Growing Apricots Successfully
Planting Dig hole at least one foot greater in diameter than the total spread of roots the depth of the longest root. Fill in lower 2 inches of hole with mixture of 50% native soil and a 50% mix of Soil Booster and 1-2 cups of Earthworm Castings . Press this mixture down firmly. Create a mound in the center of the hole with the soil mixture. Set tree upright in hole with stem in center. Spread out roots as evenly as possible over the mound of soil and back-fill mixture around all roots. Fill in hole completely and add 1 cup of fertilizer at this time (see below for recommendation). Make a basin for holding water by building a circular ridge around the diameter of the hole and fill slowly with water. The water will settle the soil around the roots. The graft should be positioned about 2 inches above ground level, facing north.
Watering Water when the soil 6 inches below the surface is just barely moist. Apply enough water to wet the soil 3 to 4 feet deep. Mature trees will require less watering, but should still get regular water during summer.
Feeding Feed three to four times during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer (16-16-16) such as E.B. Stone All Purpose Plant Food or E.B. Stone Citrus and Fruit Tree Food . Avoid fertilizers too high in nitrogen as they will stimulate leafy growth at the expense of fruit production. It is not necessary to fertilize during the dormant season.
When to Expect Fruit: New whips are about 2 years old, so small crops will begin in about 2 years.
Pruning: The success of any deciduous fruit tree depends a great deal upon the initial training it receives the first three years. These instructions apply to all deciduous fruit trees except pecans and walnuts.
1 st Year Cut off the main leader or central stem 30” from the ground. If there are any lateral (side) branches make the cut 30” above a good strong lateral branch. Select two other lateral branches, one about 8” below the top branch, the other 16” below. Make your selection of these branches so that when you look down the tree from directly above, the three branches spiral equally. By selecting branches spaced in this manner, the tree will develop a crotch that is less apt to split in later years. Head back any remaining branches to one-half of their original length. As the tree grows, allow only 2 buds on each branch to develop; one at the end and one halfway between the end and the base. Let these branches grow to their full development without further summer pruning and rub off any shoots that may appear on the trunk as suckers.
2nd Year Choose six well developed branches and cut back about two-thirds of their length. Cut just above a strong bud or lateral branch. Head back all other lateral branches to one-half of their length. To prune mature trees, remove dead, diseased and disoriented wood, especially those growing in towards the center of the tree. Keep the center open to light and air circulation. Apricots bear on fruiting spurs that live for three to four years. The majority of fruit is borne on one-year-old wood. Thinning is vital for apricots as the wood is brittle. Thin annually when fruits are ½” to ¾” across. Leave 5-6” between fruits. This ensures proper tree health, and ample subsequent crops.
Pests and Diseases Scale are insects that appear as crusty bumps. Young scale (crawlers) can be found a month after full bloom. Both can be killed with Summit Year Round Spray Oil , or smothered with Neem Oil. Bacterial Leaf Spot. Spray with Liquicop as soon as leaves shed in fall and again in spring as buds begin to fatten. In fall, remove and destroy infected twigs, old fallen fruit and leaves in which the disease organisms can survive the winter. Brown Rot. Blossoms and young leaves wilt, decay and turn brown. Apply Liquicop at detection and three weeks before harvest if needed (be sure to wash treated fruit). Clean up and destroy all debris regularly. Peach tree Borers. Holes appear in trunk and crotches. A thick gummy substance may ooze from holes. Apply an insecticide containing chlorpyrifos to trunk and lower branches (do NOT spray fruit or foliage). The following year, spray again in May or June. Shot hole fungus. This appears as small purplish spots on leaves and developing fruit in early spring. Spray in fall with Liquicop or Serenade soon after leaves have fallen, and again in spring when the petals have fallen from flowers. Prune out infected twigs and rake up infected leaves, destroy any debris.
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