Apricot – Prunus armeniacum This time of year,
all the cherry trees are starting to pop into bloom and the same genus applies to Apricots.
Apricots belong to the same genus that includes cherries and plums, Prunus, a very large group
of plants. These are not selected for the beauty of their flowers but for the wonderful
flavor and production of the fruit. They do have a wonderful flowers though, I love the
flowers of of the apricots. They’re slightly fragrant, are five petaled with multiples
of five of all the stamens and other flower parts which are indicative of its familial
heritage in the rose family, Rosaceae. It shares that family with apples, pears and
many other what we call pomme fruits. You want to plant apricots where they are
protected from an early spring warm up. You want to suppress the time of bloom to a point
where, when they’re in bloom you won’t have a killing frost. So you don’t want to plant
this in a protected spot on the south side of a wall or a building, you wan to put it
where there’s lots of air drainage through it so that if it does frost, the frost will
sink to the bottom land nearby. You also want that good air drainage because this plant
shares the traits with many of its familial cousins that it’s subject to fungal problems
and by having good air movement through and around the plant, you can lessen a lot of
those problems. We also went good soil drainage. Average garden soil is good for most fruit
trees, it doesn’t have to be real rich and in fact it should not be real rich. You don’t
want to fertilize fruit trees with lots of nitrogen, you’d rather have a good, well drained
garden soil. You definitely want full sun for apricot trees. Apricots flower in mid to late April and then
produce the ripe fruit from about fourth of July to the middle of that month. The fruit
ripens pretty much all at once so it’s best to have your canning equipment ready for apricot
preserves, or have an apricot party. You can also use it to flavor wine and cordials, but
it’s best eaten fresh. Apricots in our climate here in Connecticut are a little bit of a
short lived plant. We planted this one as a bare rooted whip and got, a small handful
of apricots the second the second year. The third year we had enough to fill my hat or
maybe two, and then the fourth year we had almost a bushel. There are a number of disease and insect pests
to worry about with apricot trees and peaches and plums unless you have an active spraying
program. We don’t spray here, we prefer to use good cultural practices. Good cultural
practices for apricots include these: Clean up in the fall around the plant, get all the
leaves and debris from the apricot trees or other fruit trees. Pick that all up and get
it out , remove it from the site. When pruning apricot trees, you want to prune in such a
way as to provide as much sunlight penetrating the canopy and hitting the trunk and the branches
as possible. This will help dry out the apricot tree and helps prevent the fungal problems.
It’s also true that horizontally placed branches tend to flower more than branches that ascend
steeply and therefore bears more fruit. Apricots may be a short lived tree maybe ten or twelve
years so you’ll get eight, maybe nine years or so of fruit production out of out them
in our climate here in Connecticut, but it’s totally worth it. The taste of fresh, hand
picked, tree ripened apricots is something you won’t forget. It’s like biting into sunlight! Apricot – Prunus Armeniacum