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I have an apricot tree that is so heavy laden with fruit that it broke a major branch yesterday leaving me with about a half bushel of partially ripened fruit. Can any of it be saved? What should I do?

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Fruit ripens in part by ethylene gassing (that's what commercial tomato shippers do by picking green tomatoes, packing them up, and gassing them with ethylene to bring out the red color) however, some of the sugars and flavors are just not going to develop once fruit is off the trees as well as the texture of the fruit will be altered.  You could try putting the green apricots in a single layer and covering loosely with a garbage bag (to concentrate ethylene gas but not so tightly that humidity builds up and promotes rotting and mold formation) possibly could help, but like supermarket tomatoes, will be inferior to tree ripened fruit. 

Of more concern is the health and condition of  your tree.  That large of an injury will be very stressful for the tree.  The tree will try to seal that wound, expending energy to sealing off but it is such a large wound it will not necessarily be able to seal off.  It also is a large surface area where bacteria and mold spores could take hold and cause problems down the road.  It is not recommended to cover the wound, it's better to leave it uncovered, as most wound dressings and covering actually promote an environment more favorable for bacteria and fungi.  If you want to send a digital photo of the damage, I could better see the damage.  For the future, pruning your tree for even weight distribution, thinning fruits are annual maintenance required for healthy trees.  There are many useful publications from Extension on pruning fruit trees.  Here is one from University of California http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/filelibrary/2002/3363.pdf that will provide information on proper pruning of fruit trees.

Posted on 30 Jul 2008

Maggie Shao
Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

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