Chinese Apricot - experience?

cyclewest(5A)August 25, 2008

Has anyone had any experience with the Chinese Apricot, also known as the Mormon apricot? It is on the list of recommended varieties by our local extension office in Utah. The main difficulty of apricots in this zone 5 climate is the risk of a late frost that will kill blossoms/developing fruit. I've heard that Chinese is very cold and late frost hardy. It is also self-fruitful-doesn't need a pollinator, and has a sweet pit, you can eat the stone. However, I've also heard that it is clingstone.

Anyone have one or heard of them before?

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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

Never had one, but I think they are frequently grown around here-either chinese or manchurian, so I may be describing the wrong one. They are more cold hardy than the more common types, which is why they are grown since they rarely have winterkill in my area, but this comes with trade-offs. The ones grown generally don't get over 10 to 12 feet high, which is great for being able to pick them. They also tend to have fairly small fruits. Often the fruits are not much larger than a large sweet cherry. The fruit is more tart than the commercial varieties and also tends to have some stringiness or fiber which you notice if you can them. As a result, people grow them to eat a handful or make jam or to say they have an apricot, but then they plant another variety for actually eating on those occasional years when frost doesn't get the blooms.

Utah grows a lot of fruits, apricots included. Check out what is grown at Capitol Reef or the varieties of people around you to find something that should do well for you.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 2:06AM
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I can't answer your climate question, but I do have one of these trees, and it's ok. The fruit isn't really any smaller or more sour than any other apricot. They bloom comparatively late for an apricot, a few days later than the others, but all apricots are among the very first to bloom, well before apples and pears, so they often get zapped.

The pits are edible, IF you can stand to crack them -- EXTREMELY hard to crack.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 7:01AM
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I had one- thought it might do better than Harcot. It may have been marginally better at resisting late cold snaps, but still lost crops where sweet cherries are reliable. So I replaced it with a Sweetheart cherry to extend the cherry season.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 4:29PM
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Mine does fairly well here in Western Montana, if I could keep the squirrels off of it. We find them good to eat out of hand and excellent for jam (the apricots, not the squirrels). Haven't had any disease problems. It has done much better than my Tilton, and I thought the fruit as good. In a good year and on younger wood the fruit is decent sized. This year they ran on the small side and I lost most to the squirrels anyway.

It's pretty safe to call us "Frost free" after May 19, and it's often earlier. Last year my Mormon apricot bloomed from April 11 through 25 and set a decent crop. I seem to have missed recording this year's bloom. But we often have a period where it manages to beat the frost.

Good luck,


    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 8:01AM
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I just planted a Chinese apricot that I got at a local nursery, so I assume it is hardy to my zone. I am just wondering what zone you are in? How low a temp do you usually reach? I just planted it here in August, I hope it makes the winter now, the tree looks nice. How large do the trees get?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 9:42AM
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Hi Troman.

We're basically Zone 5b with some Zone 4 variations. Our lows in a typical year will be around zero F, but we've seen it at -30. The extreme lows rarely last more than a day or two. Will global warming move us upt to Zone 6? Stay tuned!

My Morman was one of the first fruit trees I planted and I didn't find out the rootstock, but it's been easy to keep it to about 12 feet. I basically just summer prune it now and that keeps the size in line.

Good luck with your tree, and I hope the fruit is as tasty where you are as it has been here.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 11:07AM
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I spoke to a neighbor with the tree, two doors down. He said it took a couple of years to produce, probably related to the environment (we share a neighbor that overwaters) and it appeared to have a rough start with leaf drop one of the first years. They bought the tree in a 15 gallon container and put it in the ground. He said he thought the fruit was about average, grocery store size, and it is easy to separate the stone from the flesh. He didn't know that you could eat the seeds. He estimated about 70 fruit last year and just over 100 this year.

I think we'll go ahead and get this one. Now for the container vs. bare root debate... Fall vs. Spring planting...

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 3:56PM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

Sorry to be adding to this thread so late - I just did a search for "apricot" since I have a new (2008) tree. The Chinese Mormon that I got about 20 years ago did well but, my bad, I didn't spray it, so the insects completely killed it in 5 years. (sigh) Best tasting apricot I ever had. Then I couldn't find any nursery that carried it. It took a google search for me to discover the Capitol Reef Nat. Park study of all fruit orchards in Fruita, UT, where it thrives. Then, another search to find a zone 5/6 eastern US nursery carrying it.

I had been advised (since it's zone 6 here) to plant it on the north or shady side of a building, to hold back its bloom time because of possible late frosts here. This worked! And this time, I'll spray it.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 11:40AM
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Can't find a nursery that carries Chinese Mormon? Geez, they're all over here--Lowe's, Home Depot, Costco. If you want mail order, even Rintree has them.

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 3:52PM
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I assume from your tag you are located in Massachusetts, and, if so, you should be growing Tomcot not Chinese Mormon. No need for a pollinator, and there are lots of sources if you do a search. Nearly all home grown apricots are pretty good. Tomcot is excellent and adapts well to the eastern climate.

It would be a rare, but perhaps not impossible occurrence for insects to kill an apricot tree. In fact, I can't think of an insect, or combination of insects, that would actually kill an otherwise healthy apricot tree. Japaneses beetles can defoliate trees when present in large numbers, but usually do not focus on apricots. Protecting the fruit itself is a different matter, and may require several sprays with an effective insecticide like permethrin against the plum curculio and/or oriental fruit moth. Not all areas have these insects in serious numbers, and you may or may not have problems with them.

It is far more likely your apricot tree was affected by bacterial disease or something of that nature. You need to do some closer observation and better diagnosis of your tree before you begin any kind of spray program. There would be little to be gained by spraying with something like the "combination" orchard sprays if they do the tree no good at all.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 5:50PM
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There is another tough apricot with a bit better fruit called Montrose. I have tried for months to find a seed source. it blooms later than most apricots and has pretty good disese resistance. If you find a source for seeds/pits, please do let me know.

Here is a link that might be useful: montrose apricot

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 6:36PM
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I'm in Utah about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City. Maybe I'm just frustrated, but I'm strongly considering giving up on them, and cutting down my two Chinese apricot trees to make room for something else. They're pretty trees but the only thing falling from them is frozen/dead blossoms in the spring, and dead leaves in the fall. :-(

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 4:46PM
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Nate: do it now or do it later- you're gonna do it. Delaying will only add to your frustration. There are are only about a zillion other fruit trees that will perform better.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 7:00PM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

Nate, Chinese should fruit near Salt Lake at least some years, when there's not a late freeze. We frequently got fruit in Ogden. It helps if your trees are not in a low spot or "frost pocket". You may be able to save your crop during marginal freezes (during bloom) by running a sprinkler overnight under the tree, or by setting old-fashioned christmas tree lights in the tree and/or covering the top only with floating row cover (clothes pins work on frosty, still nights).

No reason to have two trees of the same variety. And you could summer-prune one tree to under 8 feet for easier care.

Boizeau, if you're looking for late bloom, Montrose was developed in Colorado and ripens after Chinese, so you could plant both for an extended season. It is also a sweet pit variety. Crack the seeds in a vise. Don't try to grow from seed - it probably won't come true. You might have a local nursery order some trees from LE Cooke, a wholesaler.

In Zone 7, your choices in apricot varieties should be wider. If you're in the West, you could also try Canadian White Blenheim with Chinese or Montrose. It is also a Sweet Pit variety, and needs a pollenizer. Sweetheart from Stark is a sweet pit variety, too.

If you're in the East, try for a locally adapted variety or two.

Sugar Pearls (Gurney or Henry Field) is also noted for late bloom. No matter what it says in the catalog, planting two trees of the same variety will not result in cross-pollination, unless you are growing trees from seed. They also sell Goldcot, for really cold climates.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 7:25AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Sugar Pearl bloomed for the first time this year. Bloomed the same time as Jerseycot, which was the same time as Asian crossed plums. All got froze out (well there are a few blooms on some Asian plums, and possibly one or two on Jerseycot, but I'm not expecting anything.)

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 12:50PM
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Chinese apricot is very popular in Utah. An extra feature, noted by some already in the thread, is that the pits are good to eat, not bitter like some apricots. The pits taste a lot like almonds.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 1:55AM
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I had a old apricot in my yard in Orem Utah. Left over from when the property was part of an apricot orchard. It was planted before 1953 when the land was developed. I believe it was a Chinese. It lost a branch or two to peach tree borers. Yes, borers can kill a tree completely. Alas I didn't prune and it fell over on 4th of July, about 1997. Main root broke. I replaced it with a Stark Sweetheart apricot. It was 5 years before it produced fruit and it is not as good as the old tree. It is to the north of my house, thus blooming later, and I get fruit when my neighbors don't.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 2:40PM
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I've heard from multiple sources that Moorpark does really well in Utah 5A. Regardless of how well they generally do, we are a late frost area. The only way to guarantee apricot production is to put in some extra work. Watch the news to stay ahead of late frosts and cover the trees when they come. If your trees are maintained under 12 feet this might be feasible. If not, good luck. You can make bonnets for your trees (not much different than covering cherries with bird netting). When the danger of frost is past, pull off the bonnet. Using this method you can grow any apricot you want. Local nurseries will likely know which varieties are the best for your area. Chinese/Mormon should produce like a freak with this kind of protection.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 10:36PM
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do you think that Montrose will do well in zone 7a/6b northern New Jersey? If so, I think some are saying it's better than Tomcot; plus, it has a sweet pit - I am not sure if Tomcot also has a good sweet pit.

Steve; NJ

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 2:45AM
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My husband and I have a Chinese Apricot tree that we planted
about 9 months ago (September). While it is beautiful and healthy (it has been fertilized), it has yet to produce any fruit...not even buds. One comment listed says it takes about 2 years to produce fruit. Does anybody know anything about that?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 12:48PM
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