum has many uses, not only as a new food crop, but for its dune conservation as well as other horticultural applications. The Association’s main goal is to support the development of an integrated system for a sustainable Beach Plum Industry in Southern New Jersey.
For more information about the Beach Plum Self Pollination Study or the Cape May County
Agricultural and Natural Resources Division, please call 465-5115. Ext. 607.