As more research proves the benefits of the nut’s nutrition as well as its health benefits, there’s been an increase in almond milk, butter, confectioneries, snacks, and bars that have almonds in them.
Many people often confuse an almond nut tree with stone fruit, commonly referred to as the drupe. Drupes are fruits with an outer hull and hard shell that houses the seeds. Apricots, peaches, cherries, and plums are all part of the same family; however, the seeds are the only edible fruit containing almonds.
Almonds belong to the Rose family (Rosaceae), which makes them one of the relatives of many famous fruit trees. It is not too difficult to cultivate almonds and collect their nuts, provided you are in the right environment and have some vital cultivation tips. Many varieties of almonds range from small ornamental trees ( Prunus glandulosa) grown only for their attractive flowers to more giant trees producing edible nuts.
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How to Grow Almond Trees?
The almond tree can produce its most incredible amount of nuts when planted in a climate where the summer heat is high with little humidity. It is also essential to have a long growing season free of frosts because the almond nut requires seven to eight months to grow. The effects of a spring frost could be detrimental to the flower. Because of this, the almond nut production throughout the United States occurs mainly in California.
Almond Tree Planting Guide
If you are planning to add an almond tree to your backyard or garden, we recommend beginning with a propagated sapling. A majority of almond trees are self-fertile and require cross-pollination. The process of removing a sucker does not ensure that your new tree will bear nuts. An almond tree grafted onto high-quality rootstock is guaranteed to deliver nuts.
Almond trees have deep roots and are best planted in fertile, deep, and well-draining sandy loam. Almond trees must be planted between 19 and 26 feet (about 6-8 meters) from each other and watered even though they are drought-tolerant. The application of nitrogen, as well as organic fertilizer, can aid in growth. The almond trees are characterized by significant nitrogen and phosphorus demands.
To plant the almond tree, dig a hole more than the depth, ensure that the roots can fit into the hole’s depth, and then fill the hole with water. It may be necessary to stake your almond tree when your home is in a very windy zone, but take down the stakes once a year to allow the tree to have proper growth.
Growing trees like almonds is an easy process that does not require fancy equipment. It requires a sturdy shovel, preferably a circular pointed blade, and some muscles. Work gloves made of leather or gardening gloves are unnecessary; however, they will help avoid blisters and ensure clean hands when you backfill the hole for planting.
Soil Preparation for Almond Trees
The best almond soil is a sandy loam that is well-drained and fertile. Before planting, incorporate completely decomposed manure, or completed compost into the soil to the maximum depth you can and cover an area bigger than your planting hole. Organic material like this helps improve drainage and gives the soil an excellent boost of nutrients released slowly.
Planting Time for Almond Trees
If you are able, plant saplings late in winter or early spring, as the temperatures begin to rise. The soil must be warmed up, and all chances of frost gone prior to putting them into the soil. It is possible to plant almond trees in the fall, but you must try to allow them to adjust before the cold weather arrives.
Plant Spacing for Almond Trees
Many popular sweet almond cultivars don’t self-pollinate and require a neighboring tree with a different variety to cross-pollinate. So, the two trees have to be pretty close. However, almond trees have deep root systems and require a distance to ensure no resources and water are in check. Thus, it is recommended to plant almond trees between 19 and 26 feet from each other.
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Planting Instructions for Almond Trees
- If the soil is hard and dry, make sure to water it thoroughly at least a few days before the planting date to soften and allow planting to be more accessible.
- Almond trees are characterized by a long taproot, which requires ample space. So, dig a deep hole for planting using your shovel, about three times the size of the root ball and more than twice the depth.
- Place it on the side and by grabbing the root close to the edge of the dirt, gently remove the sapling as well as the root ball out of the pot.
- Make sure to rinse the soil from the roots as much as possible. The washing off the excess soil ensures that the roots are in good contact with soil inside the planting hole and aids in hydrating them prior to planting.
- Place the almond sapling in the hole so that the tree is the same height as it was inside the container. Its top in the container must be in line with the ground. Make sure not to break the taproot.
- Be sure to move the sapling’s roots into the middle of the hole.
- Fill the hole using the soil you removed earlier with the shovel or hands. Use your feet or hands as you move it to push air pockets away without compressing the root zone.
- Once the hole is full, make an elongated “well” where the soil is slightly sloped from the outside of the hole and into the trunk. This well collects water.
- Give your almond sapling a few gallons of water. Fill in the hole with the sapling, allowing the water to absorb the soil before adding additional. Watering the roots hydrates them and helps settle the soil within the hole for planting.
- AGRIKULTURE TODAY recommends placing a few inches of mulch over the ground at the bottom of the tree, preventing away from the trunk’s bark.
When you are buying the almond tree, it is essential to know that there are two types of almond trees such as bitter almonds as well as sweet almonds. Bitter almonds make beautiful ornamental flowers, but they do not produce nuts. The bitter almond tree is useful for bees because they are among the first trees that bloom in spring. The sweet almond tree is the kind that produces nuts.
There are a variety of almonds. The type used in dessert and nut bowl recipes is called the sweet almond (Prunus dulcis); however, there is a bitter almond (Prunus dulcis in var. Amara) utilized as an example to enhance certain liquors.
The most popular sweet almond cultivars include ‘All-In-One’ (a self-pollinating variety) and ‘Caramel’ Mission and Hall’s Hardy.’
Ideal Climate for Almond
Almonds are indigenous to the southwestern part of Asia and are highly sought-after in the Mediterranean region. They thrive in areas with dry, hot summers and mild winters; they can be found outdoors around the year, in USDA zones 7 to 9. They are mostly found in California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida However, within Zone 5, they can be grown in pots.
Trees are highly susceptible to frost following blooming and, therefore, when you live in areas that have late frost in the spring, you will have to plant them in containers before moving them into a shed or garage in the winter.
Harvesting of Almonds
Almonds can indicate when they are in the process of being harvested, When the hulls begin to split, leaving behind the familiar translucent shell. Don’t wait too long after the splitting process to gather the almonds, as the exposed shell will be an open game for insects and birds.
Almonds require between 6 and 8 months to mature. Therefore, they are usually harvested from commercial orchards from August to October. They are prepared for harvest once the hulls have split, and the shell is dry and then turns brown. AGRIKULTURE TODAY recommends waiting until three-quarters of the hulls are split before harvesting because the nuts will ripen more quickly when they are on the tree.
Technically, the fruit produced by almond trees isn’t an almond, but it is a stone fruit (drupe). Initially, the fruit on almond trees does not look anything like the almonds you consume. What appears is a smooth green hull. Inside, you will find an opaque, white shell. This shell is broken with a nutcracker to access the edible portion. The shell is cracked to release the kernel (“nut”), which we consume.
The most effective method of getting the almonds off the tree for the gardener at home is tapping the branches using poles. Set a tarp before the time to catch the almonds falling off the tree to make picking them up much more accessible.
The easiest method to harvest is to sit under the canopy and then shake it, being sure to cover your head. Let the fruit that fell dry for a few days; then, you can separate the hulls from the nuts. In this stage, you can put it into the fridge for a couple of days to remove any remaining bugs or bacteria.
After collecting the almonds, they should be adequately dried; otherwise, they could turn moldy. Drying involves a series of steps:
- First, get rid of the hulls.
- Spread the almond nuts (with the shells left in place) as a layer on a surface conducive to drying. The ideal surface is an old table with its top covered and replaced with screens. Cover the screen with BirdBlock net to keep birds from stealing their place. Protect them with a tarp whenever rain is forecast.
- The only way of knowing that drying has been completed is to taste”nuts. Crack the shells of handfuls to determine if the seeds inside are soft or rubbery. If they are elastic, they aren’t completely dried out. If they are firm, then they are prepared.
- If you are satisfied that your crop has dried enough, take the remainder of the nuts in their shells on the inside.
- Nuts stored at room temperature can last for eight months.
Tips for Growing Almonds
- Trees benefit from more water during the spring and early summer when the blossoms are bursting as well as flowering and setting “fruit.”
- The mulching around the bottom assists in retaining soil moisture and stops weeds from sprouting out at the base of the tree.
- Around a week or so prior to harvest, stop watering your almond trees so that the fruit will dry to acceptable water content.
- After harvesting, shake the trees with a sheet or tarp to make the process of collecting the nuts much more effortless.
- If the space in your backyard garden is limited and you want to grow two almond trees, you could plant them in the same spot. When they mature, the trees become interspersed, causing the plants to cross-pollinate.
- If pollination is poor or ineffective, you can employ a paintbrush to transfer pollen from flowers on one branch to the next and reverse.
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Care for an Almond Tree
If you search for the best tree to produce nuts, almonds are a great choice. One tree can yield between 50-65 pounds of nuts every year. Be aware; however, it generally requires a tree for at the very least five years after planting to produce nuts. A tree must have between 200 to 400 hours at 45 degrees Fahrenheit (during one winter) to break the dormancy of its buds.
In the majority of cases, almond trees are not self-fertile. However, some trees produce edible fruits. You will require 2 or 3 cultivars to pollinate, and they shouldn’t be any cultivar (flowering times need to match with each other). This is perhaps the most challenging aspect of cultivating almond trees to produce the production of nuts. Place your almonds between 15 and 25 feet away from each other.
A practical option to avoid planting diverse cultivars for pollination is to choose one of the self-fertile types. For instance, ‘Garden Prince is a self-pollinating variety of almond tree which grows about 10-12 feet tall. It’s cold-hardy up to zone 8. However, it is cold-hardy to zone 8.
Almond trees love the full sunlight. It requires about six hours of direct sunshine each day. However, they grow best when they receive an average of 8 hours of sun per day. So plant your almond tree in a place that will get the most feasible direct sunlight.
Almond farmers are often criticized for the quantity of water used. In reality, almonds require a lot of water, particularly in the first two years of drought-sensitive trees. In the spring and summer, provide young trees with between 2 to 3 water each day. Mature trees require this every week. In July, we recommend cutting the amount to one inch.
Young trees need nitrogen continuously, so you should fertilize them in spring using organic, balanced fertilizer for fruit trees before applying small amounts of nitrogen (urea is an excellent choice) throughout this growing period. After the first few years, apply fertilizer; once the tree goes into dormancy, it will be applied again from early to mid-fall.
It is recommended to trim around 20 percent of your canopy every year to increase airflow and light within the canopy, encouraging good growth. Pruning should be performed during the winter months when the trees are dormant (December and January). Also, take out suckers that have popped out in the tree’s trunk. Remove dead or diseased branches of your almond tree at any time during the year.
Pest and Disease Management
Pay attention to your almond tree for pests or insects that are notorious and viral or bacterial diseases. Almond trees are prone to navel orangeworm and peach twig borer scale as well as mites. They also face issues with Verticillium wilt as well as crown gall and the fungus that causes shot holes. If you notice any issues, treat them immediately to avoid them from spreading to others or decreasing yield.
Maintaining your tree’s condition will reduce the risk of diseases and insects. When you are trimming or mowing trees, take care not to cause damage to the base of the tree with the landscaping equipment. The majority of illnesses enter the tree through wounds within the bark.