Here on the KY/TN border, I’ve always known that I would very rarely get fruit from my apricot trees. They almost always bloom before frost and freezing temperatures are done for the year. But I can live with that. I thought I’d just let them grow, and perhaps every 5 years or so when the planets lined up just right I’d get some fruit…and I have (once in 6 years!). But I’m ok with that and that isn’t what this thread is about.
It looks like I have one and possibly two apricot trees dying this year. They were a 3 and 4 year old tree! They have always been healthy trees, and this year they started off gang-busters by blooming and then starting to leaf out. But at about 1/2 inch leaf green, they suddenly just wilted and petered out. One of them seems dead, the other MIGHT be starting to push new growth again at the bottom.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time this has happened. I’ve previously had 2 other apricots die for equally unknown reasons. I’ve also had very large limbs just die-whole limbs. But the rest of the time all my apricots look very healthy. This really has me stumped. For all my various struggles with all my other trees, I have almost never had anything else just completely DIE. Yet I’ve had 4-5 apricots die over the last few years.
There are no really big signs of trouble on the trees that I can provide you to help figure out my problem. I just have healthy trees for years, then they die or part of them die, usually after they start leafing out in late spring.
Anyone every heard of this? Any idea what could be causing it? Are apricots prone to some kind of sudden death thing or is it just me and mine? Mine all grow just feet away from plum, peaches, cherries, etc that have shown no ill health. I’m lost here and would appreciate any information. Thanks
I don’t know. But even though I’ve had crops from a few trees (when I’ve managed to keep the squirrels away!) I’ve had very limited success with apricots.
My only counsel would be to quit buying them. Instead, find an healthy old apricot and grow them from seed, or graft to a good rootstock that does well with your other stonefruit. The idea, the hope, is that you’ll chance on a genetic source that does well where you are.
@alan has had lots of problems with apricots dying suddenly. His theory if I recall correctly was sudden temperature changes were a big factor. I don’t have problems myself, I have only lost one apricot and it was on peach rootstock with really bad borers. You may be getting more sudden temperature changes like Alan is getting.
It’s not sudden temperature swings. Apricots do great here on the plains. They are long lived trees even with very limited water. This past winter our weekly temperatures included an average high of 76 and an average low of 20F. One week it was 77F for a high and 10F for the low but we averaged a 56F temp swing for the 13 weeks of winter. That doesn’t happen in NY, MD, TN, or CA all places where apricots can die for little reason. CA has the steadiest winter temperatures in the USA. What all those places have that we don’t is wet winters. The trees die in spring as if the roots are dead. The wet cold of winter is probably damaging the roots.
I’ve lost apricots to a late cold snap after they’ve broken dormancy and started to leaf out. I’ve lost more to eutypa dieback. Between these two threats, I’ve given up on apricots here (coastal northern California).
I don’t know if you have eutypa in your environment, but if you do, pruning only during a hot/dry spell in the summer may be enough to keep it at bay.
We’ve had many spring freezes with no dead apricot trees. The trees take spring freezes very well. The trees die in spring as if hit by a freeze. But it’s the roots that are dying in winter when the soil is wet. When the trees leaf out there are no functioning roots and the leaves dry up.
Don’t think that was the case here. The same late freeze (last year) that took out the apricots also killed four or five young apple trees outright. It appeared that the cambium on all these trees was frozen - it very quickly turned brown right to the ground. Only one, a young Shell on MM111, survived; about five inches of cambium above the graft stayed green, and it’s bounced back fine.
It was an unusual event. I’ve never lost apples that way before. Apricots, on the other hand, often succumb to eutypa here. Almonds do, too.
Late March or early April, I think. Wasn’t expecting it and so didn’t note the temperature, but I think it must have been in the high teens or low 20s. Did a lot of damage; froze almost all of my plum and peach flower buds, too.
I agree, @Matt_in_Maryland, @fruitnut’s theory could well explain my problem. My apricots are all in a fairly wet area -slow draining at least. And this spring we had so much rain that the area they are in was almost constantly wet. So water could indeed be the problem. hmmm.
There isn’t necessarily a single cause- I’ve had enough apricots die to account for plenty of reasons.
I don’t think that having a single large branch wilt and die (something that has happened to me) would be explained by a root issue. I’ve also had trees which were fine until a sudden late frost (~18F after bloom). I’ve had others start to grow, then wilt with the whole tree dying (roots?).
It’s gotten to the point that I’m thinking about grafting apricots as single branches on plum trees, so that when they die, most of the tree continues on. Anyone have a good idea what type of plums they are most compatible with? Some apricot grafts on cherry plums (Sprite/Delight, not Nadia) are doing pretty well for me after 1 year. I also have some on Krymsk 1 which are growing decently.
Things are getting interesting. Someone just PM’d me and had some helpful information and also linked me to a thread from 2016 that was extremely helpful. @BobVance and others here posted on that as well. One possiblity explored there was Monilia- something I didn’t know about until just now but really looks and sounds a lot like what I may have happening. In fact, and I really hadn’t thought of this before now, but I’ve also had a few young cherry trees affected the same way I am describing in this thread happening to my apricots, except the cherries only loose a limb. Monilia might explain both from what I’ve read. I’m going to look more into it. I also am intrigued by @jerry 's mentioning of eutypa dieback- that also seems to fit my situation somewhat so I’m going to explore that more also. Thanks for all the great info.
My 2 Moorpark Apricots, now 5th leaf, did something this year I haven’t seen them do. All previous years, like most others Apricots, mine bloomed crazy early. Last year it was the 3rd week of Feb, and always lasted about a week of bloom time. This year both trees began to bloom in the ice and wet snow of mid-March, but they continued to bloom heavily for 3 weeks, then pushed out sparse oddball blooms for another 10 days. I’ve found a few pea sized fruit that set and may actually see a ripe one this year. What length of bloom time do others get? The trees are healthy and in well drained soil, and can’t fault them since they try so hard. I’ll probably graft on a few other varieties next year, some I’ve seen praised on here.
“The apricot is native to the Asian re- gions of Himalaya, China, and Armenia and is currently grown in several regions with climates ranging from sub-tropical to Mediterranean and our desert climate.” This is from a Google search “apricot native growing regions” Grow them on a mound or hill in loamy soil, or on root stalk that can tolerate excess moisture. Just my 2 cents. My two 8 year old apricot trees have several hundred fruit each, way more than last season. Apricot trees prefer growing in a semi arid environment. Emulate that environment if you can.
No, the roots often survive. I think the problem is too much water in the cambium cells at the time of sudden drops of temps in early spring. I also don’t think you can know about how vulnerable they are based on a single site. My soil doesn’t hold water long and on my property apricots may not bear well out in the open, but they usually don’t die- at least not the proven cold-hardy ones.