The apricot is a stone fruit, as is the apple, pear and peach. This sweet, slightly tangy fruit can be eaten fresh, dried, canned and may even be baked into pies and tarts. A ripe, ready-to-eat apricot will be yellow or orange and firm but not hard. This popular fruit is grown in over 60 countries including the United States. They are grown commercially in the U.S. in Utah, California and Washington.
Apricot trees can reach up to 45 feet in height but most cultivators keep their apricot trees 12 feet tall and under. The leaves are dark green with a waxy appearance. The apricot tree's flowers grow in white clusters from inside the leaf axils.
The apricot tree is native to the Great Wall area of China near Russia. Apricot trees have been cultivated in Asia for at least 3,000 years. Until the 19th century, apricots were grown primarily from seeds. Apricot cultivation in the United States is restricted to areas of California in which frost is not a threat.
There are a few varieties of apricots available. Blenheim apricots are the most common variety of this fruit. Sweet-pit and goldcot apricots stand apart due to their ability to withstand colder climates. The "gold kist" variety ripen much earlier (about four weeks) than Blenheim. Golden amber apricots are yellow, firm and slightly acidic.
Apricots are yellow to orange with a red blush. They contain a smooth pit, inside of which is a single seed. Apricots require three to six months to fully develop and ripen. They enhance diets with vitamins 'A' and 'C' as well as thiamin, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin and niacin. This fruit is often sold dried and packaged as well as canned.
Apricot trees are often attacked by an insects known as the peach tree borer. These insects lay eggs at the base of fruit trees. The larvae bore into the base of the tree at ground level. Protect trees from the peach tree borer by applying commercial insecticides to the base.
Apricot trees are susceptible to a type of blight known as "shot-hole," named for the brown speck it leaves on the fruit. These spots do not ruin the fruit but they damage its appearance and commercial value. Application of certain fungicides has proven effective at restoring a tree damaged by blight.