A new variety of apricot called "Lorna" produces large,
sweet-tasting fruit for spring. Lorna is the newest apricot from fruit breeders
with the Agricultural Research Servicein Fresno, Calif.
For the past seven years, ARS scientists scrutinized about 1,000 trees of
this experimental apricot in research and commercial orchards in central
California. The trees consistently produced generous harvests of firm, large
fruit with dense, fine-textured flesh, according to geneticist Craig A.
Ledbetter with the ARS Horticultural Crops Research
Laboratory in Fresno. ARS is the U.S.
Department of Agriculture's chief scientific agency.
Ledbetter, who supervised the orchard tests, plans to provide Lorna cuttings
to researchers and nursery operators early in 1999. The new variety is suitable
for backyard gardens as well as commercial production.
Apricots are low in calories and provide vitamin A and potassium--nutrients
essential for good health.
California leads the nation in apricot production. The state's 1997 harvest
of 132,000 tons was worth about $38 million to growers.
In California, Lorna apricots ripen in mid- to late May, just after
Castlebrite--the first commercial apricot of the season. But Lorna apricots are
typically twice as big as Castlebrite fruit.
Though tested only in California, Lorna trees probably can also be grown in
the apricot-producing regions of Oregon, Washington and Utah. Like most other
commercial apricot varieties, Lorna is self-pollinating. This means growers do
not need to plant a second kind of apricot as a pollen source for Lorna trees.
Lorna fruit may crack open if rains hit an orchard just before harvest, or
if the trees are accidentally over-irrigated. To sidestep those problems,
growers can buy crop insurance--to cover rain damage--and take extra care with
scheduling irrigation near harvest time.
Scientific contact: Craig A. Ledbetter, ARS Horticultural Crops
Research Laboratory, 2021 S. Peach Ave., Fresno, CA 93727, phone (559)
453-3064, fax (559) 453-3088, [email protected]
Story contacts Horticultural Crops Research Marcia A Wood