Fun Facts about Pistachio Harvest

Tuesday, September 20th, 2022

Things have been busy here at Heart of the Desert! August is the prime season for grape harvest, which we just finished, now we’re in the middle of pistachio harvest! We love this time of year because we get to talk about our two favorite things and start the cycle for new and exciting products!

Let’s talk pistachio harvest! If you are in New Mexico and want to learn more about the process, be sure to check out one of our farm tours. You can learn all about pistachios, from planting to harvest! If you can’t come in person, you can also take a video tour.

Of course, we could talk about our pistachios all day, but instead, we will just highlight some fun facts about the pistachio harvest season.

  1. Pistachio harvest typically starts in September and ends in early October everywhere in the world!
  2. Whether you’re harvesting in New Mexico or Iran, the season is pretty much the same. Harvest time is highly dependent on weather, so a hotter summer may even trigger the crop to be ripe in late August, but generally, September/October is the sweet spot. The exception to that time frame is Australia! Their harvest season is February/ March!

  3. Pistachios are an “alternate bearing” tree.
  4. This means one year will have a heavy crop, and the following year will have a lighter crop.

  5. Like a fine wine… Pistachios take time!
  6. Pistachio trees take 4-5 years to fruit; however, they produce their highest yield when they reach around 12-14 years old.

  7. They Have an Outer Hull
  8. If you see a cluster of pistachios growing in a tree, you may not recognize them! That’s because they are covered with an outer hull called the “epicarp.” This external hull sticks to the inner shell until the pistachio is ripe. Upon ripening, the hull begins to separate from that inner shell and is easy to remove. The epicarp is typically removed within 24 hours after harvest, so we don’t see them when we purchase pistachios in stores.

  9. Watch for Falling Pistachios!
  10. Once pistachios are ripe a “sharp rap to the branch” will cause the nuts to fall from the tree. At this point, there are several ways to harvest them. Those with smaller crops can pick them by hand or use a mallet to shake them loose from the branches. Large pistachio orchards use machines called “shakers” to shake the branches and knock the nuts loose!

  11. No Five-Second Rule!
  12. Once the pistachios shake loose, you don’t want them to fall into the dirt! The hard ground and soil can tear the epicarp and contaminate the nuts. To avoid the pistachios hitting the ground,
    you can use a tarp, or for large crops, a catcher is typically connected to the mechanical shaker.

  13. The Final Touch
  14. After the epicarp is removed, the nuts are washed and dried and then sorted to weed out nuts that didn’t open or are stained or discolored. Finally, they are ready to be salted, seasoned, and
    packaged for purchase. What is your favorite flavor?

    Are you in the mood for a crunchy treat yet? Well, good news! In honor of harvest season, we are having a 10% off all pistachios and wine through September 26th! Just pick out your favorites and use the code “HARVEST.” Check out our shop today!

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.