Posted on Dec 3, 2023 at 4:03 pm by James T
The apricot tree is a fruit tree appreciated for its delicious sun-soaked fruits. Although it can be planted in almost all regions of France, it remains a Mediterranean tree that requires some precautions when planted in the northern half of the country where the risk of frost is higher.
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Vulnerability of the apricot tree to frost
The apricot tree needs cold periods in winter like many plants: between 400 to 600 hours below 7.2°C. Indeed, the cold triggers flowering; moreover, the apricot tree can withstand temperatures as low as -20°C or even -25°C. However, it is the flowers and young fruits that will suffer from spring frosts.
Being one of the first fruit species to bloom – between mid-February and March depending on the varieties – the buds and already open flowers can be damaged or even completely destroyed by late morning frosts.
Flowers and their fruiting
- The apricot flower becomes vulnerable as soon as its calyx is visible and can be destroyed at -4°C.
- When the stamens emerge, the temperature should not drop below -3°C.
- Petal drop occurs at a minimum temperature of 0.8°C.
- As for young fruits or those in the process of setting, they cannot withstand temperatures below -0.5°C.
The damage caused to the fruits may not be immediately visible on the outside, but their interior will be marked with black spots and a “frost ring” will gradually form on their skin.
Protecting the apricot tree from frost: some practical advice
Here are some tips to help your apricot tree better withstand frost:
- Choose a sunny and sheltered location: The apricot tree appreciates warm and sheltered exposures from cold winds. A good location will also promote later flowering, reducing the risk of harmful morning frosts.
- Mist the tree when frost threatens: When temperatures drop below 0°C in spring, mist the entire tree with a fine spray. The evaporating water will release heat and protect the buds and flowers from frost.
- Use winter protection fabric: In case of severe frosts, consider covering your apricot tree with winter protection fabric, which will provide additional protection to the buds and flowers. Remember to remove this fabric when temperatures rise during the day to avoid excessive condensation under the fabric. There are other effective methods to protect your garden plants from frost without using winter protection fabric.
- Plant stakes around the tree: Install stakes around the apricot tree to secure a tarp or protective fabric in case of spring frosts.
The apricot tree is vulnerable to spring frosts, especially its flowers and young fruits. To prevent your harvest from being destroyed year after year, take precautions such as choosing a sunny and sheltered location, misting the tree when it freezes, using winter protection fabric, or planting stakes around the tree to attach a protective cover.
With these tips, you should be able to enjoy delicious apricots despite the unpredictable weather conditions.