Introduction to Growing Apricots:
The following information is about Growing Apricots and Cultivation Practtices.
The Apricot is one of the edible fruits; the tree of Apricot is a deciduous tree. It is also known as stone fruit. These Apricots are very closely related to cherries, plums, almonds, and peaches. The Apricots are originated from the genus of Prunus. The Apricots belongs to the Rosaceae family. Apricots are scientifically named as Prunus armeniaca. There are about 3,400 species that include the Rosaceae family. These have originated in North-eastern China near the border of Russian. In this there are only 430 species of Apricots in their Rosaceae family.
In India, these Apricots are mainly grown in North – Western India States like Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Turkey is one of the largest producers of Apricots. These are used in the preparation of jams, cakes and cookies. The pits of Apricots are used in the flavouring the liqueurs and also used in producing oils. These can be eaten fresh or after they dried, they can be consumed.
Characteristics of Apricots:
Plant: The Apricot plant is a small tree, they grow up to 8 – 12 cm in length, and the diameter of the trunk will be 40 cm.
Leaves: The leaves are ovate in shape, the leaves are 5 – 9 cm in length and the width of the leaf is 4 – 8 cm, they are rounded at the base, and the tip is pointed and the margin is finely serrated.
Flowers: The Apricot plant blooms a flower, which is 2 – 4.5 cm in diameter, the flower has 5 white – pinkish petals, they are produced singly or in pairs, they bloom in early spring.
Fruit: The Apricot fruit is similar to the drupe, they are small in size, the fruit is 1.5 – 2.5 cm in diameter, they are yellow – orange in colour, the surface of the fruit is smooth, it has very short velvety hair. The flesh is firm and the fruit will not be juicy.
Seed: The fruit contains a seed, which is hard, and also has a stoney shell so they are called as kernel or stone. They are smooth in texture.
Properties of Apricots:
Nutrients that are present in Apricots are:
- Fat: 0.4 g
- Energy: 48 kcal
- Protein: 1.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 11 g
- The vitamins of Apricots are Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Vitamin K.
- The minerals that are present in Apricots are iron, zinc, calcium, sodium, potassium phosphorus, manganese and magnesium.
Cultivars / Varieties of Apricots:
These are the popular varieties of Apricots:
- Royal Rosa
- Moon gold
- Plum parfait
- Golden amber
Soil and Climate requirements for Growing Apricots:
For Growing Apricots, the soil, which is required should be well aerated and well drained. There should be no water logging in any climatic conditions. The pH level, which is required for Growing Apricots is 6.0 -7.0. The pH level of the soil should not be too basic or too acidic. The soil should be efficient in organic matter in it. The soil must be good in moisture retention capacity.
These Apricots grow well in colder climates and also in colder regions. The chilling hours, which are required for Growing Apricots is 300 – 700 hours. The dry climate is needed during the growth of the fruit. More than any other plants, Apricots plants can tolerate colder climates. To the Apricot crop frost during spring will be harmful. The Apricot plants should be covered from theses climates. The warm climate will help the plant to grow normally. The Apricot plant prefers a lot of sunshine. To grow Apricots average rainfall is preferred.
Land preparation and Planting for Growing Apricots:
The land should be prepared well by applying farmyard manure, before all this the land should be prepared by removing the weeds, unwanted roots of previous crop, pebbles, and stones. The land should be ploughed several times as it will attain fine tilth and smooth texture of the soil. After the ploughing the levelling and harrowing should be done. After ploughing the field should be supplied with farmyard manure. The drainage should be good so that the water, which is excess should be drained so the drainage should be good.
The grafted rootstocks should be planted after the grafting methods, these rootstock will represent to the growth of the plant. And the scion will represent the growth of fruit. After the grafting gets completed, then they should be transplanted to the main field. For transplantation too shallow or too deep soil should not be used in the soil. After the planting the plants should be irrigated lightly. At the time of flowering and fruiting the irrigation is very required.
Propagation method for Growing Apricots:
The propagation of Apricots can be done through seeds, bud grafting, whip and tongue grafting.
The seed, which is removed from the fruit should be sown in water and then it should be sown in the pit. But in general the farmers who are producing the Apricots for commercial purpose do not prefer this method as it takes long time for the germination.
The bud and the bark should be cut from the parent plant. Similarly a cut of rootstock sliver, the little tip should base to the slot of the scion. Then they both should be joined together and bind. In meanwhile, the scion bud will grow into the shoot, which will further develop into a plant.
Whip and tongue grafting:
On a rootstock we should make a cut with a tongue, which is pointing up. Same with the help of tongue a pointing cut should be done downwards, then they both should be joined with a tape and the graft should be covered well.
Manure and Fertilization method in Growing Apricots:
The land should be manured at the time of land preparation. After some time, the land should be supplied with the appropriate amount of Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus these should be applied in the main field in split doses. If there is any deficiency of micro-nutrients they should be applied to the land. Before all this a soil test should be done, so that we can know the requirement of micro and macro nutrients that are required for the land. This will also help the crop to get the proper and required nutrients. We should never apply the fertilizers in an overdose. After the fertilization process, the irrigation should be given. If there is any requirement of organic manure and bio fertilizers they should also be given to the land.
Irrigation methods in Growing Apricots:
The irrigation of Apricots plants should be as follows, in the summer they should be irrigated regularly if the soil is dry, if the soil is wet then the irrigation is not needed. In summers, that is in the month of May – June the irrigation should be given for 10 – 12 days. During April – May, the fruit start developing then the irrigation is required. And also the frequency of irrigation depends upon the type of the soil, weather conditions and also tree age. If there is any chance of heavy rains, then the water should be drained well there should not be any water logging near the plants as this will cause the root rot.
Intercultural methods in Growing Apricots:
Weeding: The weeding should be done regularly, so that the crop doesn’t get affected with any pest and diseases. Especially in early stages of Apricot crop the weeding should be done. The weeding can be done manually or by spraying weedicides or pesticides.
Pruning: For Apricot plants, pruning should be done regularly so that the plant doesn’t get affected by pest or diseases. The unwanted stems, branches, twigs can be removed from the trees, as this will also help the air to penetrate inside the tree freely. The pruning will also help in proper flowering and fruit setting.
Mulching: The weeds and pruned stem can be mulched in the soil as this will help the soil to conserve or hold the moisture well.
Training: The plant should be trained from the initial stages itself for trialling the wall or fencing as this will be more efficient as the plant takes more space the other plants do not get space for their development.
Thinning:For Apricots thinning is very necessary, this will help us to maintain good size and proper quality of fruits.
Pest and Diseases control measures in Growing Apricots:
The pest and diseases that affect the Apricots plants are
- Leaf roller
- Oriental fruit Mouth
- Japanese beetle
- Plum curculio
- Tent Caterpillars
Control of pests:
- These can be controlled by in a natural way
- By spraying chemical solutions also these can be controlled.
- Bacterial Leaf spot
- Brown Rot
- Crown Gall
- Bacterial canker
- Coryneum Blight
- Jacket Rot
- Powdery Mildew
Control of Diseases:
- By spraying some fungicides, these diseases can be controlled.
- These diseases can be controlled by natural methods.
If there is regularly pruning and weeding the occurrence of pest and diseases will gradually less.
Harvesting techniques in Growing Apricots:
The harvesting can be done in the first week of the May- June in general, but sometimes it differs as per the variety of Apricot. After planting the plant then the tree starts bearing the fruits in the 5th year. The farmer gets the maximum yield when the tree attains 8 to 10 years of its age. The fruit bearing will continue up to 35 years. The harvesting can be done manually by choosing well ripen and fully matured fruits. After the harvesting, then the fruits can be separated for freezing, drying and canning purposes.
Post harvesting techniques in Growing Apricots:
- Cleaning: The fruits should be washed and cleaned after they are harvested from the tree.
- Sorting: They should be sorted as per the shape and size
- Grading: Apricots are graded as per their quality and size.
- Storage: Apricots can be stored in a cool storage room for 1 – 2 weeks at a 0◦C, by maintaining the relative humidity at 85 – 95 %.
- Packing: These should be packed in a wooden boxes and carton boxes as per their size, shape, colour and quality.
- Marketing: The Apricots have high demand in local and also in international markets. In huge quantities the Apricots are exported to other countries.
Yield of Apricots:
The Apricots yield completely differs for each and variety. It also depends on the cultural activities and care taken for the plants. The average yield of Apricots is 15 – 25 tonnes per hectare of land or else 50 – 85 kg per tree is obtained.
Read: Growing Lemon Grass In India.