The apricot tree or apricot is a tree native to Central Asia, probably from the north of the Tien Shan mountains, north of China. Currently there are natural forests of apricot trees from North Korea to Mongolia, northern China and Manchuria, between 1200 m and 2200 m altitude and it is believed that the Greeks were the ones who brought it to Europe around the year 400 BC
Currently, Turkey is the largest producer of apricots by far (about 400,000 tons per year), but it is closely followed by countries such as Iran (about 250,000 tons per year) and Uzbekistan. In Spain , regions such as Valencia, Murcia or Albacete stand out for their apricot production, the most representative varieties being the following: bulida, canino, moniquí, Nancy and paviot.
The name of apricot comes from Arabic, which in turn created it from the Latin word praecox (‘precocious’) that refers to its early ripening compared to the peach. In China, the apricot is closely linked to traditional medicine, in which many medicines are used as a basic component.
The apricot tree is a tree that does not reach great heights but usually stays between 3-10 meters maximum. It is a deciduous tree whose branches turn reddish in its early stages and become twisted in its adult stage. which springs up very quickly. It likes permeable soils. It needs a temperate climate. The flowers withstand light frosts and the wood very intense cold, which never occurs in a Mediterranean climate. In February or March the flowers open, which can be white or pink. When the leaves are born they are screwed and once extended they have a heart-shaped limb and a long petiole. Like most fruit trees, only 20% of the flowers become fruits.
It is a tree that resists periods of drought very well and, even if it is well rooted, it does not need watering unless it is during its first year of life.
Despite being a fruit tree that needs cold hours to develop , it is essential that it is not affected by late winter frosts or the last frosts of spring. It is more typical of warm and sunny climates and the best terrain for its planting and development is a deep alkaline soil with good drainage. In this way, the apricot tree will not need additional special fertilizer.
Apricot tree flowers and fruit
The deciduous leaves of the apricot or apricot tree are quite long, reaching up to 10 cm in length and 3.5-8 cm in width. They are solitary flowers or very small groups (between 2 and 6).
The fruit is small or medium and usually does not measure more than 3-6 cm. It is yellow or orange in color (depending on the variety) and its flavor is more or less sweet, although those sold in the market increasingly have a less sweet and more artificial flavor.
An oil useful in cosmetics can be extracted from the bone. It is one of the earliest fruits: they ripen from May, although there are late varieties that do so in July. The apricot tree is a tree resistant to drought and most diseases, although it does not support long-standing flooded water . It is cultivated mainly in irrigated land although it is also done in dry land if it lacks water it makes the fruits small, although the taste and smell can be excellent in these conditions. Large productions and large sizes only occur when it is grown under irrigation.
There are varieties of apricot with bitter and toxic pits that contain hydrocyanic acid, like those of peaches, and there are those that make them sweet and edible, as are usually the varieties originating in Central Asia and the Mediterranean basin. In fact, there are areas of Central Asia where the production of apricots to consume the seed is higher than that of the fruit.
The fruit of the apricot is consumed as food, the bones to obtain apricot oil that has several uses, generally cosmetic. The ground bones are used to clean jet aircraft engines.
Plagues and diseases
Like all trees, the apricot tree is also exposed to pests and diseases . The fungi that affect the apricot tree are mainly Corina, moniliosis, powdery mildew (Podosphaera oxyacanthae), lead poisoning (Stereum purpureum), fusicoccum and root wilt caused by Armillaria mellea and Rosellinia necatrix.
Regarding insects , the most important are the Mediterranean fly (Ceratitis capitata), the oriental cydia (Cydia molesta), the Anarsia (Anarsia liniatella), the red trunk weevil (Cossus cossus), the almond tree weevil (Scolytus amygdali ), the white mealybug (Diaspis pentagona), other species of the Diaspididae family and the aspidiotus (Quadraspidiotus perniciosus).
The bacteria include the bacterial tumor Agrobacterium tumefaciens, the Pseudomonas syringae and the pathovar and the bacterial canker of the dupràcies (Xantomonas campestris). Viruses, the sharka virus causes considerable damage.
Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.