Apricot Fruit Drop: Causes And Treatment For Apricot Fruit Falling Off
By: Kristi Waterworth
Finally, you have that orchard that you’ve always wished for, or maybe you just needed one apricot tree to make your dreams a reality. Either way, if it’s your first year growing fruit trees, there is something you need to know about: fruit drop. Fruit drop on apricot trees is a common occurrence, although when it happens it may seem like your plant is suddenly very sick or dying. Don’t panic; read on to learn about apricot fruit drop.
Why Apricot Fruits Fall from Tree
Apricot fruit falling off your tree happens because most trees produce significantly more flowers than they need. The odds are that these flowers won’t all be successfully pollinated, so the extras are like insurance for the apricot. In a residential setting where conditions are easier to control, these extra flowers are regularly pollinated and too many fruits set.
The stress of so many fruits causes apricot trees to shed fruits — sometimes twice! The main shed comes in June, when small, immature apricot fruits fall from tree, allowing the remaining fruit more space to grow.
Managing Apricot Fruit Drop
As with peach thinning, you can hand-thin fruits to prevent them from falling off apricot trees unpredictably. You’ll need a ladder, a bucket, and some patience ; it can be time consuming, but hand-thinning is a lot easier than trying to clean up the mess after a fruit shed.
Remove maturing apricots from branches, leaving 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm.) between remaining fruits. This may feel like dramatic thinning, but the fruits that result will be larger and fleshier than they would have been if they were left alone.
Although fruit drop is a yearly event for most apricot trees, apricot scab, which also affects peaches, can also cause fruits to drop. This apricot disease leaves fruits covered in tiny, olive-green spots measuring 1/16 to 1/8 inch (0.15-0.30 cm.) long. As the fruit expands, the spots do too, eventually merging into dark blotches. These fruits may crack open and drop prematurely. Fruits that ripen fully are often only superficially damaged.
Good sanitation, including complete harvest of all fruits and clean-up around the base of the tree during and after fruit ripening, can help destroy the organism. A broad-spectrum fungicide like neem oil can destroy the fungus if applied after harvest and again when buds set in the spring.
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Growing your own fruit can be an extremely rewarding experience. While many trees require years of growth from seed before producing there are many options for getting fruit much sooner. Consider buying a grafted tree that will produce fruit in the first year or buying mature trees that are already producing. Take into considering the schedule for mature fruit and plan a garden that will produce nearly year round! If you are not familiar with permaculture techniques it might be a good subject to read up on before making decisions about what and where to grow your fruit.
- The grapefruit (Citrus × paradisi) is a subtropical citrus tree known for its sour to semi-sweet somewhat bitter fruit. Grapefruit is a hybrid originating in Barbados as an accidental cross between two introduced species, sweet orange (C. sinensis) and pomelo or shaddock (C. maxima), both of which were introduced from Asia in the seventeenth century. When found, it was named the “forbidden fruit”and it has also been misidentified with the pomelo. The grapefruit’s name alludes to clusters of the fruit on the tree, which often appear similar to grapes. The evergreen grapefruit trees usually grow to around 5–6 meters (16–20 ft) tall, although they can reach 13–15 m (43–49 ft). The leaves are glossy dark green, long (up to 15 centimeters (5.9 in)) and thin. It produces 5 cm (2 in) white four-petaled flowers. The fruit is yellow-orange skinned and generally an oblate spheroid in shape it ranges in diameter from 10–15 cm (3.9–5.9 in). Wikipedia
- The common fig tree has been cultivated since ancient times and grows wild in dry and sunny areas, with deep and fresh soil also in rocky areas, from sea level to 1,700 meters. It prefers relatively light free-draining soils, and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Unlike other fig species, Ficus carica does not always require pollination by a wasp or from another tree, but can be pollinated by the fig wasp, Blastophaga psenes to produce seeds. Fig wasps are not present to pollinate in colder countries like the United Kingdom. The plant can tolerate seasonal drought, and the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean climate is especially suitable for the plant. Situated in a favorable habitat, old specimens when mature can reach a considerable size and form a large dense shade tree. Its aggressive root system precludes its use in many urban areas of cities, but in nature helps the plant to take root in the most inhospitable areas. The common fig tree is mostly a phreatophyte that lives in areas with standing or running water. It grows well in the valleys of the rivers and ravines saving no water, having strong need of water that is extracted from the ground. The deep-rooted plant searches groundwater, in aquifers, ravines, or cracks in the rocks. The fig tree, with the water, cools the environment in hot places, creating a fresh and pleasant habitat for many animals that take shelter in its shade in the times of intense heat. Wikipedia
- The banana is an edible fruit – botanically a berry – produced by several kinds of large herbaceous flowering plants in the genus Musa. In some countries, bananas used for cooking may be called plantains, in contrast to dessert bananas. The fruit is variable in size, color and firmness, but is usually elongated and curved, with soft flesh rich in starch covered with a rind which may be green, yellow, red, purple, or brown when ripe. The fruits grow in clusters hanging from the top of the plant. The banana plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant. All the above-ground parts of a banana plant grow from a structure usually called a “corm”. Plants are normally tall and fairly sturdy, and are often mistaken for trees, but what appears to be a trunk is actually a “false stem” or pseudostem. Bananas grow in a wide variety of soils, as long as the soil is at least 60 cm deep, has good drainage and is not compacted. The leaves of banana plants are composed of a “stalk” (petiole) and a blade (lamina). The base of the petiole widens to form a sheath the tightly packed sheaths make up the pseudostem, which is all that supports the plant. The edges of the sheath meet when it is first produced, making it tubular. As new growth occurs in the centre of the pseudostem the edges are forced apart. Cultivated banana plants vary in height depending on the variety and growing conditions. Most are around 5 m (16 ft) tall, with a range from ‘Dwarf Cavendish’ plants at around 3 m (10 ft) to ‘Gros Michel’ at 7 m (23 ft) or more. Leaves are spirally arranged and may grow 2.7 metres (8.9 ft) long and 60 cm (2.0 ft) wide. They are easily torn by the wind, resulting in the familiar frond look. Wikipedia
- The pomegranate, botanical name Punica granatum, is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree in the family Lythraceae that grows between 5 and 8 m (16 and 26 ft) tall. The fruit is typically in season in the Northern Hemisphere from September to February, and in the Southern Hemisphere from March to May. As intact arils or juice, pomegranates are used in baking, cooking, juice blends, meal garnishes, smoothies, and alcoholic beverages, such as cocktails and wine. The pomegranate originated in the region of modern-day Iran, and has been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region and northern India. It was introduced into Spanish America in the late 16th century and into California by Spanish settlers in 1769 Today, it is widely cultivated throughout the Middle East and Caucasus region, north and tropical Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, the drier parts of southeast Asia, and parts of the Mediterranean Basin. It is also cultivated in parts of Arizona and California. In the 20th and 21st centuries, it became more common in the commercial markets of Europe and the Western Hemisphere. Wikipedia
- The lemon, Citrus limon (L.) Osbeck, is a species of small evergreen tree in the flowering plant family Rutaceae, native to Asia. The tree’s ellipsoidal yellow fruit is used for culinary and non-culinary purposes throughout the world, primarily for its juice, which has both culinary and cleaning uses. The pulp and rind (zest) are also used in cooking and baking. The juice of the lemon is about 5% to 6% citric acid, with a pH of around 2.2, giving it a sour taste. The distinctive sour taste of lemon juice makes it a key ingredient in drinks and foods such as lemonade and lemon meringue pie. Lemon juice, rind, and zest are used in a wide variety of foods and drinks. Lemon juice is used to make lemonade, soft drinks, and cocktails. It is used in marinades for fish, where its acid neutralizes amines in fish by converting them into nonvolatile ammonium salts, and meat, where the acid partially hydrolyzes tough collagen fibers, tenderizing the meat, but the low pH denatures the proteins, causing them to dry out when cooked. Lemon juice is frequently used in the United Kingdom to add to pancakes, especially on Shrove Tuesday. Lemon juice is also used as a short-term preservative on certain foods that tend to oxidize and turn brown after being sliced (enzymatic browning), such as apples, bananas, and avocados, where its acid denatures the enzymes. Lemon juice and rind are used to make marmalade, lemon curd and lemon liqueur. Lemon slices and lemon rind are used as a garnish for food and drinks. Lemon zest, the grated outer rind of the fruit, is used to add flavor to baked goods, puddings, rice, and other dishes. The leaves of the lemon tree are used to make a tea and for preparing cooked meats and seafoods. Wikipedia
- A lime (from French lime, from Arabic līma, from Persian līmū, “lemon”) is a hybrid citrus fruit, which is typically round, lime green, 3–6 centimetres (1.2–2.4 in) in diameter, and containing acidic juice vesicles. There are several species of citrus trees whose fruits are called limes, including the Key lime (Citrus aurantifolia), Persian lime, kaffir lime, and desert lime. Limes are an excellent source of vitamin C, and are often used to accent the flavours of foods and beverages. They are grown year-round. Plants with fruit called “limes” have diverse genetic origins limes do not form a monophyletic group. Limes have higher contents of sugars and acids than do lemons.  Lime juice may be squeezed from fresh limes, or purchased in bottles in both unsweetened and sweetened varieties. Lime juice is used to make limeade, and as an ingredient (typically as sour mix) in many cocktails. Lime pickles are an integral part of Indian cuisine. South Indian cuisine is heavily based on lime having either lemon pickle or lime pickle is considered an essential of Onam Sadhya. In cooking, lime is valued both for the acidity of its juice and the floral aroma of its zest. It is a common ingredient in authentic Mexican, Vietnamese and Thai dishes. Lime soup is a traditional dish from the Mexican state of Yucatan. It is also used for its pickling properties in ceviche. Some guacamole recipes call for lime juice. The use of dried limes (called black lime or loomi) as a flavouring is typical of Persian cuisine and Iraqi cuisine, as well as in Persian Gulf-style baharat (a spice mixture that is also called kabsa or kebsa). Lime is an ingredient of many cuisines from India, and many varieties of pickles are made, e.g. sweetened lime pickle, salted pickle, and lime chutney. Key lime gives the character flavoring to the American dessert known as Key lime pie. In Australia, desert lime is used for making marmalade. Lime is an ingredient in several highball cocktails, often based on gin, such as gin and tonic, the gimlet and the Rickey. Freshly squeezed lime juice is also considered a key ingredient in margaritas, although sometimes lemon juice is substituted. Lime extracts and lime essential oils are frequently used in perfumes, cleaning products, and aromatherapy. Wikipedia
- The subtropical species needs a climate without frost and with little wind. High winds reduce the humidity, dehydrate the flowers, and affect pollination. When even a mild frost occurs, premature fruit drop may occur, although the ‘Hass’ cultivar can tolerate temperatures down to −1 °C. The trees also need well-aerated soils, ideally more than 1 m deep. Yield is reduced when the irrigation water is highly saline. Like the banana, the avocado is a climacteric fruit, which matures on the tree, but ripens off the tree. Avocados used in commerce are picked hard and green and kept in coolers at 3.3 to 5.6 °C (37.9 to 42.1 °F) until they reach their final destination. Avocados must be mature to ripen properly. Avocados that fall off the tree ripen on the ground. Generally, the fruit is picked once it reaches maturity Avocados can be propagated by seed, taking roughly four to six years to bear fruit, although in some cases seedlings can take 10 years to come into bearing. The offspring is unlikely to be identical to the parent cultivar in fruit quality. Prime quality varieties are therefore propagated by grafting to rootstocks that are propagated by seed (seedling rootstocks) or by layering(clonal rootstocks). Wikipedia
- A tall evergreen tree, the lychee bears small fleshy fruits. The outside of the fruit is pink-red, roughly textured and inedible, covering sweet flesh eaten in many different dessert dishes. Since the perfume-like flavor is lost in the process of canning, the fruit is usually eaten fresh. They require a tropical climate that frost-free not below −4 °C (25 °F), and with high summer heat, rainfall, and humidity. Growth is best on well-drained, slightly acidic soils rich in organic matter and mulch. A wide range of cultivars are available, with early and late maturing forms suited to warmer and cooler climates respectively. They are also grown as an ornamental tree as well as for their fruit. Wikipedia
- The papaya is a small, sparsely branched tree, usually with a single stem growing from 5 to 10 m (16 to 33 ft) tall, with spirally arranged leaves confined to the top of the trunk. The lower trunk is conspicuously scarred where leaves and fruit were borne. The flowers are sweet-scented, open at night and are moth-pollinated. The fruit is a large berry about 15–45 cm (5.9–17.7 in) long and 10–30 cm (3.9–11.8 in) in diameter. It is ripe when it feels soft (as soft as a ripe avocado or a bit softer) and its skin has attained an amber to orange hue. Wikipedia
- Mangoes are juicy stone fruit (drupe) from numerous species of tropical treesbelonging to the flowering plant genus Mangifera, cultivated mostly for their edible fruit. The majority of these species are found in nature as wild mangoes. The genus belongs to the cashew family Anacardiaceae. Mangoes are native to South Asia,   from where the “common mango” or “Indian mango”, Mangifera indica, has been distributed worldwide to become one of the most widely cultivated fruits in the tropics. Mango trees grow to 35–40 m (115–131 ft) tall, with a crown radius of 10 m (33 ft). The trees are long-lived, as some specimens still fruit after 300 years.  In deep soil, the taproot descends to a depth of 6 m (20 ft), with profuse, wide-spreading feeder roots the tree also sends down many anchor roots, which penetrate several feet of soil. Wikipedia
- Carambola or starfruit, is the fruit of Averrhoa carambola, a species of tree native to the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Seychelles. The fruit is popular throughout Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, Micronesia, and parts of East Asia. The tree is also cultivated throughout non-indigenous tropical areas. The fruit has distinctive ridges running down its sides (usually five but can sometimes vary) when cut in cross-section, it resembles a star, hence its name. The entire fruit is edible and is usually eaten out of hand. They may also be used in cooking and can be made into relishes, preserves, and juice drinks. Wikipedia
Other Notable Options:
- Dragon Fruit
- Goji Berry
- Any many more!
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Planning a garden orchard
Growing fruit trees
Natural and eco-sustainable solutions:
Fruit growing year – a month-by-month list of tasks in a garden orchard
The better the growing conditions, the sooner your tree will bear fruit. Good growing conditions for peaches and their kin mean fertile, well-drained soil with a near neutral pH. If you must plant where the soil tends to stay wet after rains, haul in some well drained soil and build up a 3-foot wide mound at least a foot high for each little plant. Mix in lime if a soil test shows the pH is too low.
Pruning will delay bearing, so trim your seedling trees only to remove dead, diseased or broken stems, as well as those that grow low on the trunk or are crowding others. Most seedling peach trees will grow to 20 feet or so, while apricots typically grow 12 to 15 feet with annual pruning. Pay attention to weeds, water and nutrition. An organic mulch such as compost, leaf mold, leaves or straw goes a long way toward taking care of all three needs. Create a circle of mulch over the root zone that’s a couple inches deep and 3 feet or more in diameter. Keep the mulch a few inches from the trunk to avoid rot and rodent damage. A better solution for keeping rodents at bay is to surround the trunk with a cylinder of quarter-inch mesh hardware cloth. Various insect borers can be deterred by wrapping the trunks with scraps of garden row cover to prevent them from laying eggs in bark crevices.
Peaches self-sow so easily that naturalized peach groves became extensive in America not long after peaches were introduced. Early botanists assumed peaches were native to this part of the world, though their origin has since been traced to China. Sow a few peach pits around your homestead, and before you know it you’ll have a lovely tree that covers itself with beautiful pink blossoms every spring, and homegrown, tree-ripened fruit with flavor to die for.