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Superb Apricot Offered to Growers

By Marcia Wood
September 4, 1997

A big, great-tasting apricot called Robada offers more flavor and aroma than many other commercial varieties. This apricot is the work of fruit breeders with the Agricultural Research Service's Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory in Fresno, Calif.

Robada apricots should be easy to spot: A bright-red blush may tint nearly half the fruit’s surface, depending upon how much sun reaches each ripening fruit. The firm, finely textured flesh is an attractive deep orange. Apricots are low in calories and good sources of vitamin A and potassium.

Robada ripens from mid to late May--the peak of the California apricot harvest. That state produces most of the U.S. crop. ARS researchers have tested Robada only in California, but it may perform well in other apricot-growing regions.

Plump Robadas average about 2-1/2 inches in diameter. The variety ships well and is intended for fresh-market sales, but further testing might reveal whether it’s suitable for drying, canning or freezing. Like most other commercial apricots, Robada is self-pollinating. That’s a plus for backyard gardeners, because it means Robada bears fruit without other apricot trees nearby as pollen sources.

ARS scientists spent more than a decade developing and testing Robada. It resulted from four consecutive hybridizations of different sets of parent trees. Those crosses were followed by eight years of orchard observation by Fresno-based ARS researchers Craig A. Ledbetter and David W. Ramming.

ARS has patented Robada and is issuing licenses allowing treefruit nurseries to grow and sell the trees. Three companies now have licenses: Agri Sun Nursery, LLC, Selma, Calif.; Bright's Nursery, Inc., Le Grand, Calif.; and GIE Star Fruits, Mondragon, France.

Scientific contact: Craig A. Ledbetter, ARS Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory, Fresno, Calif., phone (209) 453-3064, fax (209) 453-3088,