realenglishfruit

Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

Monthly Archives: April 2014

Apricot growing in the UK

Early Moorpark

Early Moorpark

We have a fine Apricot in our garden, and we have achieved excellent results. Here is a summary of what we have learned over the years.

It’s easy to grow. It has to be on a South-facing wall; it will need a space of approx. 6 to 7 metres wall length (this length can be shorter, but in this case, more summer pruning is necessary.) The planting hole needs to be thoroughly prepared. Use John Innes tree planting compost and make sure the tree is not exposed to a leak in the a gutter.

It’s important to provide thermal protection for the tree from mid February to the end of May. Fix large-size shelf brackets to the wall above the apricot tree and construct a wooden shelf. Use this to fasten a double layer of fleece each year around the second week of February. Cover the entire tree, and make sure the wind cannot blow it off at any time. Lift the fleece during the day only, when the tree is in flower, sp that pollinating insects can carry out their work. All this is necessary because the Apricot is very sensitive to frost. In addition, until leaf starts to develop, it is sensitive to “peach leaf curl” and bacterial canker. The great thing about apricot growing is that you do not need to use any chemicals, if you protect the tree as outlined above.

While the tree loves organic matter around its base, it’s important to keep it away from the trunk. It hates the grass around its base, so mulch the tree well, in order to keep grass and weeds at bay. Never let the tree struggle for moisture, and thin the young fruitlets when the size of a large pea, spacing them to at least 4 to 5 inches apart. Pick the fruit when turning yellow in August. At this stage, flavour will have developed well.

An apricot should never be pruned during the winter months, but always when there is a full canopy of leaves.

 

 

Tree development:

February/March of the first year:
Start with 2 side branches. Cut these back by about 2 inches. Remove all other growth (March). Promote strong growth by ensuring that there is sufficient water, nutrients and warmth (using the fleece as detailed above). Seal all fresh pruning cuts with “Heal and Seal” compound. This protects against bacterial canker.

Late September of the first year:
Select 2 shoots on either side. Tie in with bamboo canes at 45 degree angles. Cut the original side branches and the extra 4, back by about a third of their length. Continue to feed well (slow release fertiliser, Osmacote or the equivalent).

February/March of the second year:
Select the final 2 branches, and carry out the same procedure as in the first year.

From then onwards:
After cropping, cut out the wood that carried a crop (i.e. in August). Tie in new canes to replace the wood that carried fruit. Apricot crops best on younger wood. Never prune apricots during the winter months but ALWAYS as soon as you have picked the crop. This helps to avoid disease from developing. The same applies to plums, cherries, apricots, peach and nectarines.

Thinning:

Golden Glow, photo courtesy of coblands_plants/flickr.com

Golden Glow, photo courtesy of coblands_plants/flickr.com

It is important to remember that apricots tend to over-crop, and this leads to having too much crop one year and not enough the year after. To prevent this, you should observe the 1-year old wood of fully-grown healthy trees. If there is an abundance of blossom on this wood, then this wood needs to be cut back before the blossom has a chance to set fruit.

Secondly, once the size of the best young fruits has reached around 10mm, it is the right time to seriously reduce the number of fruits. Bring back bunches of fruitlets to singles and space the fruits 6 to 8 inches apart. Always retain the largest fruits. Continue to foliar feed the tree, and water the tree during the summer months. A shortage of moisture during the summer will affect the quality of the fruit buds the following year. If any summer pruning needs to be done later during the summer months, remove strong-growing surplus laterals. Do not cut out any new shoots which have closed down early. These usually carry the best fruit buds for the following year and therefore should be retained.

We can supply apricot varieties suitable for growing in the UK. Click here to go to the tree varieties page, where you can use the web form provided to ask for any additional information you may require with regard to your order.

The Suffolk Fruit & Trees Orchard Pack

Saturn, photo courtesy of graigfarm.co.uk

Saturn, photo courtesy of graigfarm.co.uk

“No man is an island,” and in the same way, no tree is an island. Just as a person’s life is enriched by the people with whom he or she interacts, a fruit tree interacts with the other trees in the vicinity. This is why we developed our Orchard Pack, five trees chosen specifically to create a small biological community in which all the trees help each other, growing and cropping better.

We could say that our standard Orchard Pack consists of two apple trees, a plum, a pear, and a cherry or a greengage. But in actual fact, for Suffolk Fruit & Trees there is no standard Orchard Pack, because it will always be tailored for each customer. If you are not sure about exactly which trees you want, we will suggest a combination of varieties appropriate to your geographical location, your site and your soil. This is the best guarantee of success. Perhaps you know exactly which varieties you want, and in this case you just have to check that they are available on our Tree Varieties page – we are proud to offer one of the most extensive ranges of trees on the market – and specify the varieties in your order.

The Suffolk Fruit & Trees Orchard Pack can be customized in all sorts of ways. Many people like the fruit to ripen over an extended period, so that fresh fruit is available for as many months as possible. Our orchard pack is the perfect package with which to achieve this, as you can choose different types of fruit. For example, a classic sequence of fruit ripening from early to late in the season could be: apricot, peach/nectarine, cherry, plum/greengage, apple/pear. The sequence can be spread out futher by using specific varieties in the different groups.
Some customers ask for ornamental apple trees – ornamental Malus – outstanding for their blossom but that don’t produce edible fruit. Others ask for five traditional varieties, producing fruit that cannot be found in supermarkets. Others may be interested in varieties good for making apple juice and cider, or cooking apples. For all, we can tailor an Orchard Pack so that the five trees grow well together and crop well. What’s more, for each Orchard Pack we provide comprehensive information and instructions, and we are always on hand for advice at any time.
In short, our Orchard Pack consists of five trees – but with a lot of added extras, in the form of advice and tips based on a lifetime spent growing trees. We work like this because we get enjoyment from growing trees, and this is something that we want to share with you.

Where do you go from here? Just visit our Orchard Packs page, fill in the online form, tell us what you’re looking for, and we’ll get back to you with suggestions and a no-obligation offer.