Apricot: Bare Root Fruit Plant
How to Plant
Planting Bare Root Plants:
- Choose a site in full sun in an area with well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0. Make sure there is some protection from the prevailing winds. Northern exposures are less prone to late spring frosts, and are more likely to have more snow cover. This protects the plants from soil heaving in winter. Do not plant in the root zone of black walnut trees. Avoid heavy clay soil as well as sandy soil. Amend as needed with organic matter.
- Apricot trees are semi-self-pollinating, with ‘Blenheim’ as self-pollinating. Two different varieties can help fruit production. Be sure to plant pollinator trees within 50 feet of each other.
- Space trees 12-18 feet apart.
- Plant dormant bare root plants in spring as soon as the soil may be worked.
- Soak the roots in water 1-2 hours before planting.
- Cut the tree back to approximately 30 inches tall at planting. Cut side branches back to 3-4 buds.
- The planting hole should be large enough to hold all the roots without bending or bunching up. Dig holes at least 18 inches deep and wide. Break up hard pan soil layers if present. Do not add raw fertilizers or manure to the soil mixture. Over feeding can kill young trees.
- Set the budded or grafted tree in the planting hole so that roots lie naturally, with the bud union just above the soil level after planting. Fill in the soil in layers and tamp down around the roots to make sure there is good soil to root contact and to remove air pockets.
- Water immediately to saturate all soil and roots in the hole. After the soil around the plant has settled, make sure the bud union is at the proper height above the soil level. Adjust as needed. Leaves should emerge 6-8 weeks after planting once the weather has warmed.
How to Grow
- When rainfall is not adequate, water newly transplanted trees deeply at least once a week during the first growing season. Apply 3-4 gallons of water per tree. Hoe a small ridge of soil around each tree to keep water from running off.
- A nitrogen fertilizer should be applied to newly transplanted fruit trees 3-4 weeks after planting. Be sure to keep granular fertilizers from direct contact with the tree trunk.
- Do not cultivate the soil surface within the area of the planting hole.
- Mulch 2-3 inches deep, extending 3-4 feet around the base of the tree, using shredded leaves or other organic matter.
- Use tree guards, cages, fencing or deer bags to prevent damage from mice, rabbits, deer and other wildlife.
- Monitor for Pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.
- Pruning is done early to control the shape and health of the tree, by developing a strong, well-balanced framework of scaffold branches. Do not cut back by more than 1/3 of the size of the plant. Prune regularly to avoid making large cuts later. Do not leave stubs, which can die off later and harbor diseases. Cut off all diseased, weak and dead wood. Prune in late winter; do not prune from January to March. Apricot and Peach relatives should not be pruned when freezing temperatures could damage wood.
Harvest and Preserving Tips
- A full harvest can range from 5-10 years after planting, 7 years after planting being the average.
- Harvest time peaks in July in mild climates and August in colder climates.
- Pick when fruits have full color and the skin gives slightly when pressed.
- Store apricots at room temperature until ripe, then in the refrigerator in a perforated plastic bag for 3-5 days.
Common Disease Problems
Bacterial Leaf Spot: First signs are small translucent spots with a broad yellowish edge that slowly enlarge and become angular or irregularly circular with a reddish center. It thrives in cooler temperatures. The disease may also affect and disfigure flower heads. Burpee Recommends: Remove infected plants. Avoid overhead watering. Do not work around plants when they are wet.
Crown Gall: This is caused by a bacteria and causes galls (masses of plant tissue) to form on roots, root crowns, stems and branches. The galls can interfere with the ability of water to move through the tissue, affecting plant vigor and causing stunted plants. Burpee Recommends: There is no cure for this disease; remove and destroy infected plants. Do not divide or propagate infected plants.
Powdery Mildew: This fungus disease occurs on the top of the leaves in humid weather conditions. The leaves appear to have a whitish or greyish surface and may curl. Powdery mildew of fruit will have the same symptoms until later in the spring when the fungus dries, falls off, and a russet tone appears. Burpee Recommends: Avoid powdery mildew by providing good air circulation for the plants by good spacing and pruning. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.
Root Rots: A number of pathogens cause root rots of seedlings as well as mature roots. Burpee Recommends: Practice crop rotation and do not plant related crops in the same area for several years. Pull up and discard infected plants. Make sure your soil has excellent drainage. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.
Verticillium Wilt: This fungus causes a wilting of the leaves and stems on several branches. Leaf margins cup upward, leaves turn yellow and drop off. If fruit is produced, it is usually smaller than normal. Like fusarium this will enter through the roots, migrating up the stem and plugging a plant's transport vessels. It is transmitted in the soil. It can also be spread by water and tools. Burpee Recommends: Remove and burn crop debris. Plant resistant varieties.
Common Pest and Cultural Problems
Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps which feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.
Japanese Beetles: Burpee Recommends: Hand pick early in the morning into a bucket of soapy water.
Leafroller: This is a caterpillar or pupa inside a folded leaf tied with silk that feeds on leaves and fruit surfaces. It overwinters as pupae or eggs, depending on the species, and emerges in the spring. Burpee Recommends: Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for insecticide recommendations.
Spider Mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for miticide recommendations.
Thrips: Thrips are tiny needle-thin insects that are black or straw colored. They suck the juices of plants and attack flower petals, leaves and stems. The plant will have a stippling, discolored flecking or silvering of the leaf surface. Thrips can spread many diseases from plant to plant. Burpee Recommends: Many thrips may be repelled by sheets of aluminum foil spread between rows of plants. Remove weeds from the bed and remove debris from the bed after frost. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls.
Do I need two different apricot varieties for cross pollination? Apricots are semi self-pollinating, but produce better crops with two varieties.
When will my tree bear fruit? Trees should bear fruit in 3-4 years, with full fruiting in 5-7 years.
Can I grow apricot trees in my zone 9/10 garden? Most varieties have too high a chill hour requirement (they need cold winter temperatures) for zones 9 and 10, however, ‘Canadian White Blenheim’ has a low chill hour requirement of 700 hours below 45 degrees and can grow in zones 9 and sometimes 10