Where Do Pistachios Grow? The Ideal Climate
Pistachios are native to Central Asia, including present-day Iran. They grow best in hot, dry climates with long summers and cool winters. When they’re dormant, they require 1,000 hours of temperatures at or below 45°F in total. This means 47 days of cold but not freezing temperatures. Pistachios don’t tolerate freezing ground!
The most compatible USDA hardiness zones for pistachios are 8 to 10, but they may also be able to grow in zones 7 and 11. Here are the best locations for growing pistachios:
- The San Joaquin Valley in California – This is the main commercial pistachio-growing region in the United States.
- Southeastern Arizona – The combination of heat and low humidity in this region is ideal for pistachios.
- Far west Texas – The hot, dry climate here is perfect for pistachios.
- New Mexico – The climate in New Mexico is very similar to that of Arizona.
The key is a dry environment with spring and summer breezes. If it’s too humid, the nuts will be susceptible to fungal diseases. And if there isn’t enough wind, the trees won’t be pollinated properly. Now, let’s move on to the how-to. Pistachios grow best in the hands of an attentive farmer, so if you’re up for the challenge, read on!
How to Grow Pistachios If Your Climate Allows It?
The trees can tolerate a wide range of soils, but they prefer sandy loam soils with a lot of calcium. How to grow pistachios if you have a good place to plant them? You should space them 20 feet apart to ensure they have enough room to grow. Pistachio trees can get up to 30 feet tall and 26 feet wide, so they need plenty of space!
Male and Female Trees
What’s interesting about pistachio trees is that they can either produce male or female flowers on one tree. This means you’ll need to plant the male trees in a way that allows wind to carry pollen to the female trees. If you don’t have enough male trees, your pistachio crop will be poor. At least one male tree per 10–15 female trees is a good ratio.
Water and Fertilizer Needs
Pistachio trees are drought-tolerant, but they need to be watered regularly during the summer. Most farmers provide 4–6 irrigation sessions with moderate quantities of water. How to grow pistachios in terms of watering? With drip irrigation, aim for 44 inches (less than the average 48 inches required for almonds).
Nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus deficiencies are common in pistachio trees. To avoid this, it’s important to get a soil test done and then follow the fertilizer recommendations. Many farmers follow this scheme:
- Between late winter and early spring, apply 8–12 pounds of N-P-K 12-12-17 +2MgO for every mature tree.
- In spring, inject a water-soluble 15-15-15 fertilizer through the irrigation system.
Others choose to add 10–20 tons of manure per hectare every other year. The fertilization needs of your trees will become apparent when they start producing nuts. At that point, you can adjust your fertilizer if the crop is poor quality.
Can You Grow Pistachio Trees From Seed?
It takes about 7 years for a pistachio tree grown from seed to produce nuts, so if you’re patient, you can do it. If you want to speed up the process, you can grow them from grafts. Rootstocks are available from nurseries that specialize in fruit trees.
When Can You Expect to Harvest Pistachios?
Now you know how to grow pistachios. But how long does it take until you can actually harvest them? The answer is: quite a while. Pistachio trees need to be at least 5 years old before they start producing nuts. The harvest usually begins in the seventh year and then continues for 20–30 years. The trees reach their peak production at 15–20 years of age.
So, if you’re patient enough to wait, growing pistachios can be a rewarding experience. Just make sure you have the right climate and soil, and you’re well on your way to becoming a pistachio farmer!
Pruning Pistachio Trees
Pistachio trees need to be pruned regularly to ensure a good crop. How to grow pistachios in terms of pruning? The main goal is to remove any dead, diseased or damaged wood. You should also prune to encourage good air circulation and reduce the risk of fungal diseases.
Pistachio trees are generally pruned in spring and summer, before the new growth begins. You can also trim the trees after the harvest, when they’re dormant again.
The Bottom Line
Now you know how to grow pistachios! Just remember to start with good quality trees, space them properly, water and fertilize regularly, and prune as needed. With a little patience and attention, you’ll be able to enjoy a bountiful pistachio harvest for years to come. Thanks for reading!
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