We love apricots, but we hate them a little bit too.
They get SO many diseases, they’re vulnerable to frost, and they can generally just be very fussy to grow. (To find out more how frost can damage crops, read this BOM blog).
This photo (above) is a variety called ‘Earlicot’, which, as you’ve probably guessed, is very early. We chose it because it helps to start the fruit season earlier, which spreads the harvest over a longer period. Having a long harvest is a great way to increase your food security.
So what’s not to love about these apricots?
There’s also a downside to this variety – they love to crack. They are particularly prone to doing so in a wet year (like this one), 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. They’re still fine to eat if you don’t care what they look like. They’re also absolutely delicious made up as jam or preserved.
Earlicot are particularly prone to cracking, but it’s a common trait in many apricot varieties. It’s one of the reasons they can be a tricky customer in your garden.
Another common affliction in your apricots 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. 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.
Give us some good news …
Apricots are not all bad news. 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 (above). First the flowers rotted and died, and then the shoot also died back.
But the tree has managed to isolate the disease and stop it spreading any further back towards the trunk, by isolating it with a blob of gum. Then it’s grown three magnificent new, strong shoots – healthy new growth to replace the old!
Apricots are fussy, but they’re also tough and you should definitely persevere with your apricot trees. This is particularly true 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 this short course devoted to all things apricot-y.