Photos by Muiad Al Siyabi
Growing fruits in a hot country is very challenging but not for Oman — a country that is known for its exceptional weather in different areas due to the diverse terrains along with its special location surrounded by most of the important seas in the area.
Many villages in Oman are special in growing different species of fruits that are usually not found in hot countries including grapes, apricot, strawberry, peach and many others.
Apricot trees are grown in different villages in Oman like Wakan village and Jabal Shams. Apricot trees are perennial fruit trees that grow in different places of the Sultanate of Oman, especially the high mountainous parts such as in the villages of Wadi Mistal in the Wilayat of Nakhl, specifically in the villages of Wakan, Hadash and Al Qura, which is the appropriate place for their growth, where the weather is cold during winter and mild in summer. This allows apricot trees to grow in quantities that enable farmers to market their fruits commercially, which constitutes a suitable income for them due to the large demand.
As for the flowering season of apricot trees and the stages the tree goes through before fruiting, dormancy and leaf fall season starts at the beginning of December each year whereas the flowering phase begins at the beginning of February until the beginning of March every year. The apricot fruits begin to ripen in mid-April and the harvest continues for a month to a month and a half. Farmers sell them by placing them at the entrances of the villages so that the tourists visiting the village can buy from them or by selling them in Nakhl market and other nearby markets.
Apricot trees need special care to bear their fruits. At the end of the harvest season, and in the middle of June of each year, the farmers fertilise the apricot trees for the first time to provide the trees with the nutrients they lost during the ripening and harvesting of the crops. In mid-November, the next fertilisation is done before the tree’s dormancy and leaf fall season. The trees are fertilised for the last time when the flowers begin to open at the beginning of February, and the fertilisation continues in simple portions until the beginning of April of each year. Farmers use local fertiliser to fertilise apricot trees and they are keen not to use chemical fertilisers or chemical pesticides to maintain the natural growth of trees as well as their resistance to agricultural pests naturally.
During the tree’s dormancy and leaf fall, Farmers make sure to prune dry tree branches and clean them of weeds and other plants. Watering of apricot trees is stopped during this, while it is watered once every 12 days throughout the year, except for the days of crop maturity, where it is watered once every 6 days to facilitate the ripening of the fruits and increase its size.
Amazingly, the apricot tree is one of the most abundant trees, as it begins producing when the tree is 1.5 metres high, while it continues to produce and rise until it reaches a height of 20 metres in some cases. They are characterised by their ability to grow many branches similar to mango trees in terms of size and growth.
Away from this, Apricot trees form a splendid scene during their flowering season where the farms and terraces become covered in white for apricot, and white for pinkish-peach, which provides a special scenery to locals and visitors.