apricots not setting fruit

cousinfloydNovember 7, 2013

I planted a Harglow apricot 5 years ago where I am in North Carolina and my mother-in-law in lower Michigan planted an apricot 8-10 years ago, and neither of them has set fruit yet even though they bloomed fairly early on. What do you all think could be going on? Do apricots need cross-pollination? Can they do without but do better with? Are they just super sensitive to late frosts (even the less severe years where other fruit trees don't seem bothered)?

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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

The usual reason is they bloom earlier than peaches or plums and so the frost is much more likely to get them. I'm not sure that is your problem but that would be my guess.


    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 8:23AM
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aphahn(6a CO)

The need for cross pollenization depends on the variety. Harglow is supposed to be self fertile, others like sugar perals need cross polinization.
I think late frosts like Scott said are a likely cause, though Harglow is a late bloomer.
Apricots can only take about 28f once near bloom. The link below is my favorite reference for fruit bud hardiness.


Here is a link that might be useful: Bud hardiness

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 10:51AM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

If you or your neighbors don't have other apricots nearby that bloom at the same time, I would think pollination is the problem. Frost frequently takes the apricot flowers, but they also seem to open their flowers over a relatively extended period so even with a frost, if the tree blooms it will have some later flowers that can produce at least a few apricots.

I have an old tree that is probably a rootstock, but is reliably covered in blooms every year. It never produced any fruit until I planted some other apricots nearby, and now it produces some fruit every year although they are pretty much inedible. The other named varieties I planted nearby also produce at least some fruit every year--sometimes just a few from the last flowers to open when the main bloom freezes.

About a mile away, I have a couple more apricots and one tree blooms pretty reliably every year, the others frequently have their flower buds winterkilled. When they all bloom, they all have apricots, but when only the one had good flowers, I had no fruit on any of them. As an experiment, I took a branch in bloom from the flowery rootstock at the first place and tied it in (in a little bottle with water) the reliable bloomer at the second site. Since doing that, the reliable bloomer at the second site has had at least a few apricots every year regardless of whether or not the other trees bloomed, and in good years without freezes produces a lot of fruit.

We also have apricot trees on abandoned old farmsteads in the area, but maybe a mile or more between trees. They will bloom beautifully every year, just covered in blooms, but rarely have more than a handful of fruit if that. I've also noticed that neighbors who have more than one variety of apricot tend to have fruit most years.

So, while winter cold or spring freezes can take most of the flowers, a few will escape but with a pollinator, those few flowers that escape will produce fruit and in the years without a freeze, they produce lots of fruit.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2013 at 2:19AM
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Thanks very much, everyone, for the advice. The complete year-after-year absence of fruits both on my tree in North Carolina and my in-law's tree in Michigan would seem to me to suggest something beyond freeze damage, but I don't know. I know last year (2012) we had an early, warm spring followed by a late April freeze. Would there not have been enough time for fruit to set and me to see it before the freeze took it out (as happened with my Guthrie chickasaw plum, for instance)? If there's a chance another apricot could make the mature tree that's already at my in-laws produce, that's probably what I want to try. In that case, what variety would you all recommend for lower central Michigan? As with the peach tree I asked about in the other thread, likelihood of maturing usable fruit (that isn't going to get sprayed) would trump eating quality for me. If there's any chance of getting even a partial crop in sporadic years, I'd probably gamble on that. I think I've seen positive comments on this forum about Tomcot, Robada, and Orangred. Would any of those be good for MI? Any other recommendations?

    Bookmark   November 8, 2013 at 4:57PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I think Tomcot is the best. It always produces a few later blooms so you will have a chance of getting a partial crop if there is an early freeze. Its also very reliable in every other category. Orangered and Robada have little reliability data outside California.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 8:44PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

dad had one for 25 years.. in metro detroit ...

it only got to fruit twice ...

its the early bloom/late frost that does them in ... with a last frost date near 5/25 .. you just arent going to get fruit often ... that once a decade warm MI spring ....

anyway... back to dad... they all aborted but one bloomed..

and the other year.. the freakin squirrel showed up and ate them all green ....


not a MI crop in my estimate ...


    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 10:12AM
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