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Are apricots grown in Mississippi?

The apricot is believed to be a native of western China. Apricot cultivars grown in Russia are winter hardy and require moderate chilling for normal bud development. After a cold winter that has satisfied the chilling requirement of both species, apricot flowers bloom earlier than those of the peach. Therefore, apricots are more likely to be damaged by frost than peaches are. Following a relatively mild winter, more apricot flower buds abscise than those of peach.

This inherent characteristic to bloom early limits the area where the species can be grown commercially to places that are relatively free of late spring frosts. Apricots are also not grown where spring rains are prevalent because their flowers are very susceptible to infection by a fungus.

Apricot trees are propagated on Marianna 2624, peach, or apricot rootstock. Marianna 2624 rootstock is a hybrid plum stock that tolerates wet feet better than do peach and apricot seedlings. When the soil is deep and fertile, the trees will become relatively large and should be spaced 18-20 feet apart. Because of severe splitting, apricots should be trained to a modified central leader with adequate vertical distance between branches.

Commercial cultivars are self- and cross-fruitful except for Riland and Perfection, which are self-incompatible and require cross pollination. Spurs develop excess flower buds so that even when all long shoots have been removed, trees are usually thinned in the spring to obtain good fruit size.

Tree ripened apricots are among the most delicious fruits available; unfortunately, they are too soft to be shipped any distance. In order to be shipped by train or truck, fruits are harvested at a firm ripe stage before they develop their fine, rich flavor. Two new, early-ripening cultivars, Castlebright and Pinkerton, are firm-fleshed and highly acidic, and they develop a deep orange color, but they lack flavor. They are replacing Stuart and Derby for the fresh market trade. Blenheim (syn. Royal) and Tilton, which ripen in midseason or later, are marketed as fresh fruits, or processed as frozen, canned, or dried fruits. Blenheim is the preferred cultivar for its dessert quality, but it is soft and does not ship well. Patterson and Modesto, because of their color and quality, are replacing Tilton. White-fleshed, clingstone cultivars are grown for the fresh market and processing in the Balkan states.

To succeed in growing apricots, well drained, fertile soil is important as well as copper fungicide sprays in the fall and spring. To delay the frost sensitive bloom, try planting on the north side of a building, or near tall evergreen shrubs where winter sun will not warm them, but where they will get full sun in the summer. Apricot's fruit on spurs that bear for about four years, so pruning for new wood should not be as drastic as for peaches. They also do not get leaf curl but the same sprays help prevent brown rot and blights, which they do get.

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These blueberries at the Blueberry Patch in Starkville, Mississippi, are shown in a fruit coloring stage on May 17, 2017. Mostly warm winter conditions caused this year’s harvest to be unusually early in most parts of the state. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
Filed Under: Commercial Fruit and Nuts, Fruit May 19, 2017

WAYNESBORO, Miss. -- The demand for fresh Mississippi blueberries may grow this year after a mid-March freeze hampered production in neighboring states.

Freezing temperatures during the crop's early growth stage on farms east of the state, especially in Georgia and North Carolina, caused production losses of up to 50 percent.

Meanwhile, 85 percent of Mississippi's blueberry crop was either in good or excellent condition as of May 15, according to a weekly crop progress and condition report published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Yellow squash is among the fruits and vegetables available for purchase at the Starkville Farmers Market on May 2, 2017. Early spring temperatures allowed some truck crops producers to plant their fruit and vegetable crops a little early this year. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
Filed Under: Commercial Horticulture, Commercial Fruit and Nuts, Farmers Markets May 12, 2017

RAYMOND, Miss. -- This year's early spring temperatures allowed some fruit and vegetable growers to plant their crops a little earlier than usual.

Jeremy Maness, Mississippi State University Extension agent in Smith County, said growers in his county have not experienced any problems so far despite a late freeze.

"Everything is going well," he said. "Tomatoes grown in greenhouses or high tunnels are ready now. We project watermelons will be ready around mid- to late June, and field tomatoes should be ready to start coming off the vine around the first week of June."

Filed Under: Commercial Fruit and Nuts April 20, 2017

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Growers interested in commercial pecan production are invited to a spring field day May 11 in Raymond.

The event will begin at the Mississippi State University Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center at 1320 Seven Springs Road in Raymond. It is hosted by the Mississippi Pecan Growers Association, MSU Extension Service, and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.

Filed Under: Commercial Fruit and Nuts April 13, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Growing conditions first helped but then hurt Mississippi strawberries this year as the 2017 harvest season comes to an early conclusion.

Eric Stafne, fruit crops specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said a mild fall and winter helped the crop mature a little earlier than normal.

Filed Under: Commercial Horticulture, Commercial Fruit and Nuts, Farmers Markets April 7, 2017

WOODVILLE, Miss. -- Farmers market and cottage industry sales are a significant part of the Mississippi food scene, and Mississippi State University Extension Service training is helping entrepreneurs take advantage of these business opportunities.

The MSU Extension Service and Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion offers training on acidified canned foods and general food safety at locations across the state. An upcoming workshop will be held April 25 in Woodville, Mississippi, at the J.R. Hamilton Extension Building.

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