Pistachio Tree Facts

Friday, February 15th, 2019
pistachio trees at heart of the desert

Pistachio trees are very intriguing! February is a good time of the year to learn more about them, because it is the prime planting season. Pistachios have the narrowest climate requirements of any of the other commercial nut trees. So, before you spend any money on trees, let us guide you on whether they will thrive at your place.

Pistachio Tree Climate

This is a desert (arid climate) tree. Once it is established, it doesn’t require nearly as much water as other trees. It will take as much water as you want to give it, as long as it all percolates through the soil within 8 hrs. Unlike the pecan, which loves to have “wet feet”, the pistachio will get root rot if the crown (base of the tree) stands in water for long periods of time. In high humidity climates, the nut itself, may not form correctly, and may even sprout on the trees.

Temperature parameters are narrow: it likes long, hot, dry summers, but requires 1,000 hrs. (under 45 degrees) of chilling during the winter months……but the ground shouldn’t freeze. The high desert climate of Alamogordo, New Mexico, where Heart of the Desert Pistachios & Wine is based, is ideal in that there is dry heat in the summer, as well as sunny days during the winter, but when the sun goes down, so do the temperatures. Even though temperatures may get down into the 20’s at night, it’s a plunge for just several hours, and the ground doesn’t freeze. Even during the coldest nights, any crust on the soil can be kicked through with a boot heel.

Why Grow Pistachios?

Marianne and George Schweers, owners of Heart of the Desert Pistachios & Wine, chose to grow pistachios because it is a gourmet nut, has been in demand throughout history, with very limited places in the world that it can be grown, and holds its price!

Trees with Human Reproductive Cycles?

The reproductive cycle of the trees is so similar to the human cycle, it’s amazing. You need both a male tree (doesn’t bear), and the female tree. The female bears the crop, but the pollen from the male is critical. Timing is critical. If the male pollen isn’t there at the time the female flower is receptive, there will be no nutmeat grown inside the shell. The female tree has a “false pregnancy” every year. She always grows nut shells. If the male pollen isn’t present at the right time, the shell will remain hollow. The reason chilling is so important, is to slow the male tree down from producing the pollen too early. We hate to have a warm winter because we know the timing is going to be off, and a lot of the nut shells hanging on the trees, will never be filled.

Pistachios are a fascinating nut!

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.