Many people desire their own Apricot tree and until the recent run of cold winters, the first English apricots were beginning to make tentative moves onto the commercial market. Unfortunately Apricot trees are the least hardy of all the hardy stone fruits that can be successfully grown in this country - and they demand the warmest aspect of all. That said, good results have been achieved in many localities and if you can afford them a protected warm and sunny spot then the results achieved can be very well worthwhile. Apricots do not get troubled with leaf-curl and generally have few diseases which is one advantage.
Apricots are not compatible on Pixy and do tend to be quite rangy trees. They can be contained quite well on a south or west wall where an 8' width should be adequate.
Apricots are all self fertile so that is no problem. The flowers are very early, often opening in March so be prepared to provide protection at this crucial time to achieve a decent crop.
General cultivation notes
The basic requirements are the same as for the peach and nectarine except that light sandy soils are not suitable and need to be improved. In all areas dig in well rotted manure or compost before planting, water well and then lightly mulch with leaf mould or compost.
PRUNING. The young dwarf bush should be pruned as for the bush plum and the mature tree should be pruned the same as for the acid cherry. Only light pruning should be done as the best fruits are formed on two or three year old wood. Excessive pruning will result in a poor crop.
PRUNING THE FAN TRAINED TREE. The fan trained apricot should be pruned in the early years as you would a fan trained peach. The mature fan trained apricot is pruned as you would a fan trained plum.
THINNING. Start thinning when the fruits are the size of cherries, first removing any miss-shaped fruits. Later on thin pairs and clusters, leave three to four inches between each fruit.
FEEDING. In February apply Growmore at 2oz per square yard and 1oz Nitro Chalk per square yard. Mulch each year to a depth of 1 inch. If your soil has a tendency to be short of lime this will be needed about every four years on average.
POLLINATION, FROST PROTECTION & WATERING. As for peaches
HARVESTING. The fruits are ripe about one week after they have stopped swelling and have reached their full colour. The fruit should come away easily in the hand.
Good Apricot varieties
Moorpark has for many years been the most favoured variety and remains a good choice and tends to be quite reliable. The nwer Goldcott also has some claims to greater hardiness and bears fruits of good quality. Tomcot is a newcomer with extra-large and handsome fruits, which is causing quite a stir. Other varieties worth growing include Alfred and Flavourcot.