Sweet-Kernel Apricots for zone 5?

theloud(7b)January 16, 2012

Here in snowy central NY state, I'm thinking about sweet-pit apricots. What varieties are available, and how do they do in this climate? I'm having trouble finding a definitive list of apricots that have sweet kernels.

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alan haigh

I would hesitate to go there. Squirrels love those sweet kernels.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 6:08PM
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Squirrels do a number on my regular appricots, each tree rat destroying 8-10 apricots each morning and evening. one bite and on to the next cot.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 7:40PM
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The toxins in most fruit seeds do nothing to discourage squirrels. They relish every apple and quince seed in my compost pile. I'm sure they wouldn't mind toxic apricot kernels either.

Assuming I'll be battling squirrels whatever I plant, what are some good sweet-pit apricot varieties for around here?

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 8:06PM
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alan haigh

Squirrels will eat any peach but are more persistent to getting low acid varieties which are significantly harder to protect IME. I only mention the extra attractiveness of sweet pits because I'd read somewhere that it was a problem- no experience. I'm sorry that I can't recall varieties that have sweet pits. Seems like at least one of the harrow series does but I'm not sure. I assume you made a search.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 5:58AM
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alan haigh

This was probably an answer to your own question on NAFEX Lists, but just in case, here it is.

I find that kernels of the apricot "Harcot" are delicious, very almond-like.
I limit
myself to five at a time, though, since apricot kernels have cyanide.

Wikipedia says that despite being used/eaten in central Asia and around the

"In 1993, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets tested
cyanide content of two 220 gram (8oz) packages of apricot kernels that were
imported from Pakistan which were being sold in health-food stores as a
The results showed that each package, if consumed entirely, contained at
double the minimum lethal dosage of cyanide for an adult human. The apricot
were recalled and removed from stores.[3] In spite of this, there were no
deaths and only one serious toxicity from apricot kernels reported from 1979
1998.[4] On average, an apricot kernel contains about 0.5 mg of cyanide."

~David Consolvo
Hungrytown, Virginia

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 6:46AM
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When some unscrupulous vendors are selling ordinary, toxic apricot kernels as if they were the edible kind, that makes me even more motivated to grow my own, of a variety known to have safe kernels.

Nursery catalog descriptions often don't mention whether the kernels are edible or not, but by googling around for breeders' descriptions and such, I've seen these mentioned as having sweet kernels: 'Harcot,' 'Chinese,' 'Hunza,' 'Robada,' 'Montrose,' 'Canadian White Blenheim'... There should be a list online somewhere, but I'm not finding it.

Anyway, my local squirrels must have been so busy with my strawberries, they completely ignored my peaches and grapes, so I figure apricots might stand a chance.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 5:14PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Squirrels didn't bother my apricots, but they destroyed a lot of peaches.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 5:30PM
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alan haigh

I planted some seedling Hunza or Chinese apricots years ago on a site that at the time I considered a Z5. The trees grew well at first but the fruit was not sprayed and never held to ripeness. The trees died one by one from cambium kill (fluctuating temps). I had bought the trees from Bear Creek Nursery because I was intrigued with the idea of edible pits. The client was game for anything with nice flowers.

I used some of his property for a fruit tree nursery and I grew some Harrow series apricots there that had much higher survivability.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 6:42PM
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I killed (I guess) my Chinese aka Mormon apricot by drowning, but maybe it was temp fluctuations. Those were good. Squirrels really loved them, particularly the pits. I never tried to eat the pits- didn't know it was an option when I grew the tree.

One day there was a big squirrel in the top of the tree and I was so mad I went out and grabbed it by the trunk- shook it so hard it scared the rat and he jumped from the top of the tree to the alley below- a good fifteen feet, I'd guess. He ran off, apparently unharmed. Maybe that's what killed the tree!

Damn squirrels.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 9:07PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I have Hunza on Citation and it has done fine. The fruit isn't that great and while it has a million flowers, it sets very little fruit (its still a younger tree). It also grows like a sunflower (straight up). I've thought about chainsawing it, but I think I'll graft it over to something else.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 9:17PM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

In the East, you need to look at disease resistance first. Check out the characteristics of the New Jersey-bred varieties. I'm not sure that Harcot is reliably sweet pit. Reports vary. Mine does not seem to be a sweet pit. I understand that white apricots are more likely to be sweet pit than orange ones, so you might look in that direction.

Where adapted, Stark's Sweetheart is highly rated. Chinese and Montrose are good sweet pit choices for the dry-summer West, but probably not for your climate.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 7:10AM
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Thanks for the Harcot report. Except for the uncertainty of its pits, it seems like a good one, with resistance to 3 diseases according to NY recommendations from 1983, which are the latest I can find. I suspect more varieties have been bred since then. Vivagold and Moorpark are also listed as sweet pitted, but not disease resistant.

I'm also looking for late bloomers of course, and I don't see any mention of Sweetheart blooming late, or resisting diseases, but then again I might not be looking in the right places.

I found a bit about the NJ releases, but what I found about them so far didn't mention if the pits were edible or not. I guess I'll keep looking.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 6:25PM
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alan haigh

But the NJ releases show promise of not dying at the drop of a hat as do the harrow releases and most apricots in Z5. These are very fragile trees from Z6 colder.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 7:11PM
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A thought about Harcot: at least some sources say that it's self-fertile. Does the pollen parent affect the seed's edibility? I'm wondering if it's like planting sweet corn too close to field corn, so the field corn's pollen makes the sweet corn starchy instead of sugary. Do sweet-pit apricots need to be far from the normal poisonous-pit kind?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 9:56PM
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alan haigh

Coming from the west coast I assumed that all apricots were self fertile as did most commercial suppliers such as ACN back when I first planted fruit trees here nearly 25 years ago.

What I've found is that on sites with two varieties the trees crop much more consistently so I assume self fruitfulness is dependent on warm spring temps as is often the case with pears. A few years after I observed this Adams began recommending cross pollination.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 6:07AM
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Is the kernel of 'Hargrand' sweet; or only 'Harcot' features a sweet kernel of the 'Har-' series.


    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 1:30AM
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Please report back on which ones are sweet!

In Iran I think all apricots I've had are sweet and delicious kernels. Perhaps you can find some Iranian varieties. I think Scott has found some Iranian varieties like Shekar Pareh and Zard perhaps from Afghanistan??? I just spoke with my grandmother actually she says I am mistaken--we have bitter kernels in Iran as well but they are less common and cheap fruit. Shes says the bitter kernel ones generally have darker yellow skin, smaller fruit, and poorer overall fruit quality.

I wonder if anyone has ever tried Tomcot kernels!!! I am nursing my small Tomcot tree back to health probably won't produce for a few years.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 11:55AM
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