At mid-June, the pistachio crop developing on Huntley-Moore Farms’ orchards in Fresno County was running several days later than usual, but that hadn’t diminished Steve Moore’s anticipation of a respectable nut crop at harvest in September.
“The trees look really great,” he says. “Although it’s an on year, production will probably be a little lower than last year. But, we still expect a good crop.”
In 2011’s off-year, Moore’s trees averaged a very good 5,452 pounds per acre, with large nuts, a high percentage of splits, and little insect damage.
Huntley-Moore Farms’ 1,200 acres of orchards include pistachios and almonds on the West Side of the San Joaquin Valley.The farming operation dates back to 1980, when Moore and his partner purchased 160 acres, which they leased to a local grower for wheat and tomatoes. They put in their first pistachio trees in 1982 after verticilium-wilt resistant rootstock became available. That summer they grafted Kerman buds onto Pioneer Gold No. 1 rootstock from Pioneer Nursery, which they had planted early that year on 160 acres.
In 2008, a new variety was added when Golden Hills, developed by University of California breeders, was grafted onto UCB-1 rootstock. “That’s the new kid on the block,” Moore says.
Like most West Side farmers, Moore irrigates his trees with a combination of federal Central Valley Project water and groundwater. A series of pumps, filters and valves blends water from the two sources and distributes it through a drip line system.