What is in this article?:
- Western pistachio growers report excellent to record crop yields this year.
- Arizona grower Jim Cook credits good weather, sunshine, and a 4,500 foot elevation for his record crop.
- Grower Brian Blackwell, Bakersfield, Calif., reports almost doubled yields ranging from 3,000 pounds/acre to 4,000 pounds per acre this year.
Father and son Arizona pistachio growers Jim and Mark Cook.
For Blackwell, disease pressure was higher this year due to the late spring rains and additional precipitation in early June and September. The fungal disease alternaria late blight increased as a result and an additional fungicide spray was applied. Left untreated, alternaria late blight attacks the fruit and the leaves. The fruit becomes unmarketable.
Blackwell, a respected leader in the California pistachio industry, served as chairman of the California Pistachio Commission for four years in the early 2000s. Last year, Blackwell served as the Western Pistachio Association’s (WPA) Chairman of the Board. The WPA changed its name to the American Pistachio Growers in July.
Second generation pistachio grower Larry Wilkinson, 37, owner, J. Poonian Limited Partnership, Delano, grows 400 acres of pistachios, plus Navel oranges and mandarins.
Wilkinson’s pistachio production this year averaged 3,400 pounds per acre with excellent nut quality and kernel size.
Like Blackwell, alternaria late blight was an issue on Wilkinson’s farm. Wilkinson applied five fungicide sprays instead of the usual three sprays. Among the fungicides applied were the products Switch, Quash, and Pristine.
Some California pistachio growers have planted more acres to pistachio in recent years or plan to do so in the near future. A large planting spike occurred in 2007 and again in 2010 and 2011. Trees take about seven years to come into production.
Uncertain at this point is whether too many trees, or not enough, have been planted to meet the future global consumer demand for pistachios. Wilkinson has no immediate plans to increase pistachio acreage.
“I think we’re overplanted,” Wilkinson said. “We’ll find out in seven years.”
Meridian Nut Growers, a pistachio grower and processor based in Clovis, Calif. and owned by A & P Growers Cooperative, farms about 4,000 acres of pistachios and 2,000 acres of almonds in California.
Managing partner Jim Zion reported larger nut production this year; about two-thirds in the large range with the balance as extra large nuts (18 per 20 size).