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Plump New Apricot Readied for Growers, Gardeners / December 2, 1998 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Plump New Apricot Readied for Growers, Gardeners

By Marcia Wood
December 2, 1998

A new variety of apricot called "Lorna" produces large, sweet-tasting fruit for spring. Lorna is the newest apricot from fruit breeders with the Agricultural Research Service in Fresno, Calif.

For the past seven years, ARS scientists scrutinized about 1,000 trees of this experimental apricot in research and commercial orchards in central California. The trees consistently produced generous harvests of firm, large fruit with dense, fine-textured flesh, according to geneticist Craig A. Ledbetter with the ARS Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory in Fresno. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific agency.

Ledbetter, who supervised the orchard tests, plans to provide Lorna cuttings to researchers and nursery operators early in 1999. The new variety is suitable for backyard gardens as well as commercial production.

Apricots are low in calories and provide vitamin A and potassium--nutrients essential for good health.

California leads the nation in apricot production. The state's 1997 harvest of 132,000 tons was worth about $38 million to growers.

In California, Lorna apricots ripen in mid- to late May, just after Castlebrite--the first commercial apricot of the season. But Lorna apricots are typically twice as big as Castlebrite fruit.

Though tested only in California, Lorna trees probably can also be grown in the apricot-producing regions of Oregon, Washington and Utah. Like most other commercial apricot varieties, Lorna is self-pollinating. This means growers do not need to plant a second kind of apricot as a pollen source for Lorna trees.

Lorna fruit may crack open if rains hit an orchard just before harvest, or if the trees are accidentally over-irrigated. To sidestep those problems, growers can buy crop insurance--to cover rain damage--and take extra care with scheduling irrigation near harvest time.

Scientific contact: Craig A. Ledbetter, ARS Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory, 2021 S. Peach Ave., Fresno, CA 93727, phone (559) 453-3064, fax (559) 453-3088, cabetter@qnis.net

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