The Katy Apricot Tree, Prunus armeniaca ‘Katy‘, is an early-ripening variety of apricot tree that is well-suited to warmer climates and popular with gardeners all throughout the south.
The fruit generally medium-sized, has a sweet flavor, and is great for making preserves and jams as well as for eating straight off the branch.
The Katy Apricot tree has a harvest date of late May to early June, which means that you could be eating your own homegrown apricots while your neighbors are still waiting for their trees to fruit! Today we’ll be talking about the ultimate early riser — the Katy Apricot tree.
History of the Apricot Tree
Katy Apricot was introduced back in 1978, but apricot trees have been around for much longer! The apricot was cultivated in Central Asia and China as far back as 2000 BC.
The fruit traveled with the country’s traders as they navigated the Great Silk Road. In fact, it was most likely the Chinese merchants who first introduced the fruit to the Persians.
From there, the fruit slowly spread across the populated world, and its popularity grew until it finally landed in America in the 1700s. It got a good foothold in Virginia, but still took nearly a century to gain widespread use. This was really through no fault of the fruit as the lack of settlers at the time made it difficult for it to spread much farther.
Eventually though, former Europeans began to move across the country, bringing their love of apricots with them, and before long it became the wide-spread and easily available fruit that it is today.
Apricots are well known to have subtle variations in flavor depending on the variety of tree the fruit came from. As a result, we’ve seen several new breeds popping up in recent years. The Katy variety of apricot tree has been around since 1978, and boosts a very early harvest time.
Katy Apricot Characteristics
The Katy Apricot is a fast-growing tree with white flowers. Like all apricot trees, it fruits in the spring. The fruit must be picked at just the right time to ensure the quality of the texture and flavor.
Uniform golden color with orange overtones, large size, and consistent firmness are all good indications that the fruit is ripe and can be picked.
The Katy Apricot has one of the earliest harvest times of all apricot trees with a harvest time of late May to early June.
This is a highly productive tree with large, firm fruit which freezes and cans well, and is especially useful for drying due to its high sugar content. It is also considered an attractive tree, sporting white, fragrant flowers in the spring and maintaining lush green foliage all throughout the summer months.
While most apricot trees do well in growing zones 5 through 8, the Katy Apricot thrives best on the warmer side of growing zones 7 through 10. It does especially well in the south, where it is a very popular choice with gardeners of all stripes.
Size and Spacing
The tree’s mature height and mature spread are both 15-18 feet, meaning it should be planted with plenty of room to grow. Luckily, this tree is amenable to pruning, meaning you can easily clip it back to a more manageable size. Between six and ten feet is generally best for orchard use. Pruning the tree back not only helps protect it against diseases, but it also makes harvesting an easier task.
Like all fruit trees, the Katy Apricot tree is self-fruitful, but will do better with a cross-pollinator. The tree is also generally pollinator friendly! Self-pollinating trees are overall easy to care for in large numbers, making them a favorite of orchard farmers and others who are growing fruit to sell.
The self-pollinating and plentiful nature of the Katy Apricot helps to make accounting for and gathering enough fruit to turn a profit quite easy, which contributes to its popularity among gardeners and orchard farmers.
Like all apricots, this tree requires full sun to thrive.
Watering will depend on where you’re growing this tree. In the hotter portions of the planting zones, it’s best to water them two to three times a week. In the less extreme portions of the planting zones, this can be cut back to once a week.
Thinning is important to keep apricot trees healthy and allow for proper air circulation. It’s a good idea to thin out young fruits to give others room to grow to their full size. Fruit tend to fall from trees because they’ve produced more flowers than they actually need.
Basic tree care also applies here. Be sure to cut any dead, diseased, or crossing branches and prune your apricot trees into a V shape to help them thrive.
Common Uses For The Fruit
Flavor: Katy Apricots have a firm golden-yellow flesh and a mildly sweet taste when fully ripe. Different varieties of apricot will be more or less sweet, so it’s important to try a few to find the perfect balance.
Cooking: Apricots are often the star of the dish when it comes to early to mid-Autumn cooking. They can also be eaten with ice cream as an easy summer treat, and make an excellent apricot syrup.
Eating Raw: Katy Apricots are great for eating straight off the branch, but can also be enjoyed as part of a smoothie, fruit salad, or even in oatmeal.
Canning, Freezing, and Drying: All forms of apricots do very well when canned, frozen, or dried and the Katy Apricot is no exception. Cut and dry this fruit for a bit of spring all year round, or freeze them to make smoothies later on.
Health Benefits of Katy Apricots
Apricots have a range of health benefits, including:
- High in potassium
- A lot of nutrition for the calories
- May boost skin health
- May promote eye health
- May promote gut health
- May protect your liver
- Very hydrating
- High in antioxidants
Where To Buy a Katy Apricot Tree?
Nature Hills Nursery often stocks the Katy Apricot tree and many other varieties of apricot tree. If you’re looking to get started growing these lovely trees, be sure to check there.
Where to Buy The Fruit?
Your local farmer’s market should probably be your first stop if you’re looking to buy Katy Apricots. Other options include small online sellers, and farms or orchards near you. But apricots often taste better when they’re homegrown.
The Katy Apricot tree is a bit of a unique specimen since it will thrive in warmer regions than most apricot trees, and is one of the earliest ripening fruit trees available. These trees are hardy in winter and grow to be very large.
This means they’ll require significant pruning in order to be accessible for harvest. General tree pruning is a must in order to keep apricot trees healthy and thinning out young fruit not only helps the tree maintain proper air circulation and avoid disease, but it also allows the remaining fruit to grow to its full size.
Growing in warmer climates than many apricot trees may also leave the Katy Apricot tree more susceptible to diseases, so care should be taken to look after the tree correctly and quickly address any diseased or dead branches that may arise. Keep an eye on the clusters of fruit as they come in and arete them often to help keep them healthy.
In the end, the Katy Apricot is a great choice for gardeners, farmers, and orchard owners alike due to its early harvest time and high yield. If you’re looking for a good fruit tree to get started with, the Katy Apricot is right up your alley. This highly productive tree is a great introduction to the world of apricot trees.