The soil and climate features in Extremadura position this region as a suitable area for the potential growth of the majority of the fruit tree species that live in mild climates. Despite this, the apricot tree in Extremadura represents only 0.5% of the total area dedicated to grow this fruit tree in the country, with 108 hectares (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, 2021). The main apricot production areas are the regions of Murcia and Aragon, with nearly 50% and 16% of the production, respectively.
A scarce production and the lack of adaptation of certain varieties of the apricot tree to the Extremadura region may have been reasons to promote disbelief in this crop. In order to obtain information on the reasons for the lack of uptake, CICYTEX has established a line of work to study the adaptive capacity and the compatibility relationships of 25 interesting varieties of apricot tree from two major apricot tree improvement programs in the country: CEBAS and the fruit tree improvement program of PSB Producción Vegetal in Murcia.
Traditionally, the former apricot tree varieties were all self-compatible, that is to say, they did not need pollinator varieties for good fruit setting. With the introduction of varieties originating in America or Asia into the European improvement programs, this feature has increasingly become less frequent, with the need to use pollinator varieties to ensure good productions for a major number of varieties of the apricot tree. Additionally, the continuous renewal of varietal species is introducing varieties in plantations with unknown capacity of adaption to certain crop areas, pollination needs and temperature requirements, which are essential to establish and predict their blossoming times.
A detailed study of new varieties for the soil and climate conditions of Extremadura has been performed though a dedicated project that began in 2020, that is allowing us to ascertain the degree of adaptation of these varieties as well as studying pollination and temperature requirements. The testing plot is situated in Finca La Orden in Vegas Bajas del Guadiana and belongs to CICYTEX.