Within the next month or so, pistachio grower Tom Coleman will learn just how much some seedlings he planted early last summer near Tranquility suffered from a late November freeze.
“There seems to be a fair amount of damage,” says the Fresno, Calif. grower. “I hope some of the trees will push back.”
Coleman did his best to protect them in advance of plunging temperatures. He cut off the water very early, in late August, and in late October he sprayed the trees with zinc sulfate to defoliate them.
“We did everything we could to shut them down,” says the former nurseryman. “But, that’s very difficult when the trees are young and growing vigorously. We still had some trees that didn’t shut down at all.”
Still, Coleman is optimistic about prospects this year for his 500 acres of producing trees. Soil moisture is pretty high. The trees look quite good, and he’s counting plenty of buds.
“This should be another good crop year,” he says.
Four years from now, he expects to be producing the first crop of nuts from the 240 acres of Golden Hills he planted last year. Developed by the University of California, the variety matures earlier than Kerman.
So far, he’s been pleased with their performance. “They’re all on UCB rootstock and look excellent. They seem to have very good vigor.”
He also likes their upright growth pattern, which should make it easier to train and shape them as well as to harvest the nuts.
“With pistachios trees, the more upright the branches the more they vibrate when you shake the tree,” Coleman says. “As a result the nuts come off better.”
Both the Golden Hills and the other new University of California variety, Lost Hills, seem to be more upright than Kerman, he adds.