Many fruit trees go through a form of fruit drop, and apricot trees are no exception. It can be tough to wait until spring for apricot trees to fruit, only to find that most of them fell off. So, why does this happen and how can you prevent it?
Apricot trees drop fruit as a survival measure to maintain energy and water for the rest of the tree. Most fruit trees produce an overabundance of blossoms and fruit and naturally shed them around June. This phenomenon is often called “June Drop”.
So, while this process is a natural occurrence, why do apricot trees need to do this in the first place, and how can we maximize our fruit yields?
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What Causes Apricots to Fall Off of Trees?
Apricot trees shed blossoms and fruit when it feels it has produced too many to sustain. The tree is either too weighed down by the fruit, or it feels it doesn’t have enough sugar (energy) or water to survive the rest of the year. However, if the apricot fruits develop spots, then a disease could be the cause.
It can be hard to believe that trees are intelligent, but their response to dropping fruit to survive is pretty clever.
Not only do they know their branches might be too heavy with fruit (to the point of breaking) or that there aren’t enough resources to go around, but they also drop fruit to avoid the fungus and pests living on the ground.
Since many pests live in the weeds on the ground, if the apricot branches dip too low, they can pick some of them up. If this happens, the apricot tree could lose most or all of its fruit. This is another reason why dropping fruit is in the best interest of the apricot tree.
Another reason why apricots could fall off of the tree is due to a nutrient deficiency. While it can be hard to tell what nutrients your apricot tree could be lacking, applying a complete fruit tree fertilizer or layer of compost will provide a steady supply of vital nutrients.
To help restore vital nutrients to your apricot tree’s soil, check out these fruit tree fertilizers on Amazon.
How Do You Prevent Premature Apricots From Dropping?
You can help your apricot tree prevent fruits from dropping by either thinning the branches, developing fruit, or blossoms. The goal is to break up some of the growing clusters so that the tree isn’t overburdened by the weight or drain of nutrients. Try to limit the pruning to just several branches.
If the apricot tree is affected by nutrient deficiency (often shown by yellowing and dropping leaves or fruit), applying compost or organic fruit fertilizer 1-2 times per year will help maintain essential nutrients in the soil.
For any diseases, the infected branches should be pruned and removed. Limit any weeds or vegetation around the tree to prevent the spreading of disease or harmful insects. Mulching works well for this. If you believe there is a fungal disease (you can often tell by brown or green spots on the fruit ) then applying a copper-based fungicide or neem oil could help.
If you notice that many of your apricot blossoms are not developing into fruit, then the likely problem is either a nutrient deficiency or more likely, a lack of pollinators. Consider planting pollinators friendly plants and flowers, or manually pollinating blossoms using a toothbrush or paintbrush.
As mentioned, one of the most important steps to preventing fruit drop on apricot trees is proper pruning. With some practice, you could help a few branches bear more fruit than the entire tree could before.
If you’d like a visual on how to best prune apricot trees, check out this video Backyard Fruit.
Apricot trees mostly drop fruit during an event called “June Drop”, where the tree sheds excess fruit and blossoms to preserve water and resources. This is a normal response and many fruit trees do the same, often dropping the majority of their fruit.
While you won’t be able to save all of the fruit, by effectively pruning some of the fruit or blossoms to allow others to develop fully can be your best bet. Remember to supplement the soil with fertilizer or compost 1-2 times a year so the apricot tree has what it needs to fruit the following years.
If you’re interested in learning how to grow apricots from a stone, check out my 5 step guide.