A favorite of plant based and dieters, almonds have become one of the most popular everyday snacks. Farmers and small time growers everywhere are seeing major profits growing almonds. Almonds were brought to California in the 1840’s. Almond trees thrive in mild wet winters and hot dry summers with full sun.
How to Prepare for Growing
Selecting a Variety
- Mission/Texas Mission – Tolerant to most soil types. The almond variety produces later than most and has a short nut.
- Carmel – A popular choice for homeowners. Carmel is a smaller variety of almonds, so this can be ideal for someone limited on space.
- Neplus Ultra - This almond variety is ready for harvest around August or September. The nut is long and has a softer shell than most almond varieties.
- Garden Prince – A dwarf variety of almond. Due to its size and self-pollination abilities, this is great variety for homeowners with limited space for only one tee.
Deciding Whether to Grow Indoor vs. Outdoor
Almond trees thrive in hot and dry climates. In the US, Central California is a prime location for almond growing as well as some parts of Arizona, Texas, and Georgia. Almond trees can be grown inside as well, as long as there are proper pot sizes that can hold 10 – 20 gallons of potting soil.
Almonds require well-drained sandy soils for healthy growth. Too muddy of soil can be salvaged by adding compost and sandy loam soil. In addition to well-drained soil, almond trees can grow well with a pH ranging from 5.5 - 8.5, although, a pH of 6.5-8 is best.
Planting How To
When planting a transplant almond tree it is important to avoid moving the tree during its growing season. Only move it in the early spring while the tree is still in dormancy. Branches should be pruned back about 25% of their length. Almond tree roots need to be soaked a day prior to transplanting to make root mass easier to dig up. Break up the soil and dig a planting hole for a tree that is at least two times wider than the root ball’s diameter. Back fill the planting hole and firm the soil around the root ball to prevent air pockets. While watering the soil, observe if the there is any soil settlement. If so add more soil as needed.
There are two types of pruning cuts: thinning and heading cuts.
- Thinning cuts
- Severe limbs at the point of origin from the parent limb
- Heading cuts
- Buds concentrated at shoot tips are removed, thereby stimulating other buds
Pruning should occur after the first growing season. To start select upright branches with wide angles. Of those branches choose four to five primary scaffolds to remain on the tree and proceed to prune out the dead broken branches and limbs growing toward the center of the tree. The last step would be to prune out any crossing limbs.
Almonds can take years to bear fresh almonds. This wait period can last anywhere from five to twelve years.
Almonds require a lot of water. It is recommended to water trees in the morning when temperatures are cool. The best technique is to water trees closer to the ground, such as with a drip irrigation system.
Almond trees need to be watered three to four inches for every two weeks from June through August. September to October, trees require 2-2.5 inches of water bi-weekly. Finally, November to December, tree needs drop to just ½ -1 inch of water bi-weekly. For this reason, its best to avoid watering trees in the winter unless a dry winter is forecasted in the area.
Almonds trees require full sunlight, about 7 – 8 hours of sunlight. If growing indoors, the tree needs to be placed near a window where it can receive sunlight. If natural light is insufficient an artificial light can be used.
How to Care for Your Plant
Primary Plant Nutrients
Nitrogen: Nitrogen helps with promoting strong early growth.
Phosphorous: Phosphorous helps building healthy roots as well as with early fruit maturity.
Potassium: Potassium helps encourages root growth and increases resistance to diseases. Potassium is essential for flower and fruit growth.
Secondary Plant Nutrients
Calcium: Calcium helps with plant growth by serving an important role of cell wall structure and must be present for the formation of new cells.
Magnesium: Magnesium is a central component of chlorophyll, the molecule responsible for giving plants their green color.
Sulfur: Sulfur serves as a constituent of three amino acids: cysteine, methionine, and cysteine. Sulfur is essential for nodule formation.
Boron: Boron contributes to the flowering and ripening of the fruit.
Iron: Iron is required for the formation of chlorophyll, which gives plants their green color. Iron also serves as an activator of biochemical process such as cellular respiration and photosynthesis.
Manganese: Manganese is a key factor in photosynthesis by assisting iron in chlorophyll formation.
Zinc: Zinc is vital in several enzymes. For example, zinc controls the synthesis of indole acetic acid, an important plant growth regulator.
Copper: Copper influences numerous enzymatic processes and is an important component in chlorophyll.
Molybdenum: Molybdenum is a component of nitrate-reductase and nitrogenize enzymes. Without molybdenum, plants cannot transform nitrate nitrogen into amino acids.
In the winter months it is important to prune trees in December or January. This allows more sunlight and promotes new fruiting in the tree. Be sure to remove dead, diseased branches as well as old nuts trees and on the ground to prevent possible infection. Trees should be sprayed with dormant oil to reduce the population of peach twig borer, San Jose scale, and mite eggs.
From August to October, mechanical tree shakers are used to shake the tree. Almonds dry naturally for 7-10 days before being swept into rows by a sweeper machine. Almonds are then swept into rows and picked up for processing.
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