THE pistachios they are a very popular fruit, which can be used in our recipes all year round, or tasted alone, generally roasted and salted. Given this, it is inevitable to think that many budding gardeners are taking an interest in grow their own pistachios but… it is good to proceed with particular attention towards this hypothesis. We will discover together that it is not easy but that, not for this, we have to give up!
What is the pistachio plant
L'pistachio tree (Pistacia vera) is a member of the Anacardiaceae family, and is related to cashew, mango and sumac, as well as ivy and oak.
Pistachios are a small bushy deciduous tree native to Western Asia and Asia Minor, from Syria to the Caucasus and Afghanistan, which grows slowly to moderate heights, which are rarely touched ... as they are generally pruned to avoid excessive development.
Pollination and cultivation of pistachio
The pistachio trees I'm dioecious, which means that the trees produce only male or female flowers. Therefore, both a male and a female tree are needed to produce those small nuts (evidently, on the female tree), with pollination favored by the wind. A female tree does not produce nuts unless there is a male tree growing nearby, and to maximize the chances of pollination, the male tree should be best planted upwind every 10 to 15 female trees.
Also note that pistachios have a long juvenile stage, and they usually don't produce many nuts for the first five years, instead reaching full production after 10 - 12 years. Another characteristic of pistachios is the tendency to biennial cultivation, which alternately bears many fruits a year, and then very few the following year.
The pistachio trees they are plants with a deep root system that allows them to extract the soil in depth and to draw water from close to the aquifer. This adaptation allows pistachios to survive long periods of drought. They are also considered to be more salt tolerant than many other species of tree nuts and fruit trees. Therefore, it is possible to grow pistachios even where the soil is very arid, almost desert.
Naturally, pistachios perform best in favorable soil conditions, prefer soils with a pH close to neutral and with decent depth.
The largest difficulties in the cultivation of pistachios is their climate needs. Pistachios require long, hot, dry summers and moderate winters. More precisely, to grow and produce their small nuts they require very hot summers (more than 600 hours above 30 degrees) and very cold winters (more than 1,000 hours of cold below 7 degrees), which results in a period of winter dormancy of about 6 weeks with temperatures below 7 degrees.
What places have these unique climatic conditions? In Italy it is evident that these characteristics are mainly satisfied in Sicily and in some areas of southern Italy, which can not only guarantee the necessary radiation and temperature, but also a semi-desert ground condition.
However, it is not excluded that pistachio can be grown in other latitudes, although pistachios give their best and produce the largest number of nuts in semi-desert arid climates that have long, hot and dry summers, with low humidity and cool winters. but not rigid. During the growing season, pistachios thrive in heat, with summer temperatures of around 37 degrees Celsius producing large quantities of the best nuts.
Also remember that being semi-desert trees, pistachios do not like humidity during the growing season. The high humidity, due for example to summer and autumn rains, favors fungal diseases, which overwinter on the trees and infect them the following year. Pollination is also affected by strong dry winds, late spring rains and frosts.
On the sidelines of the above we shared, the harsh reality that future growers face is that they are there very few places that are warm enough in summer, but mild enough in winter to grow pistachio trees!
But then what to do?
The problem of the sustainability or otherwise of pistachio cultivation in one's reference territory should be taken on as soon as possible, and we hope that with this few and primary information, gardeners can decide with greater knowledge of the facts whether or not it is possible to grow pistachio trees where they live!
So don't be fooled by those who say that they have grown a pistachio tree right next to your land: growing a tree and obtaining its production are in fact two completely different things, and you should therefore be sure of what we mean.
Generally speaking, unless you live in a place that can fully meet the needs of a pistachio tree and has room for at least two trees (male and female), our advice would be to choose a more appropriate tree. , which is less demanding and better suited to the climatic range in which it will be grown. Good luck!