Stan's harvest diary 2019

That is really impressive Stan… how many hours a week do you spend on your orchard? It seems to me like it’s a full time job to take care of such orchard…

I have a very minimalist approach — only necessary pruning, almost no spraying, etc. A lot depends on season, most work is in the summer (putting on and taking off bird nets, collecting and sorting fruit), early spring (grafting) and mid-spring (fruit thinning). During those periods it can be 3 to 5 hours a day, but much less during other seasons. Also, my wife does a lot of work in the orchard, she maintains the irrigation system and takes care of weeding (which is the most time consuming task).


Golden Sweet apricot — This variety was selected by Bradford Farms near Le Grand, Calif. (central San Joaquin Valley), patent expired in 2014. Harvest started Jun 24. Fruit uniformly medium in size, nicely colored, with red blush on the sunny side. Flesh orange, firm. Flavor very good, intensely sweet (brix 25-30); skin tough, a bit acidic. Only slightly aromatic. When well ripened, this is a very flavorful apricot, which is a bit surprising considering that it was originally developed for commercial growers in the California Central Valley and was supposed to be similar to Patterson. Acidity in the skin nicely contrasts the sweet flesh but perhaps would be less pleasant if the fruit is not fully ripe. Very productive.


Niles apricot. Scionwood from the CRFG scion exchange. Very little known about this variety. In early 20th century, California Nursery Co. was located in town of Niles, Alameda county, CA (now Niles District of Fremont, CA). Also, around that time, significant apricot growing and packing industry existed near Niles. Two fruits on a recent graft, picked Jun 26. Blenheim-type flavor, brix 19-21, good but not special.


July Green Gage (Reine Claude de Juillet) plum. An ancient variety, introduced from Normandy into France and then into England in the 19th century. One of the earliest ripening Gage type plums (along with Opal). Harvest started Jun 21. Typical Gage flavor, sweet and rich, but skin is acidic. Brix 20-21. Freestone.


Good to know that this variety and Opal are early ripening. Thanks for the info.


Great reports Stan! Keep 'em coming!


Great report Stan! Keep it coming.

Can you at the end of the season summarize your top rated apricots/other fruits? I am looking forward to seeing pics and your report on the Moorpark apricot!


Moorpark harvest just started. The most anticipated 10 days of the year. :wink:


No Blenheim?

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I have Blenheim, Losse Blenheim, Norris Blenheim, and Serafin Blenheim. All are pretty similar to each other. They’re good, but no comparison to Moorpark. At least in my growing conditions.


Now is the peak time for Moorpark apricot harvest. This variety was discovered on the Moor Park estate of Admiral Anson, Hertfordshire, England, in 1760. Some authors suggest that it’s a seedling of Hemskerk but most claim it came from a seed of Pêche de Nancy. Either way, it has been the standard of excellence for European apricots since the 18th century. Moorpark is not a perfect apricot. First of all, the tree is quite temperamental with regard to growing conditions; it is not happy in low chill areas (including So. Calif.) but is also tender to cold. In England it was usually grown on a southern wall. Second, it bears irregularly — an occasional huge crop may alternate with several lean years. Third, in most locales the fruit ripens unevenly — one side of the apricot is underripe while the other already turns mushy. Despite these drawbacks, Moorpark is universally praised for its flavor with descriptions like: “exceptionally rich flavor and aroma,” “characteristic Moorpark flavor not found in other apricots,” “juicy and aromatic; sweet rich, plum-like taste,” “luscious, bright orange flesh with a rich greengage-like flavor,” “quite juicy, with a rich and luscious flavor,” and “very juicy, particularly rich and vinous.” Indeed, while this apricot is not overly sweet (for me, brix is usually in the 19-20 range), it has unique flavor and aroma, very rich and nuanced.


Opal plum is a cross of Oullins Gage x Early Favorite, developed in Sweden. In shape, flesh texture, and aroma it resembles Oullins which is a Gage (Reine Claude) type plum, but it inherits its dark purple skin from Early Favorite which is a Perdrigon type plum. This variety is very productive and early (among European plums). Ripening started Jun 18 with a couple of fruits a day and peaked in the last few days (June 29 - July 1). Amber colored flesh is sweet and aromatic, but for me personally, the flavor is a bit too mild, I prefer more intensely flavored fruit.


A bowl of Moorpark apricots ready for vacuum sealing & freezing.


Redsweet apricot is a color variation of Blenheim. Very unusual skin color, it looks almost like a small peach, but flesh color and flavor are very similar to Blenheim.


Do you prefer them frozen or dried? I never enjoyed frozen fruit, but I have never tried top quality frozen fruit either… The only exception is dates, which when fully ripe have so much sugar and creamy flesh texture, to the extent that their flesh consistency is not affected by freezing, they are indistinguishable from fresh ones. Note: They have so much sugar to the extent that if you squeeze them, the resultant syrup will produce crystallized sugar particles, in closed containers, so no evaporation involved. Often times you don’t even need to squeeze them and they will ooze their syrup on their own upon standing.


Stan, you are the man.


We have tried freezing apricots (Moorpark and Tilton) in vacuum sealed bags for the first time last year, and the result was surprisingly good. After defrosting the fruit becomes a bit runny, but all the flavor is still there. What fruits did you eat today? - #1906 by Stan

I think by freezing the outcome is closer in flavor to the fresh fruit. Dried apricots are a different thing from the fresh ones. I do not particularly like dried Turkish apricots that are usually available in the stores (Costco often has them). However, I got some “uryuk” (apricots dried intact, without removing the stone) from the Sateni variety in Armenia last year and those were fantastic.


So, it has been proven — it is possible to grow tart cherry in California inland valleys, zone 9b. This is Lutowka, but Balaton and Juliet also produced a couple dozen cherries each earlier this summer.


Frozen grapes are a great snack!