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

Alan, we Spaniards love beer, we normally drink it before lunch, or before dinner, or when we are having drinks with friends.
When we eat or have dinner we prefer wine.
We are big beer consumers , but Americans also like a good cold Budweiser.



Actually it is craft breweries that are cutting into Budweiser’s market share. Bud bores my palate- I’m not a fan of lagers, least of all, those produced by big American breweries. I have been drinking pilsners, of late, because I’m trying to keep down my alc intake, even though I only drink a single bottle, which I do most every night, unless I’m drinking wine with my wife.


Few years back I was going to plant a couple here on the east coast just to see how they do. When I went looking for them there is like only two nurseries that carry them and they are always out of stock.

I’m one of the few people growing almond on the east coast. So far it just looks like fighting more brown rot, but it can be done. I think the the pistachio would give me crop some years, but most likely it’s another crop to spray for fungal diseases. I think it’s fun to waste a little land to do experiments with though.

By the way, pistachio has been spotted growing wild in Utah and several other western states. They have a wide growing range, but will it fruit in all those ranges?


Thanks very much Jose! It seems to me the overall structure suggested here is quite similar to the “open center” that is used for stone fruit, except that the main trunk is allowed to get taller. Or would you say there are some important differences for pistachios?

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Ok, thank you

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I’ve probably shared this before but why not again?

There are 2 small clusters of pistachio trees in far northern Utah that have supposedly been growing since the late 1970s when they were planted by Iranian students at the university. They are on the top of a south facing hill that gets no additional irrigation and have perhaps survived -25F or colder over the last 40+ years.

I don’t know the variety but they are pink, smallish and tasty. I’ve shared the nuts with members here, particularly @PaulinKansas6b who is growing a bunch out.

My questions:

  1. What is a practical way to get the seed coat off other than one-by-one by hand? And to crack the nut open for consumption?
  2. Do you need different varieties to pollinate one another or just male/female of the same variety?
  3. Will the pistachio nuts grow out true or close to the parents? Is it worth growing the put into trees?
  4. Germination seems easy. I’ve planted the seed inside or the whole nut both with and without cold stratification. When I grow the nuts out, how do you determine the sex? Or put another way, what is the best method to propagate these into a few dozen seedlings?

I’m not really interested in growing them but do find the info valuable. Thanks for posting! Very interesting how you do it there. Very cool to see.
When California first started growing pistachios they were big but not very tasty. I stuck to middle eastern as they are readily available
I didn’t try California pistachios for years.
When I tried them again I was blown away at the improvement in flavor! The nuts are still aromatic, just excellent. Flavor is excellent.
These would be hard to beat. almost all shells are open. Less than one percent are closed. Depends what time of year and what company distributes the nuts. Some have better products. Sams Club offers a large bag and the quality is grade A. Many uses here for seconds and lower grade product. I love pistachio ice cream too. Some very good products sold here.
I really enjoy them and probably consume too many.

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In my (limited) experience with pistachios from my own young trees, the skin cracks open along the long edge of the nut inside while still remaining soft and pliable, and almost falls off by itself. I imagine simply rolling them back and forth on a surface or against each other would do a good job of removing the skin. But in the picture your posted the skin looks much more desiccated and adhered to the shell underneath. Maybe that’s a characteristic of the trees you mention, which are likely seedling varieties. Maybe some environmental influence as well?

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Hi guys.
Forgive me for not answering your questions, but I have just posted a tutorial on grafting pistachio with cuttings in a state of winter dormancy.

Tomorrow I will answer everything



I recommend that you take a look at the tutorial, for very obvious reasons.

The “typical” pistachio grafting system is the T bud system in the vegetative state, but North American hobbyists do not have access to short-cycle (very early maturing) pistachio varieties.

  • Being able to graft very early maturing varieties, which are suitable for American states with not very long summers

  • Possibility of sending grafting material in good condition to North American hobbyists, since the graft cuttings in a vegetative state only have one day of useful life (the grafters carry beach coolers with ice and the cuttings when grafting in the field in the month of July )

In summary, the system allows the useful life of the grafting cuttings, since it is carried out with cuttings in a state of winter dormancy.


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I sure appreciated you sharing with me! I am no expert, just learning as i go. But i think the seedlings should come close to similar to parents. And i believe you just need some males and females of these seedlings for production. I imagine that is how it works in their native range like pecans.
To determine sex, i amassuming we have to wait until they flower.
It is a long term thing.
I imagine, if nothing else we could use some for rootstock to graft the obes that produce best on, or get some scion of the improved ones that Utah University is growing, maybe they will release them within a decade? Or graft some Kermit and Peters on some to try.
Since these do not naturally split, they will be harder to eat i guess, but i dont have ideas thought up yet.
But yeah i still think they present options.

Hi Paul.
Don’t worry, we’re just getting started.
My idea is to explain to de forum people absolutely everything , so that you don’t screw up.
For example:
Buying pistachio plants grafted on Ucb-1 or Platinum, which are the rootstocks used in the large plantations in California, for amateurs, makes very little sense, since they make trees of gigantic dimensions, and it is not comfortable at all , not even for to prune it, nor to carry out treatments if necessary or to harvest it.
It is infinitely better to use less vigorous rootstock.
I recommend the pistacea terebinthus as rootstock (I don’t think you will find it in the United States), but it is totally feasible to buy selected pistacea terebinthus seeds in Spain (they are very cheap), and germinate your own rootstocks.
In Spain there are companies specialized in forest seeds, and they have pistacea terebinthus seeds (selection from Eastern Andalusia), which is a subspecies of rapid growth and very homogeneous harvests.
This rootstock adapts to most soils (it supports high and low Ph), heavy and clay soils, fertile soils, it is a rootstock that is tremendously resistant to winter cold, and can be grown in strict dry land, without a drop of water irrigation.
And the most important .
It generates medium-sized trees that are extremely easy to work with.
About the size of a peach or nectarine tree.

That is why it is very important for you to have all the necessary information before embarking on an adventure that ends in failure.
So first of all, you have to read a lot of Jose-Albacete hahahaha.
There are many questions that the colleagues on the forum ask me in previous messages, to which tomorrow, which is my day off, I will respond in depth.



Thank you for sharing! We can all appreciate your tips and ideas you share!

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Hi guys.
Rauf presents us with a couple of absolutely essential issues in pistachio cultivation.
Let’s see .
A nursery must perfectly specify both the grafted variety and the rootstock on the plant.
An example of a nursery that has pistachios in the United States at exorbitant prices

This is absolutely abusive, since a pistachio plant grafted in any specialized Spanish nursery costs 9 euros (9.58 American dollars).
That is why for those of you who are in climates suitable for growing pistachio, it is much more interesting to buy certified seeds in Spain (there are seeds of all types of rootstock, including Ucb-1 authorized by U.C. Davis), the price of the seeds is very cheap, and you can get your own rootstocks.

www_viverosdepistachocsr.es.en.pdf (647.4 KB)

Regarding graft cuttings, in the United States you can get cuttings of the most planted varieties planted in California:


  • Kerman
  • Golden Hills
  • Lost Hills
  • Gumdrop


  • Randy
  • Peters
  • Tejon

This nursery has scionwood of female Kerman and male Peters for grafting

But paying more than 15 dollars for a grafted pistachio plant is truly outrageous.

Rauf, since we do not know if you bought grafted plants, rootstocks, male varieties or female varieties, it would be very interesting if you could send me photographs of your flowering trees, so that I can at least identify if they are grafted plants and if they are male or female varieties .

As it is an absolutely crucial topic, today we will talk about the flowering of the pistachio and its pollination.

Identification of male and female pistachio flowers

  • Flowering of male varieties (images), regardless of the variety of male pistachio, the flower of all varieties have the same visual appearance, this:

  • Flowering of female varieties (images), regardless of the female pistachio variety, the flower of all varieties have the same visual appearance, this:

hembra flor

Visual difference between male and female flower (left male, right female)

Once we can perfectly identify the flowering of males and females, we are going to focus on the issue of pollination.

I will start by saying that pistachio pollen is very very heavy, and pollinating insects do not help, since they are only attracted to the male flowering, and do not approach the female flowers, so pollination is carried out only for the wind .

That said, the ideal ratio of male trees to female trees for good pollination is 1 male for every 8 or 10 females.

Very important:
Any male variety will adequately pollinate any female variety as long as their flowering is synchronized (they bloom at the same time).

And we will see a pistachio pollination chart, which is very explanatory since the most cultivated varieties in the United States and some other varieties appear.

Pistachio pollination chart

I will take a short break (it’s my day off from work), and this afternoon I will continue



What rootstock are your trees grafted on?
Is there any dwarfing rootstock for pistacia vera?
What is the percentage of blank/empty nuts?
What is the earliest-ripening variety?

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Hi Bill.
That’s how I like it, very clear and concise questions.

Your first question is about what rootstock my pistachio varieties are grafted on, and they are grafted on Pistacea Terebinthus, it is a rootstock that produces medium-sized trees, fast growing and rapid entry into production (4th year), and its great advantage against to the other rootstocks is its tremendous adaptation for cultivation in strict dryland conditions, without absolutely any irrigation (if irrigated, the quality of the fruit, the number of open fruits and productivity increases), but it allows its cultivation giving good harvests without no type of irrigation.
Currently, more vigorous subspecies of pistacea terebinthus (origin from Eastern Andalusia) have been selected, which develop larger trees, maintaining the characteristics of this rootstock.

Your second question is about what would be the most dwarfing rootstock for pistachio, and I consider that the most dwarfing is pistacea Lentiscus

The third question is the percentage of empty fruits and that depends on the variety and whether the crop is grown in dry or irrigated conditions, but I am going to give you a chart that indicates a lot of data about quite a few varieties.
I can’t translate it, but it’s very easy to interpret.

The chart

  • First column is the name of the variety
  • Second column indicates the size of the fruit, large , medium , and small .
  • Third column, indicates the shape of the fruit, round, oval or elongated
  • Fourth column, indicates the yield, fruit/shell (high, medium, or low)
  • Fifth column, indicates the percentage of empty fruits (high is many empty fruits, medium, or low)
  • Sixth column indicates dehiscence (percentage of open fruits), high is many open fruits, medium or low
  • Sixth column, indicates the vigor of the variety, high is a very vigorous variety, medium, or low
  • Seventh column, indicates the flowering period, early, medium or late
  • Eighth column, indicates the juvenile period, and refers to its rapid or slow entry into production, short indicates rapid entry into production, medium, or long
  • Ninth column, indicates the productivity of the variety, high is very productive, medium or low productivity
  • Tenth column, indicates the veceria (tendency to alternate crops, one year produces a lot of fruit and the next year produces little), High indicates a lot of tendency to alternate crops, medium, or low

And your last question is which variety has the earliest harvest.
For this we will take as a reference value the most planted variety in the United States, which is Kerman, which has its ripening date approximately on October 12. In this table you will see the dates of earlier harvest varieties such as Avidon 6 de Septiembre or Mateur September 16

The new varieties obtained in the United States mature much earlier.

  • Lost Hills, late August
  • Golden Hill, end of August
  • Gumdrop, early-mid August.



Third day of drying of the pistachios in the sun, and they have already eliminated a large amount of moisture.
This is one of the 4 meshes where the pistachios are being dried, and I estimate that in a week they will be ready to be salted in brine and roasted.
You will be able to see the entire process.