Sugar Pearl Apricot Tree

troman1973(4)July 30, 2007

For the last two years I have seen Gurney's advertise a Sugar Pearl Apricot. The way it looks it is not really a apricot or a peach, but according to them is a awesome fruit. I have searched the internet to find info out on these trees, but really have come up with no luck. Are they a new variety? I was going to buy one of these trees the last two years and both times when it is planting time here they had already been long sold out, so they must be a popular tree. They say they are self fruitful so I should only need one. They are more expensive than the other trees on the site. I am just wondering if they are worth the effort. Are they cold hardy? Gurney's said cold hard to zone 4. Any information on these or pictures of your tree would be awesome. Thanks

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Mailorder catalogs will say LOTS of things to get you to buy their stuff. Personally, I would find a local nursery in your county and start dialoguing with them as to what sorts of apricots do best. Usually they have the appropriate experience. And by local nursery I do not mean a W*lmart chain, nor H*me Dep*t, or L*wes, etc. Sure, they may occassionally have an expert on staff, but not usually. It is the family-owned outfits that have been around for years or decades with the real knowledge, usually. Or an experienced neighbor!

Do people commonly grow apricots in your area?

Can you call a county or state agriculture agent and ask him/her what sort of apricot survives well?

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2007 at 9:25AM
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The only problem with that is that there are new varieties of fruit trees being developed in the last ten to twenty years at small college research facilities, and even by private individuals, groups, doing their own hybridizations, such as Zaigers. Some may be a lot better than what the local nurseries have sold for the last twenty years. Or worse.
Personally, I would use the resources of the Internet that we have now to find out more information. Posting here on Gardenweb is a good start.
A Google search on "Sugar Pearl" apricot University brought up an Annual Report from 01/09/2006 by the NERA, an organization which evaluates new fruit cultivars. Dr. Joe Goffreda from Rutgers led a discussion of apricot breeding and cultivars, including that New Jersey has released Sugar Pearl; it is available through Gardens Alive. Another Google search turned up Dr. GoffredaÂs email and phone number. You might want to contact him for more information.
Why grow the same fruit as what you find in the supermarket? With a little homework, you might come up with something really wonderful.

Here is a link that might be useful: NERA Annual Report

    Bookmark   August 3, 2007 at 11:56AM
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Your point is well taken. I will balance it by relating this:

Several years ago Mr. Jules Janick, in Indiana, sent me some pear scions that were suppose to blow everything else away. Even the name sounded awesum. So I gladly grafted them to all sorts of rootstock. So far, the foliage has been very scabby, growth pretty whimpy, and zero fruit. And there are plenty of kinds of pear pollen floating about, so no worries there. It is just not a happy camper on the west coast. Maybe in Indiana it does wonderful!

Moral: what works in NJ may or may not work in North Dakota. That is why I suggested checking with other local fruit growers and family run nurseries. Even an average apricot is tons better than a super-dooper tree that never gives you anything.

In the end, we all vote with our pocketbooks.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2007 at 3:14PM
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Thanks for both of your help!!

I agree with both you. The only problem I have is with local nursery's they only have experience with extreme cold hardy fruit trees, they dont have any expertise in anything else I have found. As I have posted before I have two peach trees from Gurneys that are doing wonderful, and everyone told me here that I would never be able to grow. I think the different types of cold hardy trees is getting better and locals dont have that knowledge yet. Maybe someone will come to be for that!! I do agree that for native growing I would definitely use my local nursery. But if I am into trying new things I have to do my own research.

I just saw those Sugar Pearls and they didnt look like a peach or apricot, and what ever advertising they did it must have been good as they are always sold out. We can grow some types of apricots in ND, but I was just wondering how cold hardy this variety was.

Thanks for both of your help.

I am still looking for anyone that has grown a Sugar Pearl

    Bookmark   August 3, 2007 at 4:42PM
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It appears you are on the bleeding edge of fruit research in North Dakota. I say go for it. Maybe give it winter protection the first winter, but none after that?

Some of these mailorder nurseries offer 1 year guarantees and so forth, so that may entice you to try it as well.

Don't people in your state water the tree real well before the ground freezes? Seems like I have heard of them doing that to keep the branches from drying out and dying.

Hope it works for you! Sounds like other North Dakotans need to come ask you what will grow!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2007 at 11:56PM
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Thanks Plumfan

I know I am not on any bleeding edge of anything, but I do like trying different stuff.

When I was a kid we watered evergreen trees well before winter, but nothing else. That might be a good idea though to try. I know I was told that I should quit watering sometime in August for my peach trees to make them start hardening off. Maybe I could give them one last good shot before winter.

I do like the one year gurantee. I had a tree die and Gurneys replaced it no questions asked. A new tree was in the mail immediately.


    Bookmark   August 4, 2007 at 9:57AM
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shishijoy(z5 KS)

I just saw where Henry Field's won a Green Thumb Award for Sugar Pearls apricot. They are special for their flavor, and because they flower late, so the crop isn't so frost sensitive. I'm thinking about getting one. Here's what the Mailorder Gardening website had about it: "Sugar Pearls Apricot
Henry FieldÂs Seed & Nursery Co.
Growing apricots has always been a challenge for many homeowners because the trees tend to bloom so early that late frosts can kill an entire yearÂs crop. Tests at Rutgers University confirm that Sugar Pearls blooms much later than other apricot varieties, ensuring larger and more reliable harvests for Northern gardeners. Best of all, Sugar Pearls Apricots are sweet and full-bodied with a delicious golden-honey flavor and smooth texture. Sugar Pearls Apricot is self-pollinating, so you only need one tree to enjoy a bounty of fruit in USDA zones 4-7."

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 8:51PM
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I am thinking of getting one too. The thing is they must be popular because the last two years I have tried they were sold out!!

I had read the same thing with Gurney's. Since they have been out for two years, I was hoping that someone here would have planted one. I hope they are as hardy as they say.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 10:02PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

This is a promising apricot newly released from the Rutgers breeding program. See the link below for a good article on apricot varieties. Another new apricot from that program, Jerseycot, also sounds very good but it may not be as hardy.


Here is a link that might be useful: Purvis article

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 11:45AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Thanks Scott for that article. I just lately been researching Apricots. Its one fruit that is always expensive to buy in the store, and i'm sure homegrown would taste way better. Looks like i have a lot of options here, i just have to worry about spring frosts.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 12:08PM
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Thanks for the link Scott

It had alot of info!!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 12:54PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Frank, to add to that article let me give you my take on the varieties I have that have fruited in order of how I am liking them.

Puget Gold - blossoms early but they seem to have very high cold tolerance. Fruit is on the small side but is on the very big side in the flavor department - YUM!

Tomcot - reliable blossoms and large, tasty fruit. This is a recommended tree.

Harglow - Seems OK, some blossoms surviving and OK taste. Tomcot is better in every category for me.

I also have many varieties of white apricot I am testing but they are not proving very reliable so far.


    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 1:21PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)


Would that be Hunza? Those sweet pit apricots sound too cool. I never knew such a thing existed. I just read about the Hunza Valley and now i want to live there! Sounds beautiful and they seem to use the apricot for all things.

I see Raintree sells a few different types? Any other nurserys i should be aware of? Gurneys/Jungs/ don't sell a whole lot for variety. I'll throw Tomcot on my list. I plan on doing 3 different types. I have a spot i reserved for cherries, but i might skip on them and use it for Apricots. Its perfect because in the winter its totally shaded until early spring (north side of house with a big overhang--ranch style) and then gets good sun all summer. I've been marking it the past month too see where the sun is at noon/etc. I think the key is to delay bud break and keep them sleeping through the first or second heat waves we seem to get in April (80F+ this year and my peach was still asleep!) which afterwards saw the temp drop back down to an overnight low of 19F not too many days later...Wisconsin for you.

How do they compare to store bought, California grown apricots? better/way better/out of this world?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 2:13PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Frank, I have three kinds of Hunza I am growing but they have a ways to go until they fruit. They are supposedly unique in terms of their sweetness, but I have yet to eat one myself. They are not white apricots. The white apricots are mostly persian or central asian I think.

There is no great apricot nursery that I know of in terms of selection. Bay Laurel and Cummins have some good selection along with the ones you mention.

Tree-ripened apricots are much, much better than the store-bought ones which are picked far too early. I have had some very good apricots from Whole Foods grocery in California; those top-quality fruits don't seem to get east.


    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 3:57PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

OK. I think anything will be better then what i pay $2/pound for at the store.

What about ripening times? Do you grow varieties that ripen at different times? Are they like a peach, that they take some time off to harden there seed (?) and then start growing like crazy after like their time off?

How old are your Hunza type apricots? What was your quickest bearing tree?

Sorry for the questions, i just plan on ordering early so i can get what i want or try.

Thanks a bunch.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 4:06PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Frank, Tomcot is extremely early, Puget Gold is late and Harglow is very late to ripen. You can look up data on the others somewhere I expect.

I'm not sure what you are asking -- harden there seed? Ah I think I get it -- you mean how the fruit grows on the tree? Apricot fruits tend to reach full size sooner and then take longer to ripen at that size compared to peaches. I use the top-finger-press trick to check for ripeness.

My Hunzas are in their third year. I didn't have a good spot to plant them so they were too shaded at first; they are finally getting going this year.

In terms of quickness to bearing its hard to say because I can't say if the reason for no fruit was the tree was too immature or the cold did in the blossoms. My white apricot trees have flowered for the past several years but no fruit so far. Are they slow to bear, are are they cold-intolerant? Hard to say.

By the way in case you did not read it elsewhere, apricots are not reliable every year in our kind of climate. That is why the absolute latest-blooming varieties are the best. These new ones from NJ (Sugar Pearl and Jerseycot) are really worth checking out for that reason, I will probably try them soon. The Hunzas are also supposed to have a later bloom.


    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 5:58PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I think i'll throw a sugar pearl in since its carried by a couple of the big nurseries.

So Tomcot/Sugar pearl/and probably a Hunza type just for the heck of it.

I know what you mean about year to year problems. My first experience with apricots came when my mother bought a home with a LARGE (it had a very thick trunk) apricot in the yard. The tree was gorgeous in the spring, but some years it had a ton of fruit and other years it had little or none. It came down with a bad case of canker so i chopped it.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 6:49PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Jerseycot is impossible to find. I've looked everywhere. Probably need to get wood from someone and then graft? I'm reading many good things about Puget Gold and its easy enough to find.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2007 at 11:53AM
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I thought I would bring this topic back again. I am still wondering if anyone has planted or tasted a Sugar Pearl Apricot.

Frank I seen you were gonna order one. I put a order in for one in December and Henry's and Gurneys and in April I got a slip saying they were sold out. Seems it doesnt matter when you order if you live to far north you are on the last to ship and if they run out by the time they get to your shipping date you are screwed.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 9:18AM
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Hi, I too would love to hear more info from someone with experience growing sugar pearls. I ordered two trees a few months back, this way I'll hopefully get at least one sent to me next spring.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 10:09PM
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I just ordered one, to be pollinated by a manchurian apricot strain from Oikos Tree Crops. I understand Jerseycot has cropped in Minneapolis/St.Paul in the past, and that Sugar Pearl is equally hardy. I'll be sure to check in after a couple of years. I guess I won't know for sure how it does for a couple of years.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 11:30PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Has anyone tried fruit from one of these yet or have one fruiting currently? I almost ordered one last winter, but then didn't (i regret that!).

    Bookmark   May 21, 2009 at 9:21AM
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bhawkins(8A Dallas)

Does anyone have an experience yet with sugar pearl apricot?

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 8:35PM
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Two years later -- unfortunately, I still don't have much to report. The tree is hardy, but also very attractive to rabbits, who have girdled it at the snow line twice now. It regrows from the stump (above the graft) but I haven't gotten year-old wood yet to observe blossom or fruit. Next year, hopefully.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 6:02PM
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brotherjake(5A UT)

I haven't tried the Sugar Pearl, but I have talked to people who have tried the Canadian White Blenheim. They say it is wonderful and has a sweet pit. It is a bit slower to bear (4-5 years). Dave Wilson nursery also lists it as a taste test winner. If you can handle waiting a little, this is a late-blooming/cold hardy variety that is rated with Blenheim for taste.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 7:15PM
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I have a Sugar Pearl. No fruit yet. Have grown it two seasons so far. Northwoodswis

    Bookmark   January 8, 2012 at 12:06AM
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