The Q&A Archives: How to fertilize and prune an apricot tree

Question: To Whom it May Concern:
I would like to know the correct way to prune an apricot tree and what type of fertilizer is the best to use? Is it true you fertilize out to the longest point of the branch instead of around the base?
Thank you

Answer: The apricot produces most of its fruit on rather short- lived spurs. Prune mature trees to remove branches loaded with old spurs and keep the trees producing good replacement wood. This requires a combination of thinning out branches having many weak spurs and heading back long branches by one-third or to a strong lateral branch. Mature trees must make from 16 to 24 inches of new terminal growth a year to maintain satisfactory annual production. If less growth is made, the trees will fall into a biennial bearing habit and produce a large crop of small apricots every other year. Prune or head back the long branches in April.

Applying fertilizer at the dripline (the ends of the longest branches) ensures the entire root system will benefit from the nutrients in the fertilizer so this is where you should broadcast your fertilizer and then rake it into the top inch or so of soil. Generally, apricot trees need only one annual application of nitrogen to keep them happy and healthy. If your tree is planted in a lawn area, whatever you feed your lawn with will provide enough nitrogen for your tree to benefit. If it is not in a lawn area, use a fertilizer formulated for fruit trees, in amounts as recommended on the label.

Best wishes with your apricot tree!

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