The Q&A Archives: Apricots

Question: We've got a 20 foot apricot; (when we planted it we were told it was a mini). The tree bears profusely; much later than all other apricots in our area - it's ripening now (mid-July) - but it always ripens with the skins barely orange to pale yellow. Often traces of green remain. When the fruit does go to full apricot orange/yellow it is almost invariably overripe and ready to fall. Many of the fruit also have a somewhat browish blush to side of the fruit. We love the tree, the fruit's delicious - but is this normal or are we doing something wrong. The tree gets full sun; is fertilized with bird manure and is never specifically watered.

Answer: Let's address the easiest part of your question first: the brownish blush on one side of the fruit is simply a sunburn. It indicates which side gets the most direct sunshine and the blush shouldn't affect the quality of the fruit. Apricots should ripen on the tree, and they can become fully mature in the span of 24 hours. So, you'll need to check your tree daily and harvest the ripest fruit. If not all the fruit is ripening, I'd guess that the tree is setting more fruit than it is capable of maturing. You can change this by thinning the fruit when it first begins to develop. With fewer fruit to ripen, the tree can put more of its energy into those fruit, producing larger, more flavorful fruit. Finally, the end product will be influenced by the cultivar of apricot you're growing. Some trees produce better quality fruit than others. Try thinning the fruit to see how much difference it makes in next year's crop. Enjoy your apricots!

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