The pistachio (pistacia vera), a high desert tree, originated in western Asia and Asia Minor, made its way into Mediterranean Europe and now thrives in the dry climates of suitable areas of inland Australia.
To grow and bear fruit they require very hot summers (more than 600 hours >30C); very cold winters (more than 1,000 hours Summer and autumn rains may induce fungal problems and harvest difficulties.
Pistachio trees grow best and produce the most nuts in an arid semi-desert climate with long, dry, hot summers, low humidity and cool but not frigid winters. During the growing season, pistachio trees thrive on heat. Summer temperatures of around 37 degrees Celcius produce large quantities of the best nuts.
In pistachio, male and female flowers are produced on seperate trees. A female tree planted singly will not produce nuts unless a male tree is growing nearby. For the best chance of pollination, plant a male upwind of every 10 to 15 male trees.
Pistachio orchards are planted in areas with frequent but mild spring winds to pollinate the blossoms. After shedding their leaves in the fall, pistachio trees need a winter dormancy period of about 6 weeks with temperatures below 7.2 degrees Celcius.
A good summary of growing pistachios under Australian conditions is in the book: “A Handbook for Farmers and Investors”, published by the Rural Industries Development Corporation: Pistachios
Another excellent source of information is the University of Californian Fruit and Nut Research Information Centre’s on-line manual:
Pistachio Production Manual, 4th edition, 2005
The California Pistachio Research Board published the Good Agricultural Practices Manual, Guidelines for California Pistachio Growers in 2009, again a good source of information. The manual can be downloaded here: GAP_for_Pistachio_Growers
Nurseries that supply grafted pistachio trees (male and female):
(5 mins across the border from Mildura)
03 5024 8502 (International 613 5024 8502)
Fax: 03 5024 8551 (International 613 5024 8551)
Postal: PO Box 45 GOL GOL NSW 2738
Pistachio Nut Tree Nursery
“The Farm” Hooper Road, Grass Valley (via Northam)
Postal: PO Box 429 Northam WA 6401
Telephone Enquires: 08 9622 9513
Fax: 08 9622 9513
Mobile: 0428 181 689