[nafex] Tom the Apricot

Tom Olenio tolenio at sentex.net
Sat Dec 9 11:54:00 EST 2000


I have read of people defeating early bloom by bending the branches down before
bud swell in the spring.  This technique delays the growth of buds and will
delay bloom, giving you more time for frosts to pass.

I don't know if this will work with Tomcot or Puget, but have read about it
being used with apples.

Others can tell you moare about the technique.  There may also be bark inversion
techniques that may help, but I will leave that to others as well.


Greg Jordan wrote:

> 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
> >

Thomas Olenio
Ontario, Canada
Hardiness Zone 6a

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