We love apricots, but we hate them a little bit too, because they get SO many diseases, are prone to frost, and can generally be very fussy to grow.
This photo is a variety called ‘Earlicot’, which, as you’ve probably guessed, is very early! We planted them because they help to start the fruit season earlier which spreads the harvest over a longer period and therefore increases food security.
But there’s also a downside to this variety – they like to crack! They are particularly prone to doing this in a wet year, but even in a relatively dry spring some of them always crack regardless.
From a home garden point of view they’re not a dead loss, as they’ll usually hang on to the tree and ripen anyway, and can be used for jam or preserving (or eating, if you don’t care what they look like!).
Another thing that can happen at this time of year is a disease called Freckle.
Freckle can even show up on your leaves…
A really bad case will definitely downgrade an apricot from a “first” to a “second” grade, but this is usually just a cosmetic problem that affects the skin, and the fruit underneath will be perfectly good to eat and delicious.
It’s just one of a number of fungal diseases that can affect different types of fruit, and is prevented with a spray regime using organic fungicides, as well as good hygiene practices.
Last but not least, here’s a great example of how resilient your apricot tree can be, and how it can turn something bad into something good.
You can see the remnant evidence of Blossom blight on this shoot, where the flowers rotted and died, and then the shoot also died back. But the tree has managed to isolate the disease, stop it spreading any further back towards the trunk, and has then put out three magnificent new, strong shoots – healthy new growth to replace the old!
Apricots are fussy, but they’re also tough – and of course they’re absolutely worth persevering with because they are one of those fruits that suffer most from modern picking and storage techniques, making it hard to find that “home-grown” deliciousness when you buy them off the shelf. If you’re keen to go pro with your apricot tree check out our short course devoted to all things apricot-y.