Did you know that apricot trees can produce fruit for 25 years? When grown in the right conditions, the apricot tree can start producing fruit in the third year. However, some varieties take a little longer. When you grow your own apricot trees, you will get more than fresh, juicy fruits. You will also have an ornamental tree which will look awesome in your home.
Unlike many fruit trees which require a pollination partner, the apricot tree is self-pollinating.
If you are growing apricot trees for the first time, it is best to know everything about them before embarking on this enlightening journey.
Apricot tree facts
Apricots have been in existence for more than 40 centuries. This Mediterranean fruit tree grows well in regions where summer and spring seasons are warm. However, the apricot tree also needs 300-1000 chill hours to bear fruit.
Although the apricot tree generally favours warm conditions, some hardy varieties can withstand the cold weather. Some of the popular hardy varieties include Royal Blenheim, Tilton, Moorpark, Goldrich, and Harglow.
Hardy apricot varieties are not only important for cold regions, but they are an awesome choice for places that experience sudden cold snaps.
Apricots are stone fruits like cherries, peaches, and plums. Some people opt to plant new trees from the stone. However, most fruit trees grown this way rarely produce fruit. So, if your ultimate goal is the orange, velvety fruits, it is best to get grafted apricot trees.
When apricot trees bloom with the pinkish-white flowers, it takes about 120 days for the tree to start producing fruit.
Apricot trees vary in size. Most reach maturity at the height of 15-30 feet. When buying an apricot fruit tree, it is best to find out about the mature height of the different varieties so you can get one that is ideal for you.
Once you have ascertained that your environment is ideal for growing apricots, you are ready to grow apricot trees.
Choose the ideal site
Apricot trees need full sun to grow. Opt for a spot that receives plenty of sunshine. Avoid spaces too close to other trees, as they may create a shade that will interfere with the apricot tree’s growth.
Additionally, the area needs to be spacious enough to accommodate a mature tree’s deep roots and spread branches. Avoid planting the tree close to your house, power line, and underground pipes.
Prepare the soil
Apricot trees thrive in well-drained loamy soil, with a pH of between 6.5 and 8.0. This helps the tree to develop a strong root system, which is essential for a higher yield.
You can test the soil’s drainage by digging a hole one foot deep. Fill it with water, then check the next day. Fill it with water again, and check the movement of water every hour.
If the soil drains at least 2 inches of water an hour, the drainage is adequate for growing apricot trees. If the soil drains less than an inch of water per hour, then it has poor drainage.
Fruit trees grown in soil that drains slowly are susceptible to diseases and root rot.
You can improve soil drainage by adding organic matter. Dig up some of the soil where you intend to plant the apricot tree, mix it with organic matter, then put it back in the ground. Test the soil again in a week or two to confirm if the drainage has improved.
Besides improving the soil’s drainage, the organic matter will add nutrients to the soil.
How to care for apricot trees
Apricot trees are not high-maintenance plants. Once the growing conditions are met, the trees will thrive. You only need to ensure the conditions for growth and fruit production are ideal.
- Water the trees once a week with at least 2.5cm of water, especially when it starts blooming and fruiting. Drip irrigation is ideal since it keeps the leaves, flowers, or fruits from getting wet.
- Use a low-nitrogen fertilizer in late winter and late summer.
- Prune diseased or dead branches annually.
- Once the tree starts fruiting, thin the fruits to about 2 inches apart so you can get larger fruits.
- You can avoid pest and disease attacks by applying fungicide spray in spring.
Apricots are rich in vitamins, potassium, and flavonoids. The potassium supports your heart’s health, as well as the nerve and muscle functions. Flavonoids strengthen your blood vessels, while vitamins improve your skin’s health.
When you grow and adequately care for apricot fruit trees, you will have a regular supply of apricots at a low cost.