Lecture on growing Apricots in cold climates

Anyone interested in how to grow Apricots in zones 4 & 5 might be interested in attending a lecture on that topic by a Master Gardener named Robert Purvis. He now works for the USDA as an agricultural statistician. He has a 243 tree hobby orchard he maintains at his home in Yakima and is currently concentrating on 7 apricot varieties for zone 4 hardy types. The lecture is being held at the Chicago Botanic Garden, just north of the City of Chicago, on Sunday, February 22, 2004, at 1:30 PM. Admission to the lecture is free, but there is a charge for parking. Members of the Chicago Botanic Garden or the Morton Arboretum can park for free. The event is being sponsored be the Midwest Fruit Explorers (MidFex). MidFex is asking people to contact them in advance, so they can arrange for the proper amount of seating space. They will also answer any specific questions you may have. Send confirmations and queries to: snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net
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take notes. report back. Ingrid

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On Sun, 25 Jan 2004 05:24:50 GMT, Sherwin Dubren

I live in PA at the junctions of zones 5 &6 and I've got an apricot tree that's been growing well here and thrives on benign neglect. It was called a Manchurian apricot and came from one of the nurseries as a bonus a number of years ago.
RWL
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wrote:

The Manchurian apricots are one way to go.
I have Hungarian Rose and Moonglow(I think) here in Philippi, WV. USDA 6( or 5, depending on what side of the hill you are on)
Last year I had the best crop ever, maybe a dozen fruit per tree. Most years the fruit is killed by late frosts.
J. Del Col
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1. heavily mulch around the base to keep the ground cold later into the spring 2. paint the trunk and branches white to reflect light 3. the best. put this tree in the shade of something that doesnt reach it until spring has really sprung. 4. use a flip flop watering on teh tree during late frosts. Ingrid
snipped-for-privacy@mail.ab.edu (J. Del Col) wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@wi.rr.xx.com wrote in message

Or I could concede that apricots aren't suited to this climate and save myself a lot of time and trouble.
They were planted as an experiment. They provide a great place to hang potted orchids in the summer. Any fruit is a bonus.
J. Del Col
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apricots do fine in zone 5. I had to whack my 2 year old apricot cause it began to eat my itty bitty backyard. I have had tree ripened apricots. nothing I have ever bought even comes close. your mentioning it has made me determined to get a couple more apricots and try them in a bucket. thanks. Ingrid
snipped-for-privacy@mail.ab.edu (J. Del Col) wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@wi.rr.xx.com wrote in message

They'll survive and grow well but won't bear much fruit without a lot of help.
The fruit I do get is superb, with a much richer, more complex flavor than any store bought apricot, but I don't expect more than a handful each year.
Here in the WV mountains we frequently have late hard freezes as well as frosts. I'm not interested in adopting Florida citrus protection methods to increase yield.
J. Del Col
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Apricots are an interesting fruit to grow. I inherited some dwarf variety in the yard of the house I'm living in. It blooms VERY early (usually the first week in April) long before our last expected killer frost. For the most part, I regard it as a great ornamental for its early bloom, and especially for forcing branches indoors. There are NEVER active bees during its blooming cycle, but it gets covered in butterflies, which are apparently enough to get some pollination done. Then 2 weeks after the bloom there is usually a terrible hard frost and I expect nothing. However, by early July, there are always about 12-25 fruits hidden under leaves ripening somewhere or other - very tasty - they will stay on the tree for about 3 weeks in a ripe state. Three houses over from me there is some other variety of apricot, in a lower, more protected spot. It blooms much later, is a full-sized tree, and is covered by many hundreds of apricots which ripen in early August. I am in Spokane, zone 5/6
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yup. gotta be sneaky about where to plant apricots. Got one of those soulangiana ... big flowered magnolia which does splendidly in Milwaukee with the lake moderating the temps, but get blasted 10 miles out in the burbs. everybody puts em out on their front lawn like they do in the city and rarely do they get flowers. I stuck mine in under some high trees where it wont get any good strong sun until later in spring and that puppy has bloomed every single year (surrounded by high fence to keep the damn deer away from it!) it is heavily mulched in there too. yeah.. that lower spot is colder most of the time. I had an amazing apricot from Starks with edible kernels... the first year it produced a bumper crop the squirrels got wise to the kernels inside and stripped the tree in 2 days ripping off all the spurs. I took a chain saw to it. No sense training the squirrels to rip all the unripe fruit off to look for edible kernels. the best place to plant apricots is on the north side of trees, buildings, fences that shade it until the sun reaches over them. and mulch them heavily to prevent the ground thawing too early. In Wisconsin some plants just dont do well in the full blast of the winter sun either. they dehydrate more than they would when they are shaded in winter. Ingrid

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what do they taste like?

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On Tue, 27 Jan 2004 00:27:59 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@wi.rr.xx.com wrote:

Apricots ;-)
Actually, pretty good. Nice and sweet . I usually grab some as I pass by when mowing.
The last two seasons haven't been good. In 2002 we had the latest frosts I've ever seen in this part of PA May 21 and 22 as I recall. That did in the cherries, apricots and apples. In 2003 we had an unusually wet spring and again, there was a poor yield on the fruit trees. Ahh. Maybe things will be better this year.
RWL

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I am eager to hear what Robert has to say, but if anyone is interested, they will have to attend, in person. I had a Manchurian Apricot in a large planter on my patio, here in Zone 5. Even after wrapping insulation around the pot, it did not survive the second winter. I did have a great apricot crop from a Moorpark on dwarfing rootstock planted in my backyard. Robert is experimenting with some newer hardy types, which might prove more resilient in our colder climates.
Sherwin D.
Sherwin Dubren wrote:

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HEY... take notes. well that is surprising cause apricots come from really really cold places. my dwarf fruit trees planted in 100 gallon rubbermaids have done really well. http://puregold.aquaria.net/MOH/orchard/orchard.html now, the following summer I had no flowers. this last summer I had flowers and a lot of drop. I really really need to fertilize and have them on a watering schedule. the asian pears did fantastically well. I make a white wine sangria using those pears putting them thru a cuisinart with a blade makes them paper thin. yum. Ingrid

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Reading some of these replies on this thread, I am surprised that people do not make distinctions about different varieties of apricots. Like any other plant, there are types which can be bred to be cold tolerant. To say one has had bad experiences with apricots does not have meaning unless you tell us which variety was planted. I have not heard Robert's talk yet, but I believe he has developed at least 7 new kinds of cold tolerant apricots. What happens to less tolerant apricots is that the cold and wind of the winter kills the buds. Of course, if the blossoms come out and then there is a frost, it will probably kill any kind of blossom.
Sherwin D.
Sherwin Dubren wrote:

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http://online.sfsu.edu/~patters/culinary/pages/croporigins.html http://www.sproutfarms.com/apricot.htm I believe apricots came from extremely cold zones. like 1-2 and have been bred to be heat tolerant. they are bred to take low chill requirements or they wont flower in warmer climates. my understanding was "early springs" with late frosts were the major problem. that is why delaying bud breaking was so important. Ingrid

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Hi dr-solo, Apricots originally came from northern China, then brought to Persia and subsequently to the Mediterranean Area. One of the most cold tolerant apricots I know of, is the Manchurian variety, which to my understanding is only tolerant down to zone 2. They will also grow in zones up to 9. The drawback with the Manchurian variety, is that the fruit is smaller than most other varieties. Most of the current world's production of apricots takes place in a band from about 25 to 45 degrees north latitude (not much of zone 1 in these areas). Like many of the other fruits we enjoy today, apricots have evolved over the years to tolerate warmer climates, like California and Turkey. You are certainly right about late frosts killing the early apricot flowers, but I think there are more factors involved, like enough cold winter temperatures to set buds for the coming year. I will relay to this forum any more facts I can glean from the upcoming lecture on Apricots.
Sherwin D.
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