Best apricot varieties for southern California

If you want an extended harvest of apricots in southern California, you are in for some disappointments if you rely on the local nurseries. Goldkist does well but the flavor is not top tier. Katy does not produce and never really tasted good for me when it did. The late season Dave Wilson varieties are not top tier, though Earli Autumn was decent and reliable. Early season Royal Rosa was amazingly productive but I never tasted one that made me say “hey that was great!”

I think I finally figured out how to get low chill high flavor over an extended harvest.

Early to Mid May: Nicole. The flavor was delicious. Strange looking redness but taste was wonderful.

2 weeks later (est) - Bonny Royal (set incredibly well for me on a graft, and despite heavy pruning to shape it). I may get fruit drop since the tree is investing in growth, but the fruit is fully formed and it clearly pollinated and set normal fruit

Mid June - Royal/Blenheim/Tropic Gold. Not much difference between these. They are all amazing. I have 3 trees and they definitely alternate bear for me. They are not in synch so I always get at least one tree with a full crop. It isn’t the chill, its the alternate bearing.

Early July - Steindorf Blenheim. A sport of Blenheim, flowers and fruits later than Blenheim. Bore for me on a young tree last year and produced very well. About to flower now and I will assess productivity this year.

Overall the flavor on these was far and away better than the local varieties. Nurseries should offer these. Bonny Royal is proprietary with possibility of being more open to home gardeners but everything else is free for any nursery to produce. I would recommend Nicole and Steindorf be added to So Cal nurseries. And Bonny Royal if it is available and if it proves consistent over time.


My Blenheim in southern California produces every year when I do most of my pruning in July. I get light years when I prune in winter. :man_shrugging:

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I have heard Blenheim tastes the best in southern California. Although taste is very subjective how would you compare it to Nicole? Is Nicole firm? Sweet acid balance?

It was sweet and aromatic. It was firm. It had some acidity. Blenheim is my favorite and if I had to choose, I would rank Nicole a notch lower. But sometimes the difference is interesting. I definitely look forward to eating them (if no fruit drop, it is just on grafts and there are not all that many).

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Where did you buy Nicole? I’m looking at planting an entire tree for it rather than grafting.

I got a graft of it at CRFG exchange. Fowler’s sells it I believe. I have never ordered from them. I agree, buying a full tree makes sense. Now that I see how good they are I wish I had done that, but I was testing a lot of varieties and did not know. They also sell Apache, which did fruit for me but not very much, and only last year, not this year.

Regarding alternate bearing, I should clarify that it is not all or none. Just a lighter crop some years. Not related to weather, seems to be each tree taking a rest every 2-4 years,

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Thanks for this post. Great info looks like my Katy apricot is going to get some grafting. It has been a. Dry light producer

@JamesN how many chill hours do you get in your location? Do you get below freezing temperatures in the spring that may zap blooms/fruitlets. I saw in another post that you live in Poway, which has some elevation, so perhaps you get enough chilling hours to allow you to expand beyond the very low chill varieties.

Somewhere around 300 hours. This is avocado country. It’s definitely not a high chill climate. It really is low chill. But it is higher chill than the coastal areas.

I don’t think Southern California coastal and Southern California inland are the same climates. Sometimes we forget to differentiate them. I am definitely southern California inland.

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Do you know your elevation? Do you have other stone fruit trees? Which varieties?

Everything along Highway 15 is the same elevation. It is so low nobody really pays attention to it. I am sure it is less than 1000 feet. I have mountain biked to the ocean from here and there isn’t much downhill.Yes, I grow a great diversity of varieties because I don’t trust chill estimates unless they have been validated. And almost none of them have.

A lot of chill estimates come from bloom dates. So if something blooms late they assume it is high chill. That is proving to be incorrect in many cases.

That being said, I do think we are in a good climate. I don’t want to create false hopes. The higher the temperature swings in the winter the more confused the plants get. So if you are in the southwest desert or a climate like that it can be really disheartening to try to grow these. I think I am just close enough to the coast to temper that. And just far enough that I get more chill.


I see you are in Delaware. Are you getting the late frosts that kill your buds? My brother in Denver struggles with that. I got that bad in 2017 but most years I am okay. Only my bananas and avocados suffer from the frost.

My late blooming varieties are Steindorf, Moorpark, Sparks, Hemskirke, Alameda hemskirke, Tomcot. Most of those are just grafts though. I also have a seedling of Anya. I did what Stan did, I planted seeds of Candycots from Andy Mariani. I did not do it right, just threw the seeds on the ground, so I only got 1 seedling. If I were in your zone I would find that to be a fun experiment.

Sounds like you are in a great zone.


Yes, in Delaware. Climate here for high chill fruit growing is much better than most of the country except pacific states. We still suffer from late frosts once every five years or so. Our biggest problems are too much rain, disease and somewhat short season (April to October). I wish I can grow in ground figs and citrus, and be able to pick apples in January :slight_smile:


Tomcot is an early bloomer for me, this year it started blooming Feb 18. Moorpark is a mid-season bloomer, Feb 27 this year. Spark’s Mammoth, Steindorf Blenheim, Hemskirke, and Alameda Hemskirke are also mid-season bloomers, just a few days after Moorpark.

Hi Stan,

Your dates help give outside reference. Those I called late are probably just late for me but actually are midseason.

What are your top late blooming apricots?

Many white apricots are late bloomers, including Afghanistan, Lasgerdi Mashhad and Zard (interestingly, Moniqui, another similar white apricot, blooms quite earlier). Many of my Anya seedlings bloom late. Ilona, Florilege, Roxburgh Red, and Hoyt Montrose also bloom late, but they didn’t fruit for me yet (Roxburgh Red actually produced a couple of fruits but too early to tell how good it is).

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would this be a signal to say Moniqui might have lower chill (relatively) requirement compared to Afganistan, Zard and LM? I know all white apricots are high chill varieties, but wondering if Moniqui is lower than others

The relationship between required chill and time of blooming is not that straightforward. The Arboreum lists Moniqui at 800 hours and LM at 750 hours, although I have no idea how accurate these estimates are.

@JamesN Has your Alameda Hemskirke fruited? How would you rate it? How would you compare it with Bonny Royal, Blenheim, Moorpark, Anya?

I have a couple branches grafted and I do have a few full fruit this year for the first time. I previously tasted these varieties at Andy’s Orchard and I would say that Bonny Royal was like Blenheim, but harder. Moorpark was the best there for aromatic complexity, but Anya was the best for sweetness. Alameda Hemskirke was like Moorpark, but I did think Moorpark was better slightly. All of these were so good they are worth growing, and in San Jose they should fruit reasonably well.

Since @Stan grows all these in his own yard, let’s see what he says.