Many industry observers are predicting a record 600-million pound California pistachio crop, but on an individual farm basis it may about average as in Tom Coleman’s pistachio orchards. Coleman Farming Co. in Fresno owns 900 acres of orchards and manages another 3,000 in Madera and Fresno counties. The trees range in age from first leaf to 27 years.

Following a good size crop last year, Coleman says he expects his 2012 production will be no more than average.

“As has been the case for the last several years, there’s a lot of variability among the trees this year,” he says. “Some have a heavy crop, while just a short distance away others have virtually no crop.”

He attributes this to frost damage in low areas of his fields several years ago, which induced an alternate bearing cycle within the orchards.

Last spring he sprayed for botrysphaeria and botrytris in orchards with a history of the fungal diseases; other than that, diseases haven’t been a threat this season.

Arizona pistachio grower Steve Seplak is looking for a bigger crop this season.

“In 2010 we had a bumper crop,” he says. “The trees put all their energy into producing nuts, and that left little for growth last year.”

This season, because of the number of nuts forming, he’s expecting much better from his orchard. “I’m thinking of typical on-year yields, somewhere between 3,000 to 3,500 pounds per acre,” he says.

Seplak who farms in Willcox, Ariz., is a member of the American Pistachio Growers director and president of the Arizona Pistachio Association, owns SAS-Z Nuts.

“The pistachio trees are about a month ahead of normal,” he says.

This year, kernels started the month-long hardening process in mid-June. “The nuts are looking really good,” Seplak says. “So far, we haven’t had much insect activity. Thus far I haven’t seen any damage on the nuts — maybe the weather has been too dry and the bugs haven’t hatched out yet.”