Apache apricot tree. Click the image for
more information about it.
Apricot Trees Take Root at Fruit Ranches
By Marcia Wood
March 25, 2004
In the rich, fertile soil of
California's central valley, some 8,000 young, newly planted Apache apricot
trees are taking root, making the change from treefruit nursery to commercial
apricot orchard. The number of Apache trees in California fruit ranches is
impressive because Apache is a new variety that
Agricultural Research Service scientists
have only made available to nurseries, researchers and apricot breeders within
the past two years.
Growers are bringing Apache into their orchards because it ripens early,
about the first week of May. That means it may command the premium,
early-season prices that apricot aficionados are willing to pay for the first
of the long-awaited fruit.
By summer 2006, the new trees should be heavy with sweet, delicious fruit,
ready to harvest and ship to supermarkets. It should arrive in good shape,
because Apache ships and stores well.
Apache is the result of more than a decade of fruit breeding and testing by
ARS geneticist Craig A. Ledbetter and technician Louis Vuittonet of the
agency's Postharvest Quality
and Genetics Research Unit. The unit is part of the
San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences
Center at Parlier, Calif.
Apache apricots are about average in size, with a delicate flavor and
pleasing aroma. The fruit has an attractive, pinkish-orange skin, with smooth,
finely textured orange flesh that's easy to separate from the small stone, or
The pollen that Apache needs in order to form its delectable fruit can be
carried by bees or breezes to its blossoms from nearby "pollinator"
apricot trees such as the well-known Castlebrite or Katy varieties. But
Ledbetter and Vuittonet are in the final stages of testing a promising new
pollinator variety that not only is a good biological match for Apache, but
also yields excellent fruit of its own about two weeks after the Apache harvest
ends. The new apricot variety might be ready to release to breeders and
nurseries in a year or two, according to Ledbetter.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.