The Harcot Apricot Tree, Prunus armeniaca, is a cold-hardy, small-to-medium sized apricot tree. They produce an abundance of pink flowers in the spring, which are followed by medium-sized orange fruit in mid-summer. The flesh is juicy and sweet, with a rich flavor.
The Harcot Apricot tree is recommended for colder areas due to its frost-hardy late bloom. If you’re considering growing one of these lovely fruit trees, here’s everything you’ll need to know about the Harcot variety of apricot tree.
History of the Harcot Apricot Tree
The apricot fruit actually has its origin in China, where it traveled with the merchants along the Great Silk Road. Before long, the fruit had made its way to Armenia where it received its name — the Armenian Plum.
It wasn’t until the early 1700s that the fruit made its way to America. While it managed a strong foothold in Virginia as a Thanksgiving ingredient, it took almost a century for it to gain popularity across North America. This was really no fault of the fruit’s — it was more down to the fact that there simply weren’t many settlers traveling across the country at that time.
Eventually though, as former Europeans moved across the country, bringing their love of apricots with them, the fruit began to become a staple food for nearly everyone. The apricot gained traction quickly due to its delicious and easy-to-process fruit, as well as the ease with which it grew in certain parts of the country.
Apricots are well known by gardeners, farmers, and orchard keepers to have subtle variations in flavor depending on the breed of apricot tree. We’ve seen many different breeds develop over time as a result of small changes in the environment and some creative breeding. The result is fruit that can be perfect in a variety of dishes and climates.
The Harcot Apricot Tree was introduced in 1977. Developed in Canada, this new tree showed resistance to the cold weather that was so hard on other varieties of apricot tree. It also proved to be resistant to many of the afflictions that plagued the other varieties, such as brown rot, and perennial canker.
Harcot Apricot Tree Characteristics
While most apricot trees fruit in the spring, the Harcot variety is a bit of a late bloomer, fruiting in mid-summer. Like all apricots, the fruit must be picked at the right time in order to ensure the quality of both taste and texture. A uniform orange color with a red blush and a consistent firmness on these medium-sized fruits are both good indications that they’re ripe and can safely be picked.
The Harcot Apricot will begin fruiting at around 2 years, but a substantial harvest won’t be possible until between 3 and 5 years.
The Harcot has juicy, freestone flesh with a rich flavor. It also has a chill time of around 700 hours in the winter for their buds to open in the spring. Overall the Harcot Apricot is very productive, self-fruitful, and is resistant to many of the common issues apricot trees face such as brown rot and perennial canker. This tree forms a rounded crown with upward-reaching branches.
Many apricot types will grow will in zones 5 through 8 and the Harcot variety is no exception. While most apricot varieties do best on the warmer end of these zones, the Harcot is actually recommended for colder climates due to its frost-hardy late bloom.
That said, they are still frost sensitive, and recommended for Mediterranean climates.
Size and Spacing
One of the larger trees, the Harcot Apricot tree typically grows between 15 and 25 feet tall and wide. As a result, it’s recommended that you plant it at least 8 to 10 feet away from patios, sewer lines, and water pipes. Thinning is advisable in most cases, as they canopy can be rather thick.
Like all apricot trees, Harcot Apricots are self-fruitful, meaning they can be pollinated by their own flowers. That said, you may still want to plant some pollinating partners to help increase the size of your crop.
Self-pollinating trees are generally easier to grow and care for in large numbers, making them a good choice for not only gardeners, but farmers and orchard keepers as well.
Harcot Apricot Tree Care
The Harcot Apricot tree will thrive best in full sun and rich, fertile, moist, and well-drained soil.
Harcot Apricots do well in dry climates. While they do prefer regular irrigation, the excess water must be able to drain away to prevent the risk of root rot. Water carefully.
Like all apricot trees, the Harcot variety requires regular pruning to thrive and produce bountiful harvests. Be sure to thin out the young fruit to allow for proper air circulation and help prevent diseases. Additionally, make sure you’re looking after the basic health of the tree by trimming back and dead, diseased, or crossing branches.
Common Uses For Harcot Apricots
Flavor: Harcot Apricots have a velvety skin and juicy orange flesh with a rich, sweet flavor. Some apricot varieties lean more toward the tart side, so it’s important to sample several varieties at first, so you know what you’re looking for in terms of taste.
Cooking: Apricots are a staple of mid-autumn cooking for many families. A common way of cooking apricots is to grill them and then pair them with something sweet, such as ice cream.
Eating Raw: Like all apricots, Harcots are wonderful straight off of the branch, but they can also be enjoyed as part of a fruit salad, in a smoothie, or on oatmeal.
Canning, Freezing, and Drying: All varieties of apricots do well canned and frozen for later use. Due to their high sugar content, apricots are also great for drying. Harcot Apricots are no exception to this rule. They even retain their rich flavor, which you may want to call attention to by keeping them separate from other apricot varieties.
Health Benefits of Apricots
Apricots have a variety of health benefits. For example:
- High in vitamins and minerals
- High in nutrients for the calories
- High in antioxidants
- High in potassium
- May help protect your liver
- May boost skin health
- May promote eye health
- May promote gut health
- Very hydrating
Where to Buy Harcot Apricots?
Your local farmer’s market should probably be the first place you check if you’re looking for Harcot Apricots. If you can’t find any there, then your next best option may be small online sellers, or the websites of farmers and orchard keepers.
The Harcot Apricot tree is a more unique variety of apricot tree as it is much more tolerant of the cold than the standard apricot tree. It is also resistant to many of the issues that common face apricot trees, such as brown rot, bacterial spot, and perennial canker. A late-bloomer, the Harcot variety is adorned with pink flowers in the spring and fruits in mid-summer, with medium-sized orange fruit with a red blush. The fruit is juicy, with a sweet and rich flavor, perfect for drying, canning, cooking, or eating raw off the tree.
These trees grow very large and robust and will require a lot of initial pruning and care in order to thrive. Apricot trees do best when pruned into a V shape. Basic tree care also applies here — be sure to cut any dead, diseased, or crossing branches and thin the tree to promote proper air circulation. This will also help guard against disease.
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