Everything you always wanted to know about growing pistachios and no one told you

Hi guys, I think it is appropriate to open a thread specialized in pistachio cultivation.
As you know, I am from the Castilla la Mancha region in Spain (region very productive of pistachios).
In my region we have an official center for the study of pistachio cultivation called El Chaparrillo:


The technical director of the pistachio department at the El Chaparrillo center is José Francisco Couceiro López, with whom I have a very good relationship of friendship and access to his germplasm bank.

I currently have a collection of about 50-55 female varieties and 5 male cultivars (the most important).

Since I started growing pistachios about 20 years ago, I have a lot of experience and can answer all the questions you may have (rootstocks, varieties, soil-climatic requirements, pollination , chill hours , harvesting , skinning, drying, roasting, etc…)
I’m going to show you some photographs of some of the varieties that I will harvest this weekend (I harvested the earliest harvest varieties about 10 days ago).
In the photographs that you are going to see there are varieties such as Avdat, Batouri, Joley, Boundoki, Ashouri, Kallehgouchi, Siirt, Sirora, Larnaca, Aegina, but I have many many more varieties

Some photos

Fruits of the variety Batouri

You can ask any questions you have about this crop.



What low temperatures can these tolerate?

If one had the room, could they be grown in a container?

Could a male branch be grafted on to a female tree to self pollinate?

These are beautiful trees!

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Hi Beth.
It’s a pleasure to answer your questions (they are very simple questions)

The pistachio is an extremely tolerant crop with cold and heat, since it withstands very cold winter temperatures (-30º celsius, and if I’m not mistaken, it would be -22º Fahrenheit), and the pistachio tolerates very hot temperatures (50º celsius, or what is the same 122º farenheit)

Even using a less vigorous rootstock (like the ones you see in my photographs), which is pistacea terebinthus, they have very deep taproots and are not suitable for growing in pots, even in very large pots .

It can be done but it should not be done because this matter ends badly, since the male varieties are infinitely more vigorous than the female ones and if they are grafted at the same time the male variety ends up absorbing the female variety.
What you proposse, is done in the following way , the female variety is allowed to grow for about 4 years (tree formation period), and once the tree is formed, a male variety is grafted onto the end of a single tertiary branch of the female variety, in this way It pollinates perfectly, but it does not reduce the vigor to the tree with the female variety.



Thank you!

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I saw in one of the old pistachio posts here someone in zone 8 in the South was considering growing pistachio, but they haven’t been active here in years so I can’t ask them if they did and how it went.

Any idea on how pistachios do in humid climates? I’ve read toxic molds can be a real danger with them if the summers are wet. We have chinese pistach trees growing just fine as landscape trees, but I’ve never heard of anyone growing true pistachios.

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I crossed threads accidently.

@kokopelli5A commented in the other pistachio thread (though now I don’t recall what he said?) and this was my post.

“There are commercial pistachio orchards along the Rio Grande in NM. I visited one. I’m not sure if it was north or south of Alb.”

I’d love to try one here, but I don’t think it’s possible. Too humid in summer. Same with almonds I think, though you’d think since almonds are so close to peaches that there would be a few varieties that would stand a chance.

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Hello a_Vivaldi

Pistachio is an extra resistant crop, in my climate and with the right rootstock, it does not need irrigation, it does not have fungal diseases, and it has no pests, so it is tremendously easy to grow and very economically profitable for farmers, but my climate is very arid
In climates where there is a lot of humidity, they usually suffer from a fungal disease called septoria (fungus Septoria pistaciaru), botriosphere (fungus Botryosphaeria dothidea) and septoria (caused by the fungi Alternaria alternata, Alternaria tenuissima and Alternaria arborescens), all these diseases are spread through the air
For this reason, pistachio is a crop that needs dry climates.



Phil, the pistachio is infinitely more resistant to fungal diseases than the peach or almond tree.
If your climate allows you to grow peaches and you have more than 700 hours of winter cold, you can grow the adecuates varieties of pistachios.


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Unfortunately I can’t make the 700.

I was thinking since the outer layer of the almond is not soft fruit (compared to peach) that it would be less attractive to insects.

It’s been obvious for a long time that I live in the wrong place to be in love with idea of growing stone fruit…


How long do they take to fruit? Yours are dwarfing models right? I’m on the humid east coast, but wanted to experiment with them. Just like peaches I would expect good and bad years for rots.

There are very few pistachios grown in the US east of southern New Mexico. That’s because it’s too humid east of NM. And there are none grown commercially in areas colder than Alamogordo NM. Most winters Alamogordo doesn’t drop below 10F. In the US the only good areas are southern AZ and the central valleys of CA. They need long hot dry summers.

The ones in the store are often stained red. I think that’s to cover up the ugly staining caused by fall rain.

I think they could be grown just south of Alpine TX at ~2500 ft elevation rather than our 4500ft. That would be zone 8 with 10 inches of rain per year. Still it’s not ideal there because of summer and fall rains.


No Phil, I have friends growing stone fruit in much worse conditions than yours.
You just have to follow these three tips:

  • Choose a suitable rootstock (rootpac-r is ideal)
  • Choose the best low chill varieties (there are very good ones)
  • Carry out at least 3 winter treatments in winter with copper oxychloride, paraffin oil, and a little insecticide with ovicidal properties (two treatments in the middle of winter, when you don’t have frost and the last and most important, in the state of pink button ).

If you do this, you will grow good stone fruits.



I’m trying @Jose-Albacete

By the way, I left a message and an email with two different locations to Agromillora who has the license and distribution rights to Rootpac in the US.

No reply yet. I asked them about small volume retail sales and/or nurseries they supply that do.

I’ll reply if if I hear back from them.

Thanks for the spray advice. For things I don’t have experience in it’s nice to have someone tell you what to do. I follow instructions well.

PS. I’ve been meaning to comment since I joined the forum. I access this place from my phone. Every time I see your little photo I can’t help but to think of a young Danny DeVito. You may have heard this before…

Hi Robert.
The first good question.
There are quite a few rootstocks for pistachio, and the most used worldwide are 2:

  • UCB-1 (Pistacea Atlantica x Pistacea intergerrima)

  • Cornicabra (pistacea terebinthus)

UCB-1 is a rootstock developed by U.C. Davis, and the most used in the United States, it is tremendously vigorous and develops trees of enormous size, it is suitable for fertile lands, and it needs enormous quantities of water and fertilizers, it has the advantage of be resistant to Verticillium

Pistacea Terebinthus, has a lower vigor, and is ideal for very arid lands, it is characterized by being extremely resistant to drought (in my region the pistachio plantations are not irrigated), it is very resistant to fungal diseases and pests, as a drawback It is sensitive to Verticillium.

The pistachio bears fruit from the fourth year (minimum harvests), reaches its fullness in the tenth year, and after the tenth year its harvest increases by one kilo each year that passes.


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Yes Steven.
Pistachio is only suitable in very arid climates, with very cold winters and long, very hot and dry summers.
My region is like fucking Irak.



I’m familiar with Pistachio farms in California, some were once fertilizer customers. I’ve no idea what cultivars they grow. But do know that about 2/3 of them were in the southern half of the CA central valley in regions where temperatures rarely drop below 17°F / -8°C. There are other commercial orchards in the southern CA high desert where temperatures routinely hit 10°F / -12°C in the winter.

From my perspective a very cold winter means sustained temperatures below -10°F.


Hi Richard.
They are two different concepts.
The first, the minimum temperature that the pistachio plant supports, and it is very resistant, withstanding very hard frosts, and the second and most important concept is the requirement of hours of cold of each variety for good fruiting, and here the range oscillates between the varieties with a lower requirement of chilling hours, such as the varieties Avidon, Avdat, Mateur, Larnaca, with a requirement of about 600 chilling hours, to the varieties with a higher requirement, such as Kerman or Kastel, which need at least 1,100 hours of cold for good fruiting.

Both in the United States and in Spain, the most planted variety is the Iranian variety Kerman, which produces large-caliber pistachios and has a very light shell color, has a good level of dehiscence (open fruits), and the only drawback is that Kerman It is a variety with a lot of tendency to veceria (alternation of crops) producing a good harvest one year, and low harvest the following year , for this reason I prefer the Syrian Batouri variety, which has as much quality as Kerman, and has no tendency to alternate harvests



Great, now I am looking a pistachio trees…as impractical as it may be.


I must have misunderstood this. I thought you meant

Pistachio is only suitable in
very arid climates
very cold winters
long, very hot and dry summers.


@Jose-Albacete Have you tried growing Golden Hills pistachio? I have 3 of these trees (plus a ‘Randy’ male), but they are only ~3 years in the ground and not in very fertile soil. So they are only producing maybe 50 nuts each. They won’t be ripe for another few weeks.

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