The Q&A Archives: Apricots split open and rotted

Question: This year my apricot tree produced an abundance of fruit, but much of it was split open and rotted before we could harvest it. What is causing the fruit to split? Bev Conover Sparta, NJ

Answer: Blame it on the weather, says Tony Hopfinger, stone fruit specialist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Sometimes the flowers survive spring frost, but the frost has damaged the developing seeds, causing fruit splitting later. Heavy rains during fruit development also have a similar effect. Rains cause the stone to harden improperly and the flesh to swell unevenly, he says. You can't stop the rain, but you can try to limit cold injury damage. Since apricots bloom three to four weeks before our last frost date, the flowers are very vulnerable. Avoid planting in warm spots like the south side of buildings or near roads, where spring bloom will be even earlier. Varieties like Goldcot and Jerseycot bloom later and grow well in New Jersey, says Hopfinger. Hand thinning damaged fruit will help. Frost doesn't necessarily injure all the fruits on the tree, Hopfinger explains. Thin the frost injured fruits ones that are lopsided and irregularly shaped when they are one inch in diameter, leaving at least two inches between healthy fruits.

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