[nafex] Tom the Apricot

Greg Jordan mgjordan at concentric.net
Sat Dec 9 11:26:59 EST 2000

Does anyone on this list have experience with growing either Tomcot or Puget
Gold in the Denver Colorado area?   I’ve had a Wilson for 20 years and only
gotten 2 crops over 6 to 12 fruit.   The problem being early bloom and late
frosts.   I’m looking for varieties that are more reliable.
Greg Jordan

Don Yellman wrote:

> Chris:
>     Your memory serves you well.  I did wax on about the virtues of the
> Tomcot --- must have been about last Spring.  I cannot explain why an
> apricot released by Wash. State Univ., and recommended for Western
> Washington State, does well here in N. Virginia, but there are so many
> things I can't explain.  I really wanted to grow apricots (against the
> advice of Diane Relf of Virginia Tech. Extension, who says apricots
> shouldn't be tried in Virginia), and had tried at least 8 varieties
> before I found Tomcot in the Mellinger Catalog.  Here's what I like
> about it:
> 1.  It blooms prolifically, beginning here in the third week of March,
> and the blooms work their way up the tree over about a 3-week period.
> When we get the inevitable late freeze, usually in the 2nd week of
> April, there are still buds opening on the higher branches.  Even with a
> heavy late frost, my 2 trees will set a decent crop, and in years when
> the freeze passes us by the trees will be covered with little apricots.
> Wherever it sets fruit, it requires extensive thinning or the fruit will
> be small.  Well thinned, to at least 4" inches apart, size is excellent.
> 2.  Wood of the tree seems to be stronger, more flexible, and far less
> prone to gummosis (I call it that for lack of a more scientific term)
> than the other varieties I tried.  It is a vigorous grower, and requires
> extensive top pruning to keep it down to where you can thin and spray
> the tree.  All the other varieties I tried had extensive oozing gummy
> spots, but so far the Tomcots, now 7 and 9 years old, have none.  It has
> a good, spreading growth habit.  This year, I pruned the tree down right
> after harvest, and it responded with quite a bit of twiggy growth that
> should ensure even more blossoms for next spring.
> 3.  The Tomcot is extremely early.  All of the fruit is down by June 30,
> just a week or so after we have picked the last cherries, and well
> before any of the peaches.  Perhaps as a result of their earliness,
> Tomcots suffer almost no brown rot, even without fungicide application.
> Equally important, they show no cracking at all, which took nearly all
> the fruit of later varieties like Wilson, Tilton, Earliorange and
> Hungarian Rose.  Once the fruit cracks, the game is over.  Because the
> Tomcot ripens in its own time niche, we can focus on it better for
> processing, and we freeze dozens of quarts with very little trouble.
> It's the best frozen fruit we have, and terrific for pies and drying.
> Apricots have the curious property of developing some tartness and
> better flavor with a little cooking.
> 4.  Some of the fruit may develop russeting which may be fungal or
> bacterial in origin.  I just don't know.  It seems to occur particularly
> where fruit is close together, and is minimized by thinning.  The
> russeting makes the skin somewhat tough, although the fruit is still
> useable.  All the varieties I grew did this, and it may be that it could
> be eliminated by use of a fungicide like Captan.  I do use Imidan on the
> small, developing fruits to discourage plum curculio, but discontinue
> use by early June.
> 5.  After I posted my previous piece on the Tomcot, I heard from Richard
> Ossolinski who grows a related variety, Puget Gold, up in Maine.
> Richard sent an electronic photo of a heavily laden branch of his tree
> which was the most beautiful apricot photo I have seen.  (I think
> Richard may be a good photographer as well as fruit grower.) So I sent
> for a Puget Gold from his source, Burnt Ridge Nursery in Onalaska, WA,
> and put it in this past spring.  As Richard predicted, it has quite a
> different growth habit than the Tomcot (he describes his tree as
> curiously shaped), with much less vigor.  But the fruit is beautiful,
> and I am going to nurse the tree along.  The Puget Golds from Burnt
> Ridge are on St. Julian, which I believe is a dwarfing rootstock, so
> this may account for the difference in vigor and habit.  Mellinger's
> does not specify rootstock, and I don't know what stock is under my
> Tomcots ---  possibly one of the common stocks used for peaches.
> 6.  It wouldn't seem that your zone 6 PA climate would be all that much
> different than mine --- perhaps 10 degrees colder for winter minimums,
> and your bloom could come somewhat later.  If  it is later, so much the
> better.  If I could get my Tomcots to bloom in mid-April, I could grow
> apricots commercially.
> Best Rgds, Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

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