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“Our range intends to cover the entire production period”

Escande’s goal lies in covering the entire production period with a quality and easy-to-farm apricot.
Accompanied by Virginie Hocquet, Fruit Today had the chance to visit the French company’s experimental farm in Perpignan.
The farm has seriously bad weather conditions; it is located 10 metres above sea level, with a rather saline soil and few hours of cold (350-400). “If the selected hybrids adapt here, we are convinced that they will adapt anywhere,” the company’s agricultural engineer explains.
On around 30 hectares devoted exclusively to agricultural research on apricots, the French company has over 30,000 hybrids under observation. The goal, after being studied in this plantation area, will be to grow them in different climates and in different soils around Europe to verify the tree’s response (stature, vigour, production, etc.).
The end purpose is to obtain a very uniform range with orange flesh, round fruit, with double or triple A calibre, trees with average vigour, easy to grow and that require little thinning.
The most immediate experimentation is being carried out in two differentiated segments. On the one hand, the self-fertilising varieties that are earlier than the Banzai variety and on the other hand, a segment of late varieties that would be positioned after Kioto.
The late segment is the one with most competition and for this reason sources from the company consider that “these varieties must have very high quality.” All of them are self-fertilising, round, with a deep red colour and great organoleptic quality. After Kioto and Ninja are Mistral, Sirocco, Diablo and Calima.
Mistral is, without any doubt, one of the most popular varieties and that shows the best behaviour. With a production that is virtually all clustered in May, the fruit on the upper branches is thinned and the remainder is kept in zig-zag to obtain double or triple A calibre.
Improvements to apricots are more complicated than for other stone fruit varieties and at least six years are required to obtain the first fruit. “Without a doubt, little by little, we are obtaining a line of apricots that are managing to cover all the periods where previously there was only flavourless fruit,” Benoit Escande, an executive from the company explains.

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