Apricots (Prunus armeniaca) are drupes or stone fruit prized for their taste and medicinal properties. Cultivated in Armenia and China thousands of years ago, they were favored by the ruling classes and later immortalized in the Turkish adage “the only thing better than this is an apricot in Damascus.”

By the 1700s apricots had spread to Europe and the New World via the Spaniards. Unfortunately, the fruit did not thrive in the colonies, and it wasn’t until the trees were planted in California that production and demand grew substantially.

The Golden State is responsible for the vast majority of the U.S. commercial production, followed by Washington, then Utah. Other states (including Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio, Oregon, and Pennsylvania) grow lesser quantities for local harvest and consumption.

References: Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, California Apricot Council, USDA.

SEASONAL AVAILABILITY

Seasonal Availability Chart

TYPES, VARIETIES & CUTS

Fruit of Prunus armeniaca and its related species range in taste from tart to sweet. There are many popular North American varieties including Blenheim, Castlebrite, Earli Autumn, Flavor Giant, Harcot, Improved Flaming Gold, Katy, Modesto, Moongold, Patterson, Perfection, Superb, Titan, Tracy, Veecot, Vivagold, Westley, and Wilson Delicious.

Top varieties for processing include Blenheim, Bonnie, Patterson, Tilton, and Westley.

Plumcots, pluots, and apriums are crosses between apricots and plums, with many cultivars for growers and consumers to enjoy.

More apricots are bound for processing than sent to the fresh market.

References: University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources, University of Illinois Extension, University of Minnesota Extension, USDA.

PESTS & DISEASE

Clearing away debris—from dead or diseased wood to leaves and dried fruit—will help prevent and control pests. Spraying trees at the first sign of growth in the spring with horticultural oil will aid in removing insects and any overwinter eggs.

Excess moisture from rain or dew can lead to favorable conditions for a host of viruses and diseases, just as too much heat (sun) can lead to pit burn or premature softening.

Major pests include aphids, citrus cutworms, earwigs, leafrollers, mites, peach tree borers, oriental fruit moths, and plum curculio. Among the major diseases affecting apricots are bacterial canker, brown rot, coryneum blight, jacket rot, Phytophthora root or crown rot, and powdery mildew which can be treated by various fungicide sprays.

References: University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources, University of Illinois Extension, University of Minnesota Extension, USDA.

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