Požega Plum

Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves - Serbia

The Pozega plum is an old plum variety that used to be a leading variety in Serbia present in every household. Fruit matures from late August to late September, depending on altitude. This variety can be grafted on to the wild plum tree varieties Dzenarika and Belošljivu. The fruits can range in size, and are oblong or elliptical in shape, with a shallow furrow running the length of the fruit. The skin is thin, firm and dark blue in color and develops an ashy gray coating. The flesh is firm and golden in color, and juicy, aromatic and sweet-and-sour in flavor. It separates easily from the pit. Once harvested, the fruit can be stored refrigerated for up to a month, and is suitable for fresh eating as well as drying, making jams and compotes and brandy. It is less popular for fresh eating due to its relatively small size. The best-known products made with Pozega plum are skljivko (plum cake) and Serbian sljivovica brandy, which was originally made only with the Pozega plums. Plums have been grown in Serbia for centuries, and were widely planted especially after 1878, when the spread of the phylloxera pest destroyed grapevine production, therefore increasing brandy production levels. Until the late 19th and early 20th century, the Pozega plum could be found in large quantities and in a number of transformed products throughout the country. However, this variety is susceptible to various diseases, especially to Plum pox virus (though there are are clones that are tolerant to this virus). In 1917, this virus emerged from neighboring Bulgaria, leading to the decline in production of this variety. Pozega plums can still be found in western Serbia, but have been for the most part abandoned in eastern, central and southern Serbia. These plums, and facilities for drying them, were especially common in the Valjevo region, but today much of this equipment has been lost to disuse and only small isolated orchards still grow the Pozega plum, mostly for private use. It is unknown exactly how many trees are still productive, as often the plums are mixed with those of other varieties in making jams or compotes. Pozega plums are particularly valued, however, in brandy production. Because plant material for the Pozega plum was produced by grafting onto the wild Dzenarika plum, which had a negative impact on fruit size, it has consequently become less competitive in the world market despite the quality of the fruit flesh. The American species Stanley, a variety with larger fruit and tolerant of the pox virus, quickly spread throughout Serbia and carries a pox virus that will later spread throughout the country and contribute to rapid deterioration the Pozega plum where it is still grown. In the absence of dedicated work on the eradication of sick trees, Pozega plantations are quickly disappearing.