I love apricots! My favorite way to eat them is as apricot pineapple jam. The sweet apricot blends beautifully with the tangy pineapple, especially on a piece of homemade bread.
Unfortunately, apricots aren’t the easiest tree to grow in our region. They often bloom very early in the spring and get hit by frost which kills the flower. Take heart though, with careful variety selection, you can assure yourself of a good harvest most years.
The key to selecting the right variety is to look for ones that bloom later than other apricots. Normally, apricots bloom at the end of April. Late-blooming varieties bloom closer to mid-May, a timeframe that can avoid the last of the killing frosts. Another characteristic to watch for is whether the variety is self-fertile or needs another apricot variety nearby to cross pollinate with. Here are a few late blooming varieties to look for. All are hardy to USDA Zone 4 and all are late bloomers.
Canadian White Blenheim, as its name indicates, was developed in Canada, which is much colder than Spokane with later springs. This tree is partially self-pollinating, so it needs to be planted with another late blooming variety for a heavy crop. Any of the varieties listed below will work. The challenge is whether you have room for two trees in your garden. If fully pollinated, the tree bears a heavy crop in late summer and has gold orange skin around firm, sweet white flesh. The fruit can be eaten fresh, canned, dried or made into jam.
Chinese or Mormon apricot is self-pollinating and produces heavy crop in midsummer. The fruit is small to medium in size with a red blush over orange color. The fruit’s orange flesh is firm and juicy with a sweet mild flavor. A bonus is that the pits are edible and can be eaten like almonds.
Goldcot was developed in Michigan, another place known for its cold winters. It is self-pollinating, producing a heavy crop at midsummer. The fruit is medium to large and has a golden yellow skin with red speckles. The flesh is orange, firm and juicy.
Moorpark was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson. It is self-pollinating and produces a heavy, midsummer crop. The fruit has a deep, tangy-sweet flavor that makes it perfect for any use. Moorpark tends to grow into a smaller tree which makes it perfect for smaller spaces.
Tilton is another old variety. It is self-pollinating and produces a heavy crop in late summer. The fruit is large and heart-shaped with golden skin with a red blush. The golden flesh is firm, and some say it is one of the best tasting apricots available.
These are all good varieties for our region, but the challenge will be finding them locally available. Tilton and Moorpark will probably be easier to find than the others at our local nurseries. Otherwise, you will have to hunt for them online. In either case, order or start looking by mid-March when the supply is the best.