Fruit and Vegetables

Apricot - Prunus armeniaca


Generalitа


Prunus armeniaca is a plant of Chinese origin, some claim it may come from the areas of Persia and Armenia. Tree of medium size, generally reaches 5-7 m in height, has thin and smooth heart-shaped leaves, the flowers are pinkish white.
It produces egg-shaped fruits with a skin that varies in color, depending on the variety, from light yellow to intense orange. The pulp is tender, juicy and has a high content of vitamin A. Apricots, besides being used for fresh consumption, are used by the industry for the production of juices, syrups, jams, mustards, etc. Generally, all varieties of apricot are self-fertile, however the presence of different varieties greatly increases the production of fruits. The apricot prefers areas with a temperate climate but is widespread and cultivated even in colder areas; it fears strong winds and, due to its early flowering, even late frosts that can cause serious damage to flowering and consequently also to fruit production.

Rootstock


The apricot can be grafted onto different types of plants, frank, myrobalan plum, peach and almond are used. However, the commonly used subject and the myrobalan plum, which has no particular soil requirements, has excellent affinity and rapid development, the plants are vigorous, long-lived and fruit early. With the graft on the peach tree little vigorous and long-lived plants are obtained but very productive, some varieties of apricots are of better quality and have an early maturation.

Composting



As with many other plants, also for apricot trees it is advisable to use organic fertilizers such as manure or manure during the vegetative rest period, while in spring-summer, NPK fertilizers can be used, ie nitrogen based, phosphorus and potassium avoiding to use them during the hottest and dry periods.
To always maintain optimal substrate quality, it is advisable to distribute a good quantity of flour or pellet manure, in the middle of autumn and possibly also in early spring, so as to cover the area under the foliage.
The actual fertilization of Prunus armeniaca is instead carried out at the beginning of spring by spreading and incorporating a product for fruit trees (where more potassium than nitrogen). We then repeat the administration at the time of setting. For the quantities let's stick to what is recommended on the package.





































































APRICOT IN BRIEF
Family, genus, species Rosaceae, prunus armeniaca
Type of plant Fruit tree
Foliage caduco
Height at maturity From 2 to 10 m
Spacing From 3 to 6 m
Maintenance Easy
Growth From normal to fast
Water needs low
Exposure Sun
Ground Well drained limestone
soil pH neutral
Soil humidity dry
Resistance to cold Moderately resistant; flowering sensitive to late frosts
Propagation Sowing, grafting with dormant or split gem
Forms of farming In full wind, a dwarf vase, a palmette, an espalier
Pests and diseases Aphids, ants, bubble, jewelery, powdery mildew, gummy

Illnesses



The animal parasites that most attack the apricot are in particular the aphids, which develop on the ends of the shoots. Possible are also attacks of cochineals which, if present in a massive way, can cause a general weakening of the plant with damages to the fruits. Another parasite that causes significant damage is the moth that penetrates the buds and young shoots, rapidly dissecting them
Pathogens of fungal origin to which the apricot is subject are the corineum which produces spots on the leaf that necrotize the tissues leaving them pricked and the monilia that strikes branches and fruits that once infected become rotten.

In full wind


The apricot lends itself well to be formed in full wind (natural growth). It is possible to form the foliage on a medium stem at about 120 cm, or with a tall stem at about 180-200 cm, therefore a sucker of one year will be planted and it will have to be immediately cut to the desired height after which, the following year, at least three branches will be preserved, which will have to be shortened to 20-25 cm from the starting point, these will in turn produce other branches that will also be shortened. By doing this you will strengthen the trunk, the branches that will grow later will be sufficient to form the final crown. In the following years, during the vegetative rest, only internal thinning of the foliage and the elimination of dry branches will be done.

A dwarf vase


To form the pot it is necessary to plant a sucker for one year and cut it at 40-50 cm from the ground. At the beginning of the second year at least 30 vigorous branches will be shortened to 30-40 cm, keeping them away from the center, which in turn will give other branches of which only the external ones will be preserved. Also shorten these branches again so as to further strengthen the plant, after which the growth will be left free by practicing only some thinning pruning eliminating the disordered branches.

A palmette or espalier


It is probably the best training to carry out even in the garden, it is well suited to decorate walls and fences and, considering that the apricot is sensitive to the strong cold winter winds, it is preferable to plant it on the south side to obtain the best results. In this case you will have to plant a sucker of one year cut at 50 cm from the ground and the following year keep at least four branches to place them two on each side and one to let grow vertically, all fixed to a trellis or other support. The following year, pruning will be carried out to check and strengthen the lateral branches, while more energetic pruning will be carried out on the vertical arrow to ensure replacement with new branches.

Exposure and climate for the apricot



The apricot is a tree that tolerates even very low temperatures (around -15 ° C) when it is in vegetative rest. However, it has the defect of flowering very early (first, for example, of peach trees and cherry trees). In the case of late frosts, therefore, it is not uncommon to lose all of the vintage production due to this.
If we live in the northern regions or in the highlands the advice is to place the apricot in a position reached all day by the rays of the sun and sheltered from cold winds. Furthermore, when choosing the specimen, we ask for a modern variety with a flowering that is as late as possible.
However it is good to point out that, although very rustic, the apricot is a distinctly thermophilic plant. It grows and fructifies quickly and abundantly, especially in areas with a Mediterranean climate.

Apricot soil


The ancient varieties of this fruit-bearing plant favor calcareous and very well-drained soils: it was not rare, in the past, for radical asphyxia to arise. Today cultivation can finally be carried out on any substrate provided that the apricot is grafted onto the suitable subject. For example, on very clayey soils it is good to require the myrobalan or plum tree as a rootstock. On medium textured soils it is advisable to pair it with wild peach. The very loose soils are perfect for seed-born apricots or grafted on wild apricots. In any case, taking care of the planting is always decisive for obtaining excellent results in a short time.

































THE APRICOT CALENDAR
Planting October-November (Center-South); March (North and high ground)
Flowering February-April
Collection June August
Training pruning July August
Cleaning End of winter
sowing November
Sleeping-bud graft July August

How and when to plant the albiccoco



When?
The best time to plant an apricot is generally the beginning of winter: proceeding in this way, the plant will have already been slightly stamped on the arrival of summer and we can immediately count on good vegetative growth.
An important obstacle, however, is the climate: small subjects can suffer considerable damage from prolonged frosts and winds. In these cases we can choose whether to wait for the beginning of spring (February-April) or to cover the specimen with special insulating material.
How to proceed?
We dig a large and deep hole at least twice the earth bread, vigorously breaking the walls with a pitchfork. We create a thick draining layer based on gravel and another with very seasoned manure. We mix the extracted earth with a little soil-soil improver and sand (especially if the first is compact and clayey). We cover up to ground level and compress with our feet. Let us water abundantly. If the plant were bare-rooted, it is advisable, before implantation, to proceed with the lifting, which rehydrates the roots, allowing a more rapid recovery.
In case we have to insert more plants we leave from 3.5 to 6 meters between one and the other, taking into account the final dimensions that will reach. This figure depends largely on the variety, the rootstock and how we want to set the subject.

Crop care


The apricot, once set, does not require much maintenance. As we have said, it is indeed a tree that prefers dry soils and irrigations, except in the case of exceptional droughts, will be completely superfluous, in particular after the first year of adjustment. Even young plants must be pushed as much as possible to be autonomous in this respect. The ideal is to intervene only when there are obvious signs of suffering (hanging leaves that begin to turn yellow).

Pests and diseases of the apricot


The apricot in the health aspect is very similar to the peach tree, given that it suffers broadly from the same diseases.
For example it is rather subject to peach bubble (Taphrina deformans) which causes major damage to the plant and harvest. It shows with gems, leaves and fruits visibly deformed. In particular the leaves dry up falling: consequently the plant cannot complete the setting and the ripening of the fruits. To prevent its appearance, it is important to perform two Bordeaux-based mash treatments annually: in autumn and spring, before the flowers open (on the "brown").
Other frequent affections are powdery mildew and jewelery, both to be treated with specific products.
We also report bacterial cancer and pitting of stone fruit, unfortunately very difficult to fight once contracted.
Furthermore, it is very common on apricot trees gummy: it is not caused by a specific pathogen, but it is a clear signal of general tree suffering, in particular of the root system (probably due to water stagnation). In other cases it intervenes in the presence of phytophages or fungi. The best remedies are to carry out preventive treatments with cupric. It is also useful to improve the soil with soil improvers.
In case there are desiccations we eliminate the affected branches and we cover the cut with some mastic and we carefully eliminate all the secretions.

Flowering, pollination and apricot harvest



Apricot trees bloom, depending on our climate and the variety (more or less early) between February and April. It is certainly the most delicate phase since a temperature of -2 ° C is enough to ruin the flowers once and for all. Other important dangers, which heavily affect pollination (which occurs thanks to insects), are wind and persistent rain.
In a good year a ripe apricot may give 30 to 50 kg of fruit, about 3-4 months after flowering. They are ready to be harvested when, turning them slightly, they detach themselves from the plant.

Apricot preservation


Apricots, especially if harvested ripe, are preserved for a short time. The ideal is to consume them as soon as possible and possibly keep them for a few days in the lower part of the refrigerator. Alternatively we can choose to pick them up a little harder and wait for their maturation at home.
To further preserve an abundant harvest, we can however choose to make good jams or create jars of fruit in syrup.

Variety



When choosing our apricot we need to keep in mind several variables. One of the most important is certainly, as we have already mentioned, the age of flowering with reference to our climate. It is also important if the subject is self-fertile, which will allow us to have even just one tree.
Other important characteristics are the final dimensions and the tree bearing as well as the organoleptic qualities of the fruits. In recent years, moreover, also thanks to the combination with new rootstocks, it is possible to choose varieties resistant to viral and bacteriosis.
Here are some of the best known:
Among the early events we report Aurora (very early, but not self-fertile), Antonio Errani (excellent taste, but needs its own specific pollinator), Bella d'Imola (with firm and tasty pulp, subject to jewelery), Harcot (self-incompatible, large red fruits)
Some very common averages are: Palumella (very productive, suitable for conservation), arcades (very productive and tasty, very adaptable to different climates), Reale d'Imola (very productive and constant, sour pulp).
Among the late events we recall: Luizet, self-fertile with very large fruits, Goldrich, requires fertilization, acidulous fruits suitable for conservation, Pisana, high and constant production, very tasty pulp.

Apricot tree - Prunus armeniaca: Sowing an apricot tree


Getting a seed apricot tree can be useful in several cases: some ancient varieties can be reproduced very faithfully and, in suitable soils, they are still capable of giving great satisfaction. In addition, a wild can be useful for grafting other compatible plants including apricot trees (perhaps of a more precocious or late variety), thus allowing a scalar collection.
It begins in the month of November, proceeding with the vernalization of seeds (“noccioli”): they must be placed in a substrate composed of 50% of soil and 50% of sand. Everything should always be kept slightly damp outside. If where we live winters are mild, we put everything in the refrigerator.
Germination should take place around February-March: we will see the first radicle emerge from the shell, now very soft.
We move each one into a single jar with a compound a little more compact than the previous one. The plant is ready for transplanting or to be used as a rootstock after about a year.
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