The apricot (Prunus armeniaca L.), which is native to China, is popular for its attractive appearance, unique flavor, and high nutritional value. Some apricot cultivars bear fruit early in the season; therefore, they are important competitors in the early summer fruit market (Chen et al., 2015; Liu and Liu, 2006). Recently introduced apricot cultivars, such as Katy and Sungold, have been widely planted in China; these cultivars are highly productive and amenable to long-term storage. As the standard of living increases, consumers value other fruit properties in addition to yield, such as taste and quality. Consumers increasingly demand Chinese local or improved apricot cultivars, such as Meishuo, Chuan Zhi Hong, Luo Tuo Huang, and Guo Zhi Xian, which are known to have an excellent flavor and unique aroma (Huang et al., 2018; Zhao et al., 2016). In this context, our group aims to select and breed early-ripening apricot cultivars with high eating quality to meet consumer demand.
Zao Jinyan and Mei Xiang, two outstanding apricot cultivars with excellent eating quality, were developed by the Plum and Apricot Group at the Zhengzhou Fruit Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (ZFRI-CAAS). ‘Zao Jinyan’ and ‘Mei Xiang’ were released in Henan Province, China, in 2010 and 2013, respectively. Zao Jinyan is a very early-ripening cultivar, with a fruit development period of 49–55 d and a ripening date of early to middle May in Zhengzhou (Henan Province, China). The fruit of cultivar Zao Jinyan has a bright golden yellow peel, a clean, smooth surface, and a nearly globose shape. These fruits are juicy, with a soluble solids content (SSC) generally higher than 15.0%. The cultivar Mei Xiang has a fruit development period of 70–80 d and a ripening date of early June in Zhengzhou. The fruit of cultivar Mei Xiang has a golden yellow peel, which is rosy red on the side exposed to the sun, and a nearly globose shape. ‘Mei Xiang’ fruits are juicy, with a pleasant favor, intense fruit aroma, and SSC of ≈14.0%. Both ‘Zao Jinyan’ and ‘Mei Xiang’ are self-incompatible and require pollinizers such as ‘Katy’ and ‘Sungold’.
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