Two apricot trees story - need advice(mystery solved)

Hi again,
In fall of 2013 I planted dwarf Harglow apricot tree ordered from Stark Bro’s. It came with some strange defect on the bark. I planted it in only spot available on the north side of the orchard, with some shade during the day from the house. Next spring it looked dead till mid of May. As I never grew apricot before I sent message to the seller asking if it has a chance to still be alive.They didn’t answer, instead they sent me a new one - bigger and looking better. But by the time I got it, the first one started to leaf out from main stem, but I had to cut both branches it had. So I planted new one in the pot for now, to transplant in fall into another part of my yard, that was not ready yet and that i thought was much better for it. It is covered from north side with large shed, so I thought it will be much warmer there. It grew a lot in that pot and was transplanted to the new spot in the fall , roots were just fine, and last spring it was all in flowers, despite really cold and unusually long winter of 2014-2015. I removed all flowers to let the branches to grow and they did. The tree trunk doubled, and branches developed like crazy. I expected a good crop this year. But April freeze killed all the flowers on all stone fruits. That’s OK. But my first, small, kind of injured apricot tree is all green now. And the nice and big one just have leaves(kind of weak) on 2 branches. The rest look dead. So several questions come in mind… Is it actually April freeze to blame, or I am not recognizing some disease? If it is April freeze, does it mean that that “warmer” spot is actually colder(it is lower level then main orchard, but no drainage issue, the hill goes even bellow that level.) or may be, that warm spot is actually did more harm by waking the tree up to early, so even leave buds got killed by 15 F? Keeping this in mind, does it make sense to save this tree? Will it be every year issue? My yard is very small, I can’t afford a tree that is not doing good most of the times. But back to my small apricot - that defect on the bark… Is it something I should worry about? I am OK to have just one apricot tree, and my preference would be to have it in the orchard, not in lower level where my garden is. But I hate to kill trees if they can still produce for me. What should i do, what do you think? Here are some pictures bellow:
Small apricot and defect on the bark:

Large apricot in low level

I would say that the small tree most likely either had a peach tree borer or some impact to the trunk. The good news is that it looks close to closing over.
The big tree - you will just have to wait to see if it leaves out.
On both trees- If you never have grown apricots they have two challenges. Frost often kills off the flowers since they tend to bloom very early. There is a KDL spray you can use to help through the cold spells. The bigger issue is that apricots can put on 3-6 feet of growth in a single summer. You need to stay on top of your pruning or you will end up with a tree that has a few 20 foot limbs high in the air. I would prune back each of the branches on the small tree now to about18-20 inches. I know this will seem painful but in the long run you will be happier.
Next spring when you have bloom you can prune again but you will know where the fruit will be and it will be easy to reach and spray.
Like peaches apricots need periodic pruning to fruit on new wood.

Thank you, I didn’t prune this year yet, and this is exactly what I was going to do - remove the middle shoot, remove what is not in the right place to have open vase shape and shorten the branches. Though I didn’t realize they need to be that short - like 18-20 inches, I thought I have to remove 1/3 of the length(this is what I learned from couple written sources.) But I prefer to follow real grower advise:slightly_smiling: I will get them good hair cut. Now, the question is - should it be done now(we still around 40 at night and 55 during the day, and the weather is wet), or wait for couple weeks? And another question. That “Big” apricot tree grew that big in one summer. I did prune it last spring, and it added so much for the summer. Do I need to do summer pruning? If so, what should be done in summer - remove the branches that grow where I don’t need them, remove too thick grows, top long shoots(to what length?) I think if I top long shoots in the middle of the summer, they will start to give me more long shoots right form the cut(had this with my plum tree), is it OK?Do I need to prune those as well? When they reach certain length?

I would prune anytime in the next couple of weeks. I do not summer prune. Late spring pruning helps reduce the risk of fire blight and you get to see where you will get fruit


I think your larger tree may be just delayed, I would wait and see for at least another month.

I try to avoid making any apricot pruning in wet weather, they are too susceptible to bacterial canker. So I would wait until a dry spell. Apricot trees grow throughout summer, so there’s no need to prune them very early in the season.

Galina, it is strange that apricot did not wake up yet. You can cut the tips of the branches to check if the wood is alive. Some times the vigorously growing trees cannot settle down during the autumn and they go into the winter unprepared with green shoots and then freeze. I would suggest to spread the branches of the apricots apart and down, to keep the tree lower and more productive. I also summer prune my apricots and the other stone fruits. Apricots are especially vigorous, so I prune them 3-4 times during the summer. I remove the vigorous shoots where I do not want them to grow and I prune the tips of the rest so they grow shorter and bushier. Pruning in the middle of the October helps the apricots and Asian plums to settle down and to be better prepared for the winter. This spring both of my young apricots set many fruits, but they all were frozen during 25 F freeze. I have only two fruits left, at least I can taste them. You may still ask for the replacement of your apricot if you planted it last year. By the way, I have the second year genetic dwarf apricot Pixie. It is new so there is not a lot information about it. In my experience it definitely smaller, late blooming and precocious as it wanted to set fruits this year. So far I like it.

Antmary, thanks! I did spread the branches last year and tied them in a big tree(small had not really much to tie yet), but untied them in fall. And they just got back up) , if it wakes up, I will tie it again after pruning. I did cut the wood - it looks alive, other then the tips of the branches. For replacement - I am not really sure that I want second apricot of the same kind. In my 6000sq feet yard, I would better plant some other tree. I have one peach, and it is a lot of peaches for two of us. If apricot will produce same amount of fruit - one is plenty. Also I am not really sure that this spot is good for the apricot. It is too warm and sunny when the weather is warm in winter or spring, and too low and gets all the frozen air when the freeze come at night and hits already awake tree… This may be every year problem for this tree. And you right about it didn’t settle for winter. It dropped leaves very late, and the winter was so warm, the soil never really get frozen. So few cold spells we had was enough. About that Pixie apricot - where did you order it and where can I read about it? Something tells me, that I may need another choice, if both of my apricots will not do any good :slightly_smiling:

I got my Pixie cot from Raintree, but I think it is also available elsewhere. I personally like the idea of the small sized tree, which you can cover during the freezes. My other one, the Chinese sweet pit apricot, is getting too big to cover it. There are no reviews from home growers about the taste yet, may be next year I can try it. My apricots are growing on the northern side of the house and they stay in the shade in the autumn and winter, in summer they get plenty of the hot afternoon sun. I hope the next spring I will be more prepared to protect the apricots during freezing spring weather. The flowers actually were quite hardy, they survived several freezes OK, it was the friutlets which were hit by the very last freeze and died. Pixie cot is the new Zaiger development, here is the link:

Thanks a lot!

I have the same problem(s) with my apricot.
The bark problem is especially vexing. I had to remove a substantial limb. I figured I had some kind of borer problem so I used some concentrate that gets absorbed at the roots to kill the borers but it didn’t matter. I still lost bark around the trunk … maybe a much as 1/3. That’s why your photo is disturbing. Looks like you lost around 1/2 and that’s not good.

The other thing is that I’ve had the apricot tree for maybe 8 years and it flowers like a bandit but I’ve NEVER gotten an apricot in those 8 years. I was just outside and I see a very young apricot but they never mature. I always suspected that since it blooms 1st it’s never been warm enough to attract insects and pollination never took place. But it does look really good in bloom.

bubbabgone, what zone you are in? And what kind of apricot you have? You scare me - I can’t afford just flowering tree)

Zone 6.
To be honest, I’m wondering if it has to come down because of the possible borer problem and bark loss.
But it’s a nice looking tree in bloom.

You are in warmer zone then I am. And Goldcot should be OK even for zone 4. It s very strange it doesn’t set fruit. And I know that apricots can grow in my zone(5B) - coworker brought apricots form community garden where they have one tree, and she said it is loaded every year.

It’s strange and pretty depressing. I’ve been using Bee Scent on everything … i’ll try anything.
On the days in the 60’s while it was in bloom I didn’t see any honeybees. There were a bumblebee or 2 and a lot of small flying insects of unknown (to me) identity…
Same thing every year.

Are there hives at that community garden?

That I don’t know - never was there…

If a tree is healthy, there is no need to replace it completely, just graft other varieties onto its branches. You will extend the bloom season (more chance that something escapes a freeze), extend the ripening season (no need to eat/process all fruits at once) and improve pollination.

Ha) Me and grafting - same as dig that tree out and bring it to the trash station! :laughing:If you ask me how to get red tomatoes in the end of April and inground eggplants and peppers in June in zone 5 - I will tell you. But if you ask me anything about grafting - I am toast. I don’t even want to try. The reason for that is - my hands not able to do what my head wants. I mean it. I never can draw a strait line, but I do see every line that is not strait) And this is very frustrating. As I understand grafting all about making a right cut… And this is what I can’t do at all.

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Unfortunately, I think misery of my sleepy apricot tree is solved. I took off plastic trunk protector - and here it is… Gummy staff in volume of a fist above and bellow soil line… When I clean it away - orange bellow it. I guess it is phytophthora root rot. Experts, should I just remove that tree? It is very young, and only one branch of whole tree opens up, and even that one is very slow… And if I understand right, no other tree can go there. So I guess I will have an extra spot for my veggies…

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If this is indeed Phytophthora root rot (which seems very likely based on your description), the tree is a goner.

Do you know which rootstock the tree was on? Some of stonefruit rootstocks are more resistant to Phytophthora than others, but AFAIK none is completely immune.