Pruning Apricot Trees

Guidelines for Pruning Apricot Trees

            Growing your own sweet, delicious fruit can be as easy as purchasing, planting and pruning apricot trees in your yard.  While that may seem too easy, there is really very little else required except for the harvesting of your fruit.

            Everyone knows that consuming adequate quantities of fruit is good for our overall health, and the fresher the fruit, the more nutrients obtained.  The fruit bins in the grocery store proclaim their freshness, but in truth there is no way to know how long they’ve been off the tree.  There was a time when only fruits that were in season could be purchased fresh in the stores; with improved transportation and storage procedures, however, it is possible now for fruits to be nearly always available since they can be grown in warmer climates and then shipped to different areas of the country.  The only way to truly know the freshness of your fruit is to grow and pick it yourself.   

            Apricots are popular fruits because they are delicious and nutritious.  One cup of apricots is only 74 calories, and with 3 grams of fiber can be very filling making it ideal for a food choice in weight loss.  While the sugar count is at 14 grams, they are natural sugars that the body can deal with easily.  Their nutritional value is excellent, as they are high in both vitamins A and C, and they are good sources of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, niacin, and vitamins K and B6.  These golden nuggets of sweetness are also great sources of calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium; all elements our bodies need to function properly and optimally. 

            Growing your own apricot tree can be done from seed if you are interested in the process and don’t mind waiting several years for the first harvest.  For faster results, visiting your local nursery can equip you with a young tree that may begin bearing fruit immediately.  Typical fruit bearing starts in the tree’s third or fourth year when the tree is properly maintained.  Pruning apricot trees will be the best way to optimize the tree’s yield, so it is important to begin this care early.  When purchasing a young tree from an experienced nursery, the initial pruning will have already begun.  Apricots, like peaches and plums, produce on second year wood.  Pruning with a heavy hand in the first years will delay high fruit yields from your tree. 

            The best time of year to prune is in the summer since apricots fruit early in the year.  Light annual pruning can be done in order to keep branches from crossing each other or rubbing, but for the most part, should be kept to a minimum.  The fruit of the apricot tree emerges on little spurs which will produce for about three years before it dies away.  The idea of pruning is to encourage new growth which will initiate the production of fruit.  Pruning apricot trees starts at the bottom.  Remove any branches that are within 20 inches of the ground, any broken branches and any branches that have tight crotch angles.  Remaining branches should be vertical, widely angled and symmetrically balanced.  The leader stem should be trimmed down.  While the tree should be inspected yearly for damaged limbs, actual pruning needs only to be completed every other year.  As the tree matures, the limbs will become thicker and heavier, and will only require pruning every three years. 

            The benefits of properly pruning apricot trees will be in the fruit yield; a healthy and vigorous tree should produce two or three bushels of apricots each year.  That equates to a lot of healthy eating for a minimum of work.



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