Apricot trees are a beautiful addition to any garden or orchard. They produce delicious fruit that can be eaten fresh or used in a variety of recipes.
Growing apricot trees can be a rewarding experience, but it requires some knowledge and care to ensure a healthy and productive tree.
- Apricots prefer areas with warm, dry summers and cold winters and require full sun and well-draining soil to thrive.
- Choose a location that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day and has soil rich in organic matter.
- Prune apricot trees in the late winter or early spring before the tree starts to bud to promote healthy growth and fruit production.
- Thin the fruit on the tree to prevent overcrowding and ensure that the remaining fruit is of good quality.
Apricot Tree Growing Requirements
Apricot trees are popular fruit trees that can be grown in many different climates. However, there are certain requirements that need to be met in order to grow healthy and productive apricot trees.
Apricot trees need a long, warm growing season to ripen their fruit, but they also require a certain amount of winter chill hours in order to produce fruit.
The chill hours required depend on the variety, but in general, apricot trees need 600-900 chill hours.
Apricot trees prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. They do not tolerate heavy, poorly drained soil. The ideal soil pH for apricot trees is between 6.0 and 7.0.
Apricot trees require full sunlight to produce fruit. They should be planted in a location that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
Apricot trees require regular watering, especially during the growing season. They should be watered deeply once a week or more often if the weather is hot and dry.
However, they do not tolerate wet feet, so it is important to ensure that the soil drains quickly.
Most apricot trees are self-fruitful, meaning they do not require a second tree for pollination. However, cross-pollination can increase fruit set and yield.
If you have room for more than one apricot tree, planting two or more varieties to ensure good cross-pollination is recommended.
Selecting Your Apricot Tree
When it comes to selecting your tree(s), you have dozens of varieties from which to choose, and different sizes are available as well. If possible, speak with local growers to get advice on which varieties perform well in your area.
Choosing an apricot variety well-suited for your climate and growing conditions is important. Some popular apricot varieties include:
- Royal Rosa
Each variety has its own unique flavor and texture, so it’s important to do your research and choose a variety that will suit your taste preferences.
Dwarf, Semi-Dwarf or Standard
Apricot trees come in three different sizes: dwarf, semi-dwarf, and standard. The size you choose will depend on the amount of space you have available and your personal preference.
|Dwarf||6-8 feet||10-12 feet|
|Semi-Dwarf||12-15 feet||15-20 feet|
|Standard||18-25 feet||25-30 feet|
Dwarf trees are ideal for small spaces or container gardening, while semi-dwarf and standard trees are better suited for larger gardens or orchards.
When selecting your apricot tree, be sure to choose a healthy specimen with a strong, straight trunk and no signs of disease or damage.
Planting Your Apricot Tree
Planting an apricot tree requires careful consideration of the tree’s needs and the environment in which it will grow. Here are some tips to help you successfully plant your apricot tree:
Choosing the Right Location
- Apricot trees need full sun, so choose a spot that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.
- The soil should drain readily and be rich in nutrients. Avoid planting in areas with heavy clay or compacted soil.
- Apricot trees need good air circulation, so avoid planting in areas with high wind or areas that are too close to other trees or structures.
Preparing the Soil
- Remove any weeds, rocks, or debris from the planting area.
- Loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches.
- Add organic matter, such as compost or aged manure, to the soil to improve its fertility and structure.
Planting the Tree
When planting your apricot tree, follow these steps:
- Dig a hole that is slightly larger than the root ball of the tree.
- Place the tree in the hole, making sure that the graft union is above the soil line.
- Backfill the hole with soil, gently packing it around the roots.
- Water the tree thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots.
Watering Your Apricot Tree
Apricot trees require regular watering to produce healthy fruit. The amount of water required depends on the climate, soil type, and age of the tree.
Young trees require more water than mature trees. Consider the following tips when watering:
- Water your tree deeply but infrequently. This means watering the tree to a depth of at least 18 inches but only once or twice a week.
- Water your tree early in the morning or late in the evening to reduce evaporation loss.
- Apply water slowly to allow it to soak into the soil. Avoid applying water too quickly as this can cause runoff, which wastes water.
- Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation system to deliver water directly to the roots of the tree.
- Monitor soil moisture regularly. Stick your finger into the soil to a depth of a few inches. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water.
- Do not overwater your apricot tree as this can lead to root rot and other problems.
Apricot Tree Fertilizer
A balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium is ideal for apricot trees. A ratio of 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 is recommended. (This organic blend is excellent!)
However, avoid over-fertilization, as this can lead to excessive vegetative growth and reduced fruit production.
It is best to apply fertilizer in the spring, just before the tree starts to bud. This is when the tree is most active and can best utilize the nutrients.
You can also apply a second round of fertilizer in the summer after the fruit has started to develop.
When applying fertilizer, spread it evenly around the base of the tree, avoiding direct contact with the trunk.
You can use a broadcast spreader or apply the fertilizer by hand, but remember to water the area thoroughly after applying the fertilizer to help it soak into the soil.
In addition to traditional fertilizers, organic options such as compost and manure can also be used to fertilize apricot trees.
These can be applied in the same manner as traditional fertilizers, but they may require additional time to break down and release their nutrients.
Pests & Diseases To Watch For
Apricot trees are generally hardy and resistant to most pests and diseases. However, there are a few common issues that you should be aware of:
- Aphids: These tiny insects feed on the sap of the leaves and stems, causing them to curl and distort. They can be controlled with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
- Spider mites: These pests are common in hot, dry weather and can cause yellowing and browning of the leaves. They can be controlled with a strong jet of water or insecticidal soap.
- Codling moths: These pests lay their eggs on the fruit, causing wormy, damaged fruit. They can be controlled with pheromone traps or insecticides.
- Leaf spot: This fungal disease causes brown spots on the leaves, which can eventually lead to defoliation. It can be controlled with fungicides or by removing infected leaves.
- Brown rot: This fungal disease affects the fruit, causing it to rot and become mushy. It can be controlled by removing infected fruit and spraying with fungicides.
- Bacterial canker: This bacterial disease causes sunken, oozing lesions on the bark and can eventually kill the tree. It can be prevented by planting disease-resistant varieties and pruning infected branches.
Pruning Your Apricot Tree
Pruning is an essential part of growing apricot trees. It helps to shape the tree, control its size, and improve fruit production. The following tips will help guide you:
- Prune your tree in late winter or early spring while the tree is dormant.
- Remove any dead, diseased, or damaged branches. These can be identified by their brown color, lack of leaves or fruit, or sunken areas on the bark.
- Thin out any branches that are crossing or rubbing against each other. This will prevent damage and improve air circulation.
- Remove branches growing straight up or down as these are unlikely to produce fruit.
- Prune back the tips of the remaining branches to encourage new growth and fruit production.
Use sharp, clean tools to prevent damage and disease. You may also want to consider using pruning sealant on larger cuts to help prevent infection.
Remember, every apricot tree is different, and the amount and type of pruning needed may vary depending on the tree’s age, size, and health.
Thinning Fruits for Better Harvest
Thinning fruits help the tree to allocate its resources more efficiently, resulting in larger and healthier fruits.
- Start thinning when the fruits are about the size of a marble. This is usually around May or June.
- Remove the smallest and all damaged fruits first. These fruits are unlikely to mature properly and will only drain the tree’s resources.
- Leave a space of about 6 inches between the remaining fruits. This will give them enough room to grow and prevent them from rubbing against each other.
- Thin the fruits gradually over several weeks to avoid stressing the tree. Remove no more than 30% of the fruits in one session.
- Use clean, sharp pruning shears to avoid damaging the tree or spreading diseases.
Thinning your apricot tree can be time-consuming, but it’s worth the effort.
Not only will it result in a better harvest, but it will also help to prevent the tree from becoming overburdened and potentially breaking under the weight of the fruits.
After months of hard work, the time has finally come to harvest your apricot trees. Harvest time typically occurs in mid to late summer, depending on your region and the specific variety of apricot tree you have.
Keep an eye on your trees to ensure you harvest at the right time to ensure the best fruit flavor and quality.
When it comes to harvesting apricots, handle the fruit with care to avoid bruising or damaging the delicate skin.
The best way to harvest apricots is by handpicking each fruit. Simply grasp the fruit gently, and twist it off the branch. Be sure to handle the fruit as little as possible to avoid bruising.
Once you’ve harvested your apricots, store them properly to maintain their freshness and flavor. Apricots can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or frozen for later use.
To freeze apricots, simply wash and pit the fruit, then place it in a freezer-safe container or bag. Frozen apricots can be used in a variety of recipes, including jams, pies, and smoothies.
Finally, don’t forget to lightly prune your apricot trees after harvest to promote healthy growth and fruit production for the following year.