Facts About Pistachio Harvest

Friday, September 6th, 2019

It’s pistachio harvesting season! What better time to learn some facts about the process?

How do Pistachios Grow?

Pistachios grow in grape-like clusters on the tree and each cluster may have anywhere from thirty to fifty nuts. The pistachio is a broad, bushy, deciduous tree which grows slowly to a height and spread of 25 to 30 feet, with one or several trunks. They require both male and female trees for the fruit to grow and winds to spread the pollen. Under favorable conditions pistachio trees live and produce for centuries.

When are Pistachios ready to be Harvested?

The nuts are harvested when the husk or hull covering the shell becomes fairly loose. As the nut ripens, the hull separates from the shell, and is easily removed when pinched; the hull often turns rosy in color when further ripened. Timing of harvest is critically important to allow for the greatest amount of naturally split nuts; growers closely monitor their fields to determine the best start date and typically begin in late August to early September with harvest lasting approximately four to six weeks.

How are Pistachios Harvested?

The trees are planted and spaced for ease of access into the orchard by mechanical harvesting machines. The machine grasps the trunk of the tree and gently shakes it, allowing the nuts to fall into a catching frame, never touching the ground. The nuts are then transferred to bins and transported to the processing plant. The hulls are quickly removed to prevent staining of the shell. They are then dried or roasted and seasoned.

How many Pistachios does a tree produce?

A fully mature tree may produce as much as 50 pounds of dry, hulled nuts. The trees begin bearing in 5 to 8 years, but full bearing is not attained until the 15th or 20th year. Pistachios tend toward biennial bearing, producing a heavy crop one year, followed by little or none the next. Production of nuts is also influenced by drought, excessive rain, heat or cold and high winds.

How are pistachios used?

About 90% of pistachios are consumed as in-shell snacks. Shelled pistachios are utilized in cooking and commercially in confectionery, ice cream, candies, sausages, bakery goods and flavoring for puddings. They can also be added to dressings, casseroles and other dishes.

At Heart of the Desert in New Mexico, we grow, process, package and sell our pistachios under our own label. You will find the new crop on the shelves in time for the holidays! If you are interested in purchasing our product, you can buy online here or stop into any of our stores in New Mexico.

Heart of the Desert is a working pistachio ranch and vineyard with four retail establishments in New Mexico. They are best known for their farm fresh pistachios and Award-Winning New Mexico wines. Each store offers wine and pistachio tastings. They offer worldwide shipping and produce attractive gourmet baskets that make great corporate and family gifts. The main store, on the ranch in Alamogordo, offers farm tours that showcases how pistachios are grown and processed as well as a stunning Tuscany themed patio that overlooks the groves and is available for weddings, private parties or enjoying a relaxing glass of wine.