Where Do Pistachios Grow? (WHAT Are They) And MORE

What Are Pistachios?

Where do pistachios grow? The pistachio tree grows in the Middle East and Asia. Pistachio nuts are rectangular, dark-green seeds that snuggle in a cream-colored shell when ready to eat. 

They appear as yellow, green, or reddish fruits on trees and ripen until the pistachio shells naturally burst along a seam, disclosing the seed inside. You can then shake the pistachios from the branches and catch them on a tarp to harvest the nut crop.


Where Do Pistachios Grow?

Pistachios are one of the most popular nuts globally; however, they aren’t nuts. Like many other nuts, pistachios are seeds that sprout inside the drupe of the pistachio tree. As the drupe dries, a stiff hull forms around the edible pistachio seed inside, giving it the appearance of a nut.

Where do pistachios grow? Pistachio trees are native to the Middle East and Central Asia but currently grow in many nations worldwide, including the United States, China, India, and Italy.

As a desert tree, Pistachio requires hot summers to produce a successful yield, and they dislike cold winters, dampness, or excess water. As a result, you can rarely see fruit-bearing pistachio trees in Europe. They mostly grow in climates similar to those in the Middle East. Read our article and find out what temperature is too cold for plants.

Where Do Pistachios Come From?

The question is, where do pistachios come from? Iran produces 551,307 tonnes of pistachios. They also play an important role in Iranian culture.

Because of its ideal climate, California produces more than 99 percent of all pistachios in the United States. In the last several years, nut output in the United States has risen considerably, and we expect it to continue to grow in the future.

Since pistachios are a significant ingredient in many Turkish recipes, especially their world-famous dessert, pistachio baklava, most Turkish pistachios consumption is within Turkey.

Despite producing about 75,000 tonnes of pistachios each year, China cannot meet its demand and must import the majority of its pistachios. Due to the region’s instability and violence in Syria, pistachio production has dropped substantially by more than 11,000 tonnes in just two years.

How Do Pistachios Grow?

People farmed pistachio trees for their drupes and seeds for thousands of years, with archeological evidence of pistachio eating dating to 6750 BCE.

Where do pistachios grow? You can plant pistachio trees on farms to make pollination and management more straightforward, and peak output might take up to 20 years. Since only the female pistachio tree bears fruit, many pistachio trees are now mechanically pollinated to avoid wasting space on ineffective male plants.

However, some countries still allow their pistachio trees to pollinate naturally by growing male trees near the female trees. In the United States, farmers harvest with equipment that shakes the tree violently, causing the drupes to fall to the ground, but, in most other nations, harvesting is still by hand.

After you finish the shaking, you can collect the drupes then dry them. You can later process to remove their thick hulls, leaving the pistachio seed. Depending on their grade and demand, you can maintain these pistachios in their shells or de-shell.

Are Pistachios Nuts?

Pistachios are a nut that is not native to the United States. They are, in reality, the edible seed of the pistachio plant. However, the culinary world still classifies it as a nut and a tree nut by allergy sufferers, like many other seeds.

If you don’t have a tree nut allergy, pistachios are a great addition to your diet because they’re high in nutrients and support heart health.

Do Pistachios Grow on Trees?

You might be curious about the appearance of a Pistachio Tree. Pistachio trees are slow-growing trees). They have an extensive taproot and grow bushy with a thick umbrella-shaped canopy.

Because pistachios bear fruit twice a year, the yield is higher in opposite years. They can live up to 300 years and take seven to ten years to begin bearing fruit.

pistachio on the tree

Top Reasons Why Pistachios are Expensive

Pistachios are one of the healthiest and possibly tastiest nuts on the planet. You can find their characteristic green fruits in various dishes, including salads, entrees, and desserts. They’re perhaps most popular on their own as a lunchtime snack: A perfect dry roast with mild salt. 

The flavor is deep, nutty, a little earthy with sweetness, and cracking the nuts out of their shells is almost as pleasant as the flavor itself. There isn’t another nut just like them.

Whether you like pistachios, you puzzle about the price if you ever buy them. Pistachios are more expensive than other nuts, such as almonds and peanuts. There are several compelling reasons for this.

You Can Find Pistachios in a Few Locations

Pistachio trees are desert natives that can thrive in poor soil and terrible weather conditions if root drainage is adequate. They have two needs for optimum ripening: cool winters ( but the ground cannot freeze) and long, hot summers with low humidity. Surprisingly, this severely restricts where you can farm them around the world. 

Along with other Middle Eastern countries, the San Joaquin Valley in California, southeastern Arizona, and the high desert of New Mexico, Iran are significant pistachio tree growing zones. California produces 98 percent of the US crop.

Pistachios Take Long to Grow

Growing pistachios takes four to five years for a pistachio orchard to bear fruit once you select a suitable desert region. It takes 15 to 20 years to reach peak production after starting with only a handful of nuts.

Individual Tress Produce Nuts in Large Quantities 

When you discover the ideal planting location, then wait for two decades for the female pistachio tree to mature; each female pistachio tree will only produce roughly forty pounds of dried, hulled nuts. Like any other crop, weather conditions must be ideal for maximizing production. 

Male trees (pollinators) do not produce nuts. The number of pollinators in a grove might range from 10% to 15% of the total trees.

Peak Production Occurs On Alternate Years

Pistachio trees have an alternate bearing, which means that in one year, the tree produces at total capacity, followed by a year in which the tree saves nutrients for the following year.

Pistachios Are A Time-Consuming Crop

Machines harvest and process the nuts in the United States, but humans operate and supervise the machinery, loading and unloading the pistachios. The final step of quality control, when you sort the nuts manually to ensure that you only pack the best nuts, is the most time-consuming.

In the end, producing and harvesting pistachios is a complex, time-consuming, and labor-intensive process with little room for shortcuts.

What you Need to Know About Planting Pistachio Trees

Pistachios are a favorite of many people. They’re a delightful snack that you may use in various recipes. Plus, they’re high in nutritious ingredients. Do you want to try your hand at cultivating your own?

  • Climate: The climate is the most crucial aspect in selecting whether or not to plant pistachio trees. Pistachios demand long, hot, dry summers and cold winters but will not grow in frozen ground. Pistachio trees do not thrive in humid environments. Pistachios require the least environmental attention of any commercially cultivated nut crop. Because the tree’s blooms are by wind pollination, you also need spring and summer breezes for a successful harvest. This effectively limits expansion in the United States, San Joaquin Valley in California, southeastern Arizona, west Texas, and New Mexico’s high desert.
  • Soil: Pistachio trees grow well in various soil types but thrive in deep, light, dry, sandy loam soils with high calcium carbonate (CaCO3) concentrations. They can withstand high salt levels in the soil.
  • Spacing: Pistachio trees should get spaced approximately 20 feet (6.1 meters) apart. If you plant closer together than 20 feet (6.1 meters), the overcrowding and mutual shading of trees will reduce the quantity and quality of products. It also makes harvesting and trimming more difficult after a few years. Because the wind carries pollen from the male tree (pollinator) to the female blossom tree, position the male trees so that the wind blows pollen across the female trees. Male tree ratios range from one male for every ten females to one male for every fifteen females.
  • Pistachios require patience and time to grow: It won’t be until the fifth year that you see your first pistachio. Pistachio production will take roughly 7–8 years to obtain reasonable output and 15–20 years to reach peak production. You should also remember that pistachio trees have a natural predisposition to bear alternately. This implies the tree produces heavily one year then reserves nutrients the following year, resulting in a lower yield.
  • Pistachios are harvested almost anywhere in the world in the early summer and ripen in late August or September. When pistachio harvest season approaches, the hulls lose their green color and take on a pinkish-yellow color. When the nuts are fully ripe, the thin, elastic hull begins to detach from the inner shell. Squeezing the epicarp between your fingers at this stage can easily separate it from the inner shell.
  • Large pistachio ranches use mechanical shakers to drop the nuts, although you can also remove the nuts by rapping the branches with a stout pole or a rubber mallet. To ensure freshness and flavor, you must remove the epicarps within 24 hours of harvest. After drying, you can roast and season the raw nuts. You can do all of this in your kitchen in small quantities, but if you want to start a large orchard, you’ll need to invest in commercial equipment.

Interesting Facts About Pistachio Trees

  • Pistachio trees are unisex: with either male or female blossoms on each tree, but not both. A single male tree can fertilize up to ten female trees, so you should plant in that ratio in orchards; nevertheless, you can grow and graft a single female tree with a male branch. Insects will handle the rest; they will transport pollen from the male flowers to the rest of the tree. Early in the summer, the flowers bloom, and the fruit begins to grow as they fade.
  • The pistachio is a biennial bearer: instead of producing a regular crop year after year, it produces a little crop one year and a much larger crop the next. A mature tree’s yield can be over a hundred pounds of pistachios. These ripen throughout the summer, with the drupe’s original green tint gradually changing to a reddish-brown as it ripens. The outer shell is starting to dry up and lose by September or October. The seed’s hard outer shell will eventually split open as it matures, making a unique popping sound. Because this typically cracks the hull, allowing insects and mold to infest the seed, it’s critical to harvest pistachios as soon as they ripen. Spreading tarpaulins under the tree and shaking the trunk will cause ripe drupes to fall off the branches is the quickest way to do this. Commercial growers use mechanical agitators to shake their trees, allowing for a quick harvest.
pistachio tree

Nuts for Nuts!

The pistachio isn’t a nut. In technical terms, it’s a drupe, a fleshy tree fruit with a shell-covered seed. You discard the fruit flesh of pistachios to get the delicious seed. Stone fruits like peaches, cherries, and apricots have the opposite effect.

Pistachios are among a category of drupes known as “culinary nuts,” including cashews and almonds. A proper nut, sometimes known as a “botanical nut,” is a seed covered in a hard, woody shell that is not a fruit. Hazelnuts, chestnuts, and acorns are among the favorites in this category.

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