Today, what may be called the great apricot belt runs from Turkey to China. Here, apricots grow in all their glorious diversity: one can find white, black, gray, and pink apricots, from pea- to peach-size. Some 2,000 varieties grow in China alone. California clearly has a long way to go. But fruit breeders, tinkering with stone fruits at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's California research stations, have created both better-tasting practical varieties and specialty hybrids. At the 20-acre Fresno station, I pick a rare white apricot—its pale skin, pink blush, and translucent flesh similar to that of a white peach—and a Pakistani hunza, a tiny, juicy apricot with tan-orange skin and flesh, a mysterious musky flavor, and enough sugar to rate a 32 on the Brix scale (the fruit farmer's standard scale for measuring sweetness). The typical castlebrite scores 10; the blenheim, 18.