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Apricots in NE England – it is possible!

One of the surprise hits of the garden has been the self-fertile frost-hardy apricot tree Kioto, from Swiss specialist fruit growers Lubera.

It has glorious white blossom from almost red buds in late March/April, followed by a surprisingly heavy crop of fruit in  August (later than the expected time of July but who’s complaining).

I was staggered when the apricot arrived – in a 10l pot, it was getting on for 7ft tall and the most solid two-year-old tree I’ve had delivered.

It grows to 2-4m, although can be contained with pruning. It cost £30.40 – not cheap, but a really sturdy specimen.

It’s best in the shelter of south or west-facing walls, which is where mine is – avoid easterly-facing positions, where morning sun on frosty mornings will destroy the blossom and ruin your crop.

For more details, log on to www.lubera.co.uk – delivery is just £4.99 per order.

Thinning apricots

Apricot Kioto
Apricot Kioto in need of thinning

Being a complete novice when it came to growing apricots, I was delighted my Kioto tree had any fruit at all in its first year.

A few fruitlets were shed in early summer, but apparently, there’s a ‘June drop’, the same as apple trees.

Although apricots are less prone to ‘overbearing’ (setting too much fruit that won’t ripen and depleting the energy of the plant, often leading to biennial fruiting), some thinning is required with a heavy set.

Thin to 2-3″ apart when the fruits are hazelnut sized – which is early June.

Pruning apricots

Another good thing is that they don’t need complicated pruning like apples and pears.

In fact, as a member of the cherry family, DON’T prune at all in winter, as trees can develop silver leaf, a fungal disease.

Spores are released from September to May under damp conditions.

If you need to do any formative pruning or removing dead branches, do it in high summer when silver leaf spores are less likely to be around.