I have a Harcot Apricot tree that I planted last year. It was bare root with...

Asked April 29, 2014, 9:19 AM EDT

I have a Harcot Apricot tree that I planted last year. It was bare root with a single leader, probably about 3 feet all. 3-4 limbs sprouted and grew from the leader within about 5 inches above the ground but nothing else sprouted from the leader above that mark. I think the remainder of the leader is dead. Should I: (1)cut off the upper part of the leader from which nothing has sprouted then use one of the sprouts as a new leader, (2) leave the "dead" leader but prune the rest of the tree as normal, (3) dig the tree out and start over with a more mature tree, or (4) some other option?

Hennepin County Minnesota

3 Responses

Your tree is a grafted tree. Grafting is when a section of a stem with leaf buds is inserted into the stock of a tree. The upper part of the graft (the scion) becomes the top of the tree. The lower portion becomes the root system or part of the trunk. The scion tissue has the Harcot Apricot characteristics. Examine your tree for the graft union (a bump or knob just above the roots) near the soil line. The shoots arising from below the graft union will not have Harcot Apricot characteristic. If the 3-4 shoots came from tissue below the graft union then the tree should be replaced. If the 3-4 shoots came from above the graft union then both the scion with Harcot tissue and rootstock are alive. Harcot, Moongold, and Sungold apricots are sensitive to winter injury, and even if they survive, they bloom very early in spring, and their flowers are usually killed by frost, so there is no fruit. Harcot is listed as a zone 5 tree so it is not hardy in most parts of MN. For more information please go to this site.
http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/fruit/stone-fruit-for-minnesota-gardens/

The shoots come above the graft union on the scion. In this case, should I prune off the upper portion of the scion, which isn't producing shoots or should I leave it?

Great, you still have some Harcot tissue. You may prune off the dead tissue at any time. Dead wood is often dry and brittle and does not bend.