Tree Fruits – Apricots

Apricots are not recommended for “General Planting”  because of their extreme sensitivity to spring frosts and bacterial spot but recently developed cultivars provide opportunities to plant commercially viable orchards.

Growth Climate Zones

Apricots are not recommended for production in colder zones (beyond 7a) where there is a risk of spring frost frequent during bloom.

Pollination Requirements

Apricots are normally considered self-fruitful, not requiring inter-planting with other cultivars. However, some selections, notably Vivagold is self-sterile and should not be planted in solid blocks.

Cultivars

Average harvest dates shown in Table 2, Average First Harvest Date for Apricot Cultivars and Selections, are used here to rank selections. The later the date it is assumed that flowering is later reducing the frost risk. Actual harvest dates will differ due to proximity to large bodies of water, local weather conditions, soil type and crop size.

Below are cultivars from Table 1, Recommended Apricot Cultivars in Ontario. For pictures of fruit see the Apricot Photo Gallery. Entry colour code: first choice due to late maturity, fruit characteristics and/or disease tolerance; second choice after first choice cultivars; and not recommended. Cultivars are:

  • Goldcot. An apricot that has had a good production record at Vineland. The colour and quality are fair. Over the years it has proven to be a dependable, hardy standard cultivar but not of the best quality.
  • Goldrich. The fruit are large, bright, attractive orange, hang well at maturity and do not split after heavy rains. Flesh quality is fair.
  • Harcot. An early apricot with an attractive red blush. It has good fruit quality for roadsides markets and direct fruit sales, but unsuitable for shipping or processing. Harcot has a sweet kernel, but this characteristic has been inconsistent at Vineland.
  • Harglow. This cultivar blooms slightly later than most commercial apricots. The fruit are medium in size and bright solid orange in colour. The fruit ripens a few days before Veecot and is firm and flavourful. This cultivar is best suited for the fresh market.
  • Hargrand. This cultivar ripens in Veecot season. The fruit are a dull orange but the size is excellent when the crop has been thinned. The flesh is juicy and tasty. Hargrand is suitable for the fresh market.
  • Harlayne. Ripens late in August about a week after Veecot and has proven to be very hardy at Harrow. The fruit have a red blush and are bright and attractive in the basket. This cultivar requires careful thinning to attain size. It is best suited to the fresh market but is also suitable for home processing.
  • Haroblush™ (formerly HW 441). An early apricot that ripens 4 days after Harcot. The fruit is attractive, red blush over half the fruit, oblong, medium size, very good flesh quality and freestone. The fruit has firm flesh and is moderately resistant to bacterial spot and skin cracking. The tree is hardier than Veecot, consistently productive, vigorous and canker tolerant.
  • Harogem. This cultivar ripens mid-season, a few days after Veecot, but is not as winter-hardy. The fruit have a bright glossy finish with a dark red shoulder. An attractive cultivar for the fresh market, it colours early and must be picked carefully for proper maturity. Bacterial spot has been a problem in some seasons but overall a good cultivar.
  • Harojoy™ (formerly HW 446). An early apricot that ripens 5 days after Harcot. The fruit is very attractive with a good red blush, medium to large sized, slightly flattened, very firm flesh, good eating quality and freestone. The fruit is also very tolerant to bacterial spot, brown rot and skin cracking. The tree has moderate production, is canker tolerant and is hardier than Veecot.
  • Harostar™ (formerly HW 436). Ripens 10 days after Harcot. Exceptionally bright and attractive, uniform ripening fruit of good size, with good red blush on an orange background. The flesh is firm, freestone with medium quality. The fruit is also resistant to bacterial spot, brown rot and skin cracking. The tree is upright, productive and healthy.
  • Harval. A late-maturing cultivator that ripens a full week after Veecot but in the same season as Harlayne. It has large, attractive fruit that are bright orange with a red blush. Trees have performed well at Harrow and Vineland.
  • Veecot. Still the benchmark cultivar for the mid-season. It has a highly attractive, smooth finish and a deep, dark orange ground colour. It hangs well at maturity, but because of its intense colour, must be picked carefully for optimum maturity. Bacterial spot can be a problem some years, but tree health is excellent. Recommended for the fresh market and home canning.
  • Velvaglo. This cultivar has larger than average fruit with an attractive bright orange colour. Stem-end ground colour tends to stay green even when commercially mature. Velvaglo is earlier than Veecot by 1 week. Bacterial spot can be serious some seasons. Flesh quality, juiciness and flavour make Velvaglo very suitable for the local fresh market.
  • Vivagold. This cultivar ripens in the late season, about 6 days after Veecot. The fruit have an excellent intense orange ground colour and a velvety finish. Because it colours early, fruit must be picked carefully for optimum maturity. Processing quality is excellent.

Rootstock

Seedlings of locally grown apricot cultivars such as Alfred, Goldcot, Manchurian and Veecot are the most reliable seedling rootstocks for apricot. American plum (Prunus americana), Myrobalan  plum (Prunus cerasifera), and peach (Prunus persica) seedlings are not recommended.

Recommended varieties are:

  • Alfred
  • Haggith
  • M604
  • Manchurian

References

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