New Mexico pistachio growers Adam and Danielle Kusmak, owners of Tularosa Pistachio Groves in Tularosa (Otero County), had an overall good growing year despite extreme freezing temperatures in early February. Temperatures dropped to 18 degrees Fahrenheit for two consecutive nights. Temperatures remained at or below 32 degrees for five consecutive days; much colder than usual.

“The nut quality was very good and the nut size was larger than last year,” Adam said. “The pollination was good on the buds which did not freeze.”

Danielle added, “We lost about 300 trees due to the cold temperatures. That is a seven-year (production) loss.”

The Kusmaks changed several management practices this year. Tree pruning was reduced. Due to rising fertilizer costs, less fertilizer was applied in each application but applications were applied more often.

“We changed to subsurface drip irrigation. This was an enormous booster for growth which helps develop the roots and tree canopy,” Adam said.

The Kusmak’s trees are planted in clay loam soil.

New Mexico has a small but growing pistachio industry with an estimated 300 acres statewide. The Kusmaks believe more acres will be planted.

“Growing pistachios in New Mexico has its advantages – fewer pest problems and less root rot,” Adam said. “The issue is finding the right tree variety for our mountain dry climate growing season. Temperatures reach 100 degrees in June and July and the nights cool off.”

cblake@farmpress.com