Apricot trees are self-fruiting, which means that your apricot tree can produce fruit without the presence of another apricot tree near by. This makes them a popular choice for the home gardener. Apricot trees blossom in early spring, and they produce their fruit on 2-year or older wood. They are susceptible to attack by two pests, the fruittree leafroller, and the peach tree borer.
Apricot Tree Characteristics
Mature apricot trees can reach heights of 20 to 50 feet. They require full sun and soil that is moist and well-drained. Apricot trees should be planted in a frost-free area. If frost kills the blossoms, the tree will not produce fruit. Fertilizer should be applied along the drip line of the tree in early spring before growing begins. Harvest time is from June through August. The fruit of the apricot tree bruises easily and should be handled carefully.
The fruittree leafroller or Archips argyospila attacks ornamental trees as well as a variety of deciduous trees. According to the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Department, this insect also attacks fruit and nut trees such as almond, apple, apricot, caneberries, cherry, citrus, pear, plum, prune, quince and walnut. The life cycle of the fruittree leafroller consists of: egg, larva/caterpillar, pupa, and moth. It is during the larval stage that the damage to the apricot tree is done. Larvae feed on new leaves. The larvae create a hiding place by rolling up the leaves, and then tying them together with a silk-like thread. Larvae feed for approximately 30 days. In severe cases the tree can be defoliated. They also attack the fruit. Some young fruit may fall from the tree and some fruit may be scarred and deformed.
Fruittree leafrollers do have natural enemies, which keep their population in check such as the lacewing, and some beetles. Bacillus thuringiensis (available in a variety of insecticides) is effective when the leafroller is in its larval stage. The larvae must be 1/2 inch or smaller (caterpillars need to ingest the insecticide) in order for the bacillus thuringiensis to be effective.
Peach Tree Borer
The peach tree borer is also known as the peach crown borer. It is an extremely damaging pest of the stone fruit trees, including apricots, peaches, plums, and cherries. This pest makes deep gouges under the bark of the fruit tree. If there is a severe infestation of borers, they can weaken and in some instances kill the tree. The insect's life cycle spans an entire year. When in the larval stage, the peach tree borer enters the sapwood of the tree via a crack or wound in the bark. It then feeds on the trunk and roots of the tree just a few inches below the ground. Larvae feed until winter, hibernate, and then feed again.
Once the peach tree borer gets under the bark of the apricot tree, it is impossible to eradicate. The best means of control is to do preventative spraying. Insecticide should be applied during the egg or early larval stage. In most areas this is during mid-July to mid-August. Pounce, Ambush and Asana are used by commercial orchards. These insecticides may be available at your local garden supply store. Caution should be used when using any insecticide.