Apricot Best Practices

Agro-ecological conditions
Climate
The optimum is a moderate climate – Mediterranean, in which there is less danger of frost and diseases are less violent. Apricots require 400 - 1000 cold units, and may suffer from heat stroke at the beginning of spring. Poor blossoming and low yields is the result of temperatures increase in early spring leading to early blossoming. Resistance to low temperatures is similar to that of peaches. Heavy rains and high humidity during blossoming or close to harvest time, cause damages. Blossoms have low resistance to frost and - 1 °C is sufficiently cold to do damage. Lately, new varieties have been developed that can withstand temperatures of - 20 °C. Certain varieties are sensitive to high temperatures that cause cracking in the fruit.

Soil
Apricots prefer deep, rich soil.
Conditions are optimal in drained soil.
The apricot has mediocre resistance to a high pH and to salinity and is sensitive to over-saturated soil.

Varieties
There are three main variety groups: European, Asian and hybrids. Over hundreds of years, until only 200 years ago, apricot saplings were grown from seed without any selection or betterment. As a result, there are local varieties in many countries, particularly in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was only in the 20th Century that apricots were separated into three varieties in Europe and the USA.
Main varieties in the USA: Royal, Tilton, Perfection, Moor park; in California the most popular variety is Castlebrite and in New-Jersey: NJA38, NJA43 and NJA82

Certain varieties were developed for extracting the kernel, similar to almonds, mainly in China. Popular varieties developed in Turkey were mainly in the Malatya region, for the dried apricot industry. This region produces 65% - 80% of all dried apricots globally. There are varieties with a sweet kernel and others with a bitter kernel. The bitter kernel varieties derive from a single variety: Zerdali. The source of the sweet kernel is from central Asia and the Middle East.

Nursery
Like other deciduous varieties, it is common to plant saplings towards the end of the dormant season.
Saplings are planted with roots exposed.

Tree spacing
Trees are planted 6 x 5 m; about 330 trees per hectare.

Irrigation
Excess water causes trees to die therefore water should be applied according to the trees' needs. In heavy soil trees should be irrigated once every 2 - 3 days and once a day in light soils.

Irrigation coefficients (Kc) based on class A pan evaporation rate, according to the northern hemisphere.

Kc

 Apr

May

 Jun

 Jul

Aug 

 Sep

Irrigation coefficient

0.25

0.90

0.90

0.40

0.30

0.20

There are two critical stages for water stress in the soil in apricot orchards: During blossoming, from fruit-set to ripening, and during fruit growth, after harvesting.

Deficit irrigation - Where the water supply is limited minimum waste of water is essential so trees should be irrigated only to the point where they are sensitive to stress. However, if this quantity of water is insufficient for the tree’s needs - it is necessary to find the right stage, where water reduction will do the least harm. Deficit irrigation can influence not only the current yield, but also the following season’s yield. Apricot trees are resistant to stress during the central period of fruit growth. Trees must receive full irrigation during the first stage at the start of the season when they are sensitive to stress. At this stage, in early spring, the tree buds, blossoms and fruit sets are grown quickly. Because of climate conditions water consumption is not great, but water should not be conserved. An additional critical stage is prior to harvesting, when fruit grows quickly necessitating full irrigation. After harvesting, it is necessary again to apply full irrigation. Deficit irrigation can be applied during the relatively long period of fruit and vegetative growth.

Drip irrigation system
Due to the relatively large spacing between rows of trees, two drip laterals per tree row are recommended. Dripper spacing should be 0.5m and the discharge rate, according to the soil type should be 1.6 - 2.3 l/h.
Uniram As is our universal solution for on surface and SDI applications. Uniram CNL & HCNL are needed if pulse Nutrigation is selected.

Fertilization application
During soil preparation - P2O5: 200 - 300 kg/ha and K2O: 400 - 600 kg/ha should be applied depending on soil test results.

Fertilizer requirements for young and fruit bearing trees:

 

N Kg/ha

P2O5 Kg/ha

K2O Kg/ha

First year

80 - 120

70

100

Second year

120 - 150

70

150

Third year

150 - 180

80

200

Mature orchard
(kg/year)

150 - 180

90

300

 

Main diseases
Alphabetically: Anthracose (glomeralla singulota), bacterial spot (xanthomonas campestris pr.), blossom blast (pseudomonas syringae), brown rot (monilinia sp.), eutypa canker (eutypa lata), perennial canker (leucostoma cincta), plum pox virus (sharka), shot hole (wilsonomyces carpophila)

Main pests
Alphabetically: Aphids, leaf roller (tortricid moth), lecanium scale (parthenolecanium corni), peach tree borer (synathedon exitiosal), peach twig borer (ansaria lineatella), shothole borer (scolitus rugulosus), spider mite

Frost protection
Due to early blossoming a frost protection system is essential in regions prone to frost. The recommended system is sprinkler irrigation above the canopy. Super Net micro-sprinklers in every tree enable wetting the tree’s foliage without wetting the ground between the rows. It is possible to use the frost protection system as irrigation system (micro-Sprinklers under canopy).

Tree treatments
Standard pruning is to create an open center, also known as the Winter System. Vase-shape pruning is also acceptable. Growth is strong, therefore it is possible to prune deeply without damaging the large fruits. Green pruning is done during the summer, when pruning “shoot growth” that grow in the tree’s center. It is not common practice to thin out blossoms, except in the event of excess blossoming. In regions suffering from diseases such as silver leaf or gummosis, trees are pruned after harvesting, or lightly pruned in the winter. Weeds along the rows should be treated with herbicides, while between the rows they should be mowed; soil cultivation is not an accepted policy.

Growing season
The flower buds open in February. Fruit usually starts to ripen in May, with harvesting from mid-June to mid-July. The growing period from blossoming to harvest is 70 - 120 days. If the summer is hot, fruit ripens earlier. The harvest period is very short, about two weeks, and shelf life is extremely short. It is not accepted practice to store apricots.

Harvest
Harvesting is done manually and carefully. The fruit’s skin is sensitive to bruising. The harvest season is short, and therefore fruit is picked when its color changes. Selective picking is preferable.

Yields
The first commercial harvest is after three years.
The orchard will reach full yields in years 4 - 6.
During the third year the yield will be 5 t/ha while in the sixth year it will be 18 t/ha and in mature orchards 20 - 30 t/ha.
Apricots continue to yield fruit for 25 - 40 years depending on diseases.