The quality of the 2013 pistachio crop could also suffer from water shortages. Pistachio trees can survive without the full 3 to 3.5 acre-feet of water needed to produce a crop. However, water-shorted trees tend to produce more closed shells and more early splits, Anzaldo says. “That can also lead to more NOW damage. So, we’re encouraging growers to spray more often than usual this year and to harvest early.”

Growers who normally treat their orchards once a season for NOW may end up spraying two or three times to minimize insect damage.

Above-average spring temperatures coupled with short water supplies also shortened the nut expansion growth phase has led to smaller nuts than usual.

“I don’t know if this year’s pistachios are the smallest ever,” Anzaldo says. “But, they’re definitely smaller than average.”

Nut size of pistachios historically average 22 nuts per ounce. In the past three years, the trees have produced large nuts, averaging about 20.5 nuts per ounce, he notes. The 2007 crop had the smallest size of 24 nuts per ounce. Anzaldo is guessing nut size of the 2013 crop will end up about 23 nuts per ounce.

He anticipates an early start to harvest this year. In 2012, most growers began shaking their trees from the first week of September. With the crop maturing much faster than normal, growers could begin harvesting the 2013 crop in the last week of August.

“Then,” Anzaldo says, “It will be a race to get the crop off before it suffers any NOW damage.”

This report is from Tree Nut Farm Press, a twice-monthly electronic newsletter published by Western Farm Press during the growing season. If you would like to receive Tree Nut Farm Press, see here for sign-up.


More from Western Farm Press

Agriculture waiting on Silicon Valley moment

Peaches should not go crunch

Brad Kelley, the farm boy with 1 million acres

Arizona dairyman shakes up cow ration with ‘feed beets’

Drones and pesticide spraying a promising partnership