When you plant a young apricot tree in your yard, you may wonder how long you will need to wait before it bears fruit. A definitive answer for this question is difficult to give, as there are many variables, including the apricot variety, the age and health of the tree, and your weather conditions. Let’s dive in and discover more about how long it takes for an apricot tree to bear fruit.
What You'll Learn Today
- How Long Does It Take For An Apricot Tree To Bear Fruit?
- When Does an Apricot Tree Bloom?
- Do Apricots Fruit Every Year?
- Why My Apricot Tree Doesn’t Produce?
- How Do You Get Apricot Trees To Fruit?
- Do You Need Two Apricot Trees To Produce Fruit?
How Long Does It Take For An Apricot Tree To Bear Fruit?
Apricots are a delicious summertime fruit. They produce rounded, smooth, soft-skinned apricots with golden yellow to orange skin often blushed with deep orangey-red tones where it has been kissed by the sun.
Delicious picked straight from the tree, they can also be used for baking, canning, and drying.
Most apricot trees don’t require a second tree to cross-pollinate them as they are self-fertile. There are, however, a few exceptions, and more fruit will always be produced by trees that benefit from cross-pollination.
For your tree to produce any apricots several things are required:
- For the majority of varieties, it must be at least three years old
- There needs to be enough insects active in the area to pollinate it
- If the blossom is damaged by frost, rain, or wind, there will be no fruit
- The tree must receive sufficient winter chill hours – these are the number of hours when temperatures average between 32°F and 45°F over the winter
- Enough, but not too much, water and nutrients must be available to the tree
Some varieties of apricot tree blossom in very early spring, while others bloom later. Usually, you will expect to harvest fruits between June and August, depending on tree variety and location.
A young tree will start to produce fruit when it is three to four years old, but it can take considerably longer before you get a good yield, on average, five to seven years.
Maximum yields will usually be enjoyed when the tree is between seven and ten years of age, and it will generally continue to fruit until it is between 20 and 25 years old.
Should a young tree start to fruit, it is better to remove them and allow the roots to grow stronger.
When Does an Apricot Tree Bloom?
Depending on the variety of tree, you can expect it to blossom in February or March.
For the blossom to be fertilized by insects, it needs to be on the tree long enough. Some early blooming varieties do poorly in colder climates because there aren’t sufficient insect pollinators around to do the job.
Once the blossom is pollinated, it takes around 100 to 120 days before the apricots are ripe enough to be harvested in June, July, or August.
In this video, you can see when apricot trees typically start fruiting and some reasons why they may not bear any fruit:
Do Apricots Fruit Every Year?
It’s usual for apricot trees not to fruit every year. Some only fruit on alternate years, while others are on a three-year cycle.
Other than the natural rhythms of the tree, other factors that affect fruit production are often weather-related. Problems can include:
- Insufficient cold hours over winter
- Frost, rain, or wind destroying blossom
- Too few pollinating insects
- Not sufficient wood of fruit-bearing age
We will look at these and more reasons why your tree may not be fruiting below.
Why My Apricot Tree Doesn’t Produce?
There are a variety of reasons why an apricot tree might not be producing any fruit. Some of these are easy to solve, while others can be a little more tricky.
Are you getting plenty of blossom on your apricot tree in the early springtime? There are several reasons why you may not be, this can include:
- The age of your tree – young trees under three years old are usually too busy growing and establishing a strong root system, so they won’t give fruit. There are a few exceptions to this however such as the Wenatchee apricot tree which can produce some fruit in its first year.
- Sickness – if your tree is sick or diseased, then it may be under too much stress for the tree to produce blossom.
- Overfertilization – giving your fruit tree a little fertilizer to help it along in early spring can be beneficial, but give it too much, and rather than producing lots of beautiful blossoms, it will grow a massive amount of foliage instead.
- Weather – it could be that your tree did start producing blossom, but then a hard frost, heavy rain, or strong wind destroyed them. If you live in a cold area prone to late frosts, choose a late-blooming or frost-resistant variety.
- Warmth – just as bad weather can be a problem, not having a cold enough one can be too. Apricot trees require a certain period of cold to start their reproductive cycle.
- Pruning – apricots only produced blossom and fruit on wood of a particular age, usually two-year-old wood depending on the variety. If you pruned away all of that wood, there won’t be any to grow fruit.
So you’ve got plenty of blossoms, but still no fruit. What went wrong? The problem here is probably due to a pollination issue. Either your blossom was damaged by bad weather, or there weren’t enough active insects to pollinate it.
Although most varieties of apricot are “self-pollinating” meaning they don’t require a second variety of apricot tree growing close by to cross-pollinate them, this can still be very advantageous. Having another tree (or several) helps to ensure successful pollination and produces a higher yield of fruit.
If you suspect that the problem is down to insufficient pollinating insects, then you can hand pollinate your tree using a soft-bristled brush, like a makeup brush or artist’s brush. More information on this can be seen below in “How to Hand Pollinate”.
When you see the flowers loaded with pollen, go from one to another using the brush to pick up the pollen and spread it to another.
Sometimes, even if the blossom is pollinated and fruit begins to grow, it quickly falls off, so why is this?
- Too many fruits – often apricot trees produce an overabundance of flowers, and on good years when most of them are successfully pollinated, too many fruits are produced. This stresses the tree and can cause it to shed the young apricots – often twice, and may leave you with only a few remaining.
To help prevent this, you can pinch out excess fruits by hand. It can be time-consuming but is well worth the effort as the remaining fruit will grow larger and juicier than if you leave too many.
- Disease – is another cause of fruit drop. If you see the fruit covered in tiny olive-green spots that grow in size as the fruit does, the apricots will often fall from the tree before fully ripe or crack open and rot.
A broad-spectrum fungicide can kill the organism responsible if applied in the spring when buds set. Apply again after harvest to help prevent future problems and clear the area around the tree’s base during fruit ripening.
Depending on the variety of apricot tree you have, during a mild winter when temperatures don’t drop low enough for long enough, your tree won’t produce fruit.
With our climate warming and winters often becoming milder, this can be an increasing problem. The only real solution is choosing varieties requiring fewer chill hours to successfully produce fruit.
It’s perfectly normal for apricot trees not to produce fruit every year. In fact, many varieties are alternate bearing, meaning they only fruit every other year, or sometimes every three years.
Do you know how old your fruit tree is? If you’ve inherited one when moving home for example, then a possible reason why your apricot tree doesn’t produce fruit could be to do with old age.
These trees can live to be over 100 years old but only produce fruit for the first 20 to 25 years of their lives. After this time, they become more ornamental.
How Do You Get Apricot Trees To Fruit?
Sadly our natural insect pollinators are being destroyed by the use of commercial pesticides, climate change, and other factors we don’t fully understand. This means sometimes there just aren’t’ sufficient numbers of insects around to pollinate your apricot blossom.
Poor weather conditions can also affect the ability of pollinating insects to work, and it can destroy blossom before pollination occurs.
You can do the same job as pollinating insects by pollinating the tree yourself using a soft bristle brush, such as a makeup brush, and taking pollen from one blossom and spreading it to another. This is even better if you have more than one tree and can cross-pollinate the blossoms.
If you fear frost or other adverse weather conditions may knock off your blossom, you can try protecting your tree by applying a fleece. This is available from good garden stores or online. Don’t forget to remove it afterward to allow access by insects!
How to Hand Pollinate
- When the blossom is in full bloom, check to make sure you can see the anthers, which resemble tiny hairlike structures at the center of each flower. These open to release pollen grains.
- On a sunny day during the morning, when there is no rain forecast, use a soft makeup or artist’s brush to collect pollen from the flowers – you will be able to see the fine pollen dust on the brush.
- Once you have plenty of pollen, use the brush to deposit the pollen onto the stigmas of flowers on the same or preferably a different apricot tree. The Stigma is the tall, tiny tube located at the very center of each flower.
- Continue the process, so you are pollinating as many flowers as possible. You may need to use a ladder to reach higher blossoms. If you do, use it carefully, with someone holding it steady at the bottom.
Do You Need Two Apricot Trees To Produce Fruit?
No, you don’t need two apricot trees to produce fruit. Most varieties of apricot tree are “self-fruiting,” which means they can pollinate themselves. However, it is always better to have two different types of apricot tree so that cross-pollination can occur, producing higher fruit yields.
Unlike some other fruit trees, you don’t have male and female trees. The flowers of apricot trees carry both the male and female reproductive parts.
If you plant a young apricot tree in your yard, it can be frustrating waiting for it to mature and bear fruit. However, remember that in the few years that it is growing, it’s becoming stronger and sending down deep roots so it can live for many years.
Once your tree is mature enough, it can provide you with delicious apricots for over 20 years, so it is well worth the wait.
If you have a mature apricot tree that is not fruiting, remember that many varieties only fruit every two to three years.
For trees that never seem to fruit, however long you wait, check things like chill hours, pruning practices, and pollination.
To learn more about apricot trees and a vast range of other related topics, discover further articles on our website.