The almond is a member of the rose family (Rosaceae), including many well-known fruit trees. Numerous varieties range from small ornamental shrubs (Prunus glandulosa) planted solely for their attractive blooms to medium-sized trees that produce edible nuts. Growing almond trees and harvesting their nuts is not difficult if you have a suitable environment and a few key strategies.
How to Care Almond
When cultivated in an area with scorching summers and low humidity, the almond tree yields the best crop of nuts. Because the almond nut matures in 7 to 8 months, it’s also vital to have a long growing season free of frosts. Frost in the spring can harm Flowers.
Because of these factors, almond nut production in the United States is concentrated in California. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to pruning an almond tree. On the other hand, maintenance pruning is a fantastic idea to clean up and shape your tree’s canopy.
If you plant your almond tree in full sun, it will produce the most blooms (and, presumably, nuts).
Sandier soils are preferable over clayey soils because they allow for better drainage, so that the roots can reach deep into the soil, till it deeply.
Almond trees require moderate amounts of water.
In the spring, you fertilize an almond tree. The finest fertilizer is a balanced one. Apply this fertilizer to the tree’s drip line.
Growing and Harvesting Almond Nuts
The crop produced by almond trees is technically a stone fruit, not a nut (drupe). The almond fruit that grows on almond trees looks nothing like the almond you’ll eat later: Instead, you’re confronted with a leathery, green hull. A strong, light-colored shell lines the inside of the hull. This is the edible component of the shell, which we crack with a nutcracker. The brown seed (“nut”) that we eat is freed from the shell by cracking it.
Almonds come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The sweet almond (Prunus dulcis) is used in nut bowls and dessert recipes, but there is also a bitter almond (Prunus dulcis var. Amara) used to flavor liqueurs. Almond trees, like certain other edible fruit trees, are not self-fertile for the most part.
For pollination, you’ll need two or more cultivars, and they can’t just be any cultivars (flowering times have to line up). This is the most challenging aspect of raising almond trees for nut production. Your almond trees should be spaced 15 to 25 feet apart.
Selecting one of the self-fertile cultivars is a sensible strategy to avoid planting many cultivars for pollination. ‘Garden Prince,’ for example, is a self-pollinating almond tree that grows to be 10 to 12 feet tall but is only cold-hardy to zone 8.
When it comes to almonds, they give you a hint as to when they’re ready to be harvested: The hulls start to separate, revealing the familiar light-colored shell beneath. Harvest your almond nuts as soon as possible following this splitting because the exposed surface is now fair prey for both birds and insects.
For the home grower, tapping the branches with a pole is the easiest way to get the almonds from the tree. To make picking up the almonds easier, lay down a tarp ahead of time to catch them as they fall. The almonds must be dried correctly after harvesting, or they will grow moldy. There are various steps to drying:
Take out the hulls
Spread the nuts out in a thin layer (with the shells still on) on a drying surface. A table with the top replaced by a screen would be a perfect surface. To keep the birds away, cover them with BirdBlock mesh (available on Amazon). When it’s going to rain, cover them with a tarp.
- The only way to tell if the drying process is finished is to taste the “nuts.” Crack a handful of the shells to determine if the edible seeds within are hard or rubbery. If they’re still rubbery, they haven’t dried out. They are ready if they are difficult.
- Once you’ve concluded that your harvest has dried sufficiently, bring the remaining nuts indoors with their shells still on. They’ll last eight months if kept at room temperature.