Apricot is native to northern China and was imported to Italy in the Roman era from Greece and from Armenia.
Slightly over 50% of apricots are produced in the Mediterranean area. Italy is the most important producer in Europe, with 230 million kg annually (24% of continental production), a number which has been slowly but constantly increasing. The market has been stable in recent years and production of high quality fruit has been profitable: important criteria include attractive appearance and pleasant flavour. In recent years cultivars with extensive red coloration on the skin have become more popular with consumers. Another important development is the extended harvest period which today ranges from late May though early September. This effectively doubles the length of the apricot season with respect to a few years ago and makes it possible to increase total production without competing with traditional mid-season varieties. One negative aspect of many of the new cultivars is selfincompatibility, once nearly non-existent. This requires the grower to plant at least two cultivars with overlapping bloom to assure good fruit set. As a species, apricot isn’t well-adapted to restrained pruning styles, due to its high vigour and the lack of dwarfing rootstocks. It tends to be grown in more expansive tree forms, which reach full production earlier and are suitable for mechanical harvest, given that large volumes of apricots are used in commercial processing. The “Catalan vase” is a tree form produced by systemically pruning back shoots to 50 cm length during the first few growing seasons.
This reconciles the need to reduce tree height with the need for precocious production. Green pruning of shoots can be done well mechanically (topping). In recent years many new rootstocks have been introduced as alternatives to the traditional seedling Myrobalan (Myrobalan clone 29/C, seedling peach Monclar and Rubira, seedling apricot Manicot, plum Penta, Ishtara hybrids) which allow higher productivity, colour and fruit weight and permit apricots to be grown in various soil types.

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