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Category Archives: Apricot varieties

Peach leaf curl disease

Peach leaf curl disease (Taphrina deformans) is the main issue you have to be aware of with peach, nectarine and apricot growing. I f you follow my guidelines you will have no trouble with this fungal disease.

Apricot has the same trouble, but in a milder form. However, if you cover your peach tree or your apricot tree with a double layer of garden fleece from late January until the middle of May, every year, or bring the potted tree indoors during the winter months, the disease cannot develop.

Peach leaf curl

Peach leaf curl, photo courtesy of Scot Nelson/flickr.com

The fungus Taphrina deformans attacks the tree species of peach, nectarine and apricot.

The symptoms are the development of large reddish blisters on the leaves. The tree is seriously weakened as photosynthesis by the leaves is seriously affected.

Eventually the tree is starved to death as it is no longer able to make essential carbohydrates through photosynthesis. Leaves tend to fall prematurely and growth comes to a full standstill.

The fungus attacks the tree from early February until the middle of May. After May the fungus is no longer producing spores and therefore cannot cause new infections.

How to avoid peach leaf curl disease

There are various options for controllilng this fungus. Some varieties are more resistant than others. However this is no help if you already have to cope with this problem.

Actions to be taken immediately are the complete removal of leaves affected. This applies to the fallen leaves as well as the affected leaves that still attached to the tree. Make sure the leaves are all collected up, put in a plastic bag and then put in the non-recycling bin. Make sure the tree is well watered and does not stand in a carpet of weeds and grass. Apply a full watering can of water once or twice a week, particularly during the summer months. Mulch the tree with well rotted farmyard manure. The area to be mulched must be of a minimum size of one square yard.

Never let the tree go short of water! By late January cover the tree with a double layer of garden fleece. Fasten the fleece securely. Make sure the wind cannot affect it or lift it off. Keep your eye on the tree and if a tear develops in the fleece after particularly bad weather, repair the damage properly. This fleece needs to stay in position until the second week of May. After that time, carefully remove the fleece.

Never prune the tree during the autumn and winter months when the leaves have fallen. It is at that time that new infections occur very quickly. Prune during the middle of May or during late August, making sure the old wood is removed to make room for new shoots to form. This is essential as the fruits of peach and nectarine are formed on one year wood only. Seal the pruning cuts with “Prune and Seal”, a compound available from your garden centre. The foliage of a well pruned tree dries up quickly, with less chance of new infections.

If it is not possible to cover the peach tree, to avoid the disease you can spray with copper during the first week of February and repeat the spray 14 days later. Follow the instructions on the packet in detail. Garden centres stock it. At leaf fall in late November put on another spray of copper.

Peach leaf curl disease is spread by rain droplets. The fungus over-winters and is hidden in crevices of the bark and between the bud scales. Therefore consider planting a peach tree in a 15 to 18 inch diameter pot. By the end of January, wheel the potted peach tree into a cold shed or a cold green house or a cold poly tunnel. In that way no fleece is needed as the tree is sheltered from the winter rains. By the middle of May it is safe to take the pot outdoors again. Then position the tree in a warm sunny place and water it weekly or twice a week when very warm weather is occurring. Never let the tree go short of water as it will surely die.

Feed the tree monthly with a suitable foliar feed , obtainable from garden centres.

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.

Moorpark

Moorpark, photo courtesy of sarahjb2007/flickr.com

Moorpark, photo courtesy of sarahjb2007/flickr.com

This is a self-fertile apricot, but it crops better when planted with another apricot variety. After attractive pink-white blossom in spring, the fruit is large, yellow and tasty, good fresh and for cooking and preserves. It ripens from late July through to late August. Tends to overcrop if not thinned in June. Best fruit size is achieved when the fruits are spaced 8 inches apart.

Click here to go to the Tree Varieties page, where you can select this and other varieties in a provisional order

Golden Glow

Golden Glow, photo courtesy of coblands_plants/flickr.com

Golden Glow, photo courtesy of coblands_plants/flickr.com

This self-fertile (no pollinator required) apricot variety is the result of a chance discovery, a seedling found in Worcestershire in 1985. It is therefore ideal for UK conditions. It is a reliable cropper, producing mid-sized yellow fruit of excellent flavour. The apricots ripen in early August, and are great for eating fresh, and for preserves and desserts. The tree does best in a sunny and sheltered location, particularly against a south-facing wall.

Click here to go to the Tree Varieties page, where you can select this and other varieties in a provisional order

Early Moorpark

Early Moorpark

Early Moorpark

Early Moorpark is an apricot that is ideal for growing in the UK. The fruit is pale orange in colour, and it ripens in late August. It has great flavour, ideal for eating fresh and for making preserves and desserts. This variety is a reliable cropper. The tree can be grown free-standing, or trained as a fan against a south-facing wall.

Click here to go to the Tree Varieties page, where you can select this and other varieties in a provisional order