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Another big pistachio crop could be shaping up

Another big pistachio crop could be shaping up
This season’s California pistachio crop could be the third largest ever, even though the calendar says it should be the off-yield year for the alternate bearing crop.

This season’s California pistachio crop could be the third largest ever, even though the calendar says it should be the off-yield year for the alternate bearing crop.

“In many orchards, we’re seeing development of a moderate or even an on-year crop,” says Andy Anzaldo, general manager of grower relations for Paramount Farms, based at Lost Hills, Calif. He works with pistachio growers primarily in Fresno, Kern and Madera counties.

Paramount is the largest pistachio grower in the state. Anzaldo made his comments in the most recent issue of the subscription enewsletter, Tree Nut Farm Press, sponsored by Cheminova.

“I and many others in the industry feel this is definitely a 400-million pound crop,” he says. Last year’s crop in an on-production year totaled 520 million pounds.

Anzaldo cites favorable weather, going back more than a year, as the main reason for such expectations.

“Last season we had a mild spring and an early summer, which gave us as a flush of growth for the next year that we normally don’t see. This past winter we had more than enough chilling hours — over 800 — for adequate bloom and pollination this season. Also, we had an ideal bloom, with good, uniform overlap between the male and female trees and no extreme weather events.”

As a result, trees have responded with more clusters per tree than usual for an off-year.

Read more of Anzaldo’s comments at where you can see the most recent issues of Tree Nut Farm Press and subscribe to the free enewsletter that is emailed twice monthly through the growing season.

There you will also read the comments of Kathy Kelley Anderson, University of California Cooperative Extension pomology farm advisor for Stanislaus County, who says California walnut growers are expecting a good crop.

“There are no major concerns about the crop right now,” she says. “We’ve had a decent amount of nut set, and though it’s still a little too early to tell for sure, I don’t see any real sizing problems.”

Fresno, Calif., agronomist Eli Akel reports in the same enewsletter that the almond trees he checks in Fresno, Kings and Madera counties “are looking good. The majority had a good nut set and most growers have a better-than-average crop at this point.”

The cool weather has been good for nut sizing and has served to proliferate the trees toward next year’s bud development. Sampling the nuts, however, reveals a slight percentage of under-developed nuts. Now, we need warm temperatures to put the normal harvest date back on track.”

While it has been unseasonably wet and cold in California this winter and spring, New Mexico pecan producers are in the grip of a stifling Southwest drought.

Nevertheless, New Mexico grower Frank Paul Salopek is pleased with the condition of his pecan trees and the nut set.

Salopek’s family farms 600 acres of mostly Western Schley, with some Wichita and Bradley pollinators in New Mexico’s Mesilla Valley near Las Cruces, N.M.

Salopek said his irrigation district’s water allocation is "essentially nonexistent. So far, we’ve been told that we’ll get just 4 acre inches for the season — that’s only enough for one irrigation.” The rest of the water for this year’s crop will come from the Salopeks’ wells.

To read how Salopek has not had to battle nut casebearers log on to

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