How to Plant and Grow a Pistachio Tree

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Pistachio trees thrive in climates with hot summers (100°F or above) and non-freezing winters, requiring a chill period to break dormancy and bear fruit.

Ideal Climate for Pistachios

Most U.S. pistachio production occurs in central California, with some areas in Arizona and New Mexico also suitable due to their similar climates.

Primary U.S. Growing Regions

Pistachio trees are wind-pollinated, needing breezy conditions in spring and early summer. They are alternate-bearing, producing heavy crops one year and lighter crops the next.

Pollination Requirements

Plant pistachio trees in early spring while dormant. They need full sun, well-draining sandy, loamy soil, and should be spaced at least 20 feet apart. Proper planting ensures transplant success.

Planting Guidelines

While drought-tolerant, pistachio trees require deep, infrequent watering for abundant harvests. They do poorly in high humidity or wet soil, making excellent drainage crucial.

Water and Soil Needs

Optimal temperatures are around 100°F in summer. In winter, trees need 900-1,000 hours of temperatures between 32-45°F. They cannot tolerate freezing conditions or frozen ground.

Temperature and Humidity

Conduct soil tests to determine nutrient needs before fertilizing. Apply necessary fertilizers in late winter to early spring to support tree health and productivity.

Fertilization and Soil Testing

Pistachios are ready for harvest in October when hulls turn pink-yellow. Shake the branches to dislodge the nuts, and remove epicarps within 24 hours for best flavor and freshness.

Harvesting Pistachios