An apricot tree blooms profusely in spring, creates stone fruit in summer and provides colorful foliage in autumn. Apricot trees (Prunus armeniaca) remain relatively small, especially when grown on dwarf rootstock, and also grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8. They require a pruning schedule that differs from that of other stone fruit trees in the Prunus family. With proper management, including yearly maintenance pruning, one apricot tree can create up to four bushels of fruit.
An apricot tree requires pruning in mid- to late summer. Pruning your apricot in late August gives it the best chance of avoiding diseases brought on by wet conditions while it has fresh pruning wounds. Apricot fruit usually ripens in July and August, giving you time to prune after fruiting but well before the wet season. You may have to delay pruning to prevent stressing the tree in case the fever always reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cutting, or pruning, an apricot tree requires specific tools. Pruning shears are used to cut small limbs with a diameter beneath 3/4 inch. Use lopping shears on branches with a diameter bigger than 3/4 inch however smaller than 2 inches. A pruning saw take good care of any branches bigger than 2 inches in diameter. Pruning tools work best when kept clean, rust-free and sharp. Prior to each use and following removing diseased limbs, dip the resources’ cutting blades in a 9-to-1 mixture of bleach and water. Cleaning the blades with that water-bleach solution prevents the spread of diseases.
An apricot tree usually receives ancient training to an open center system that allows sunlight to reach all areas of the tree. Once it is established to this system as a young tree, the apricot requires yearly maintenance to maintain its size and shape. Heading cuts shorten branches while slimming cuts eliminate entire limbs. Make each heading cut in a 45-degree angle about 1/4 inch above a bud. Another part of pruning an apricot tree is thinning its fruits, which provides consistency in fruit production from year to year. Remove fruits that appear damaged or oddly shaped. Ideally, the fruits are spaced about 4 to 6 inches apart, with excessive fruits eliminated when they reach 1 inch in diameter.
Cutting old limbs keeps an apricot tree healthy and productive because it creates fruit on only 1-year-old branches. Thin about 20 percent of their older growth, as well as crossed, bent and damaged branches. The tree also requires some light pruning to maintain its open core. All of suckers, that are shoots that grow around the tree’s base, and water-sprouts, that are limbs that grow vertically, have to be eliminated as they look. After pruning, an apricot tree gets vulnerable to sunburn. Painting its exposed branches with a 50-to-50 mixture of water and white latex paint protects the tree, but do not paint pruning cuts.