If you are curious about the growth and care of almond trees then you have landed on the right article.
Almonds come from the almond trees or Prunus dulcis.
The almond tree is a species of fruit that is native to the Middle Eastern countries and you might consider them nuts, they are typically a type of stone fruit, drupe.
Drupes are fruits make-up of an outer hull and a hard shell that contains the seed.
Other common drupes are peaches, cherries, and olives. However, with other drupes, you may be discarding the seeds, almonds are unique in that way.
This is because the seed is the only edible part of the almond fruit.
As one of the earliest flowering stones fruit, almonds have the added bonus of also being an ornamental flowering plant.
It can grow about 10 to 15 feet in height and is replete with fragrant pink or white flowers in the early spring.
Keep on reading to learn more about them.
Growing Conditions for Almond Trees
Almonds are sensitive plants and need specific conditions for their growth, which means it can be challenging to grow them.
The trees thrive in hot and dry conditions, thriving in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 7 and 9.
Moreover, they particularly enjoy areas that have long summers with hot, dry, and sunny weather, therefore, having a long growing season is great for their growth.
However, it is important to note that they also need a certain amount of cold temperatures about 200 to 400 hours per year at temperatures less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit to successfully break the dormancy.
This is why they are not well adapted to tropical climates.
Moreover, they do not tolerate wet soils and frosts, thus, you might often see them in areas like California and the East Coast.
Thus, while your trees are in other areas, frost can cause a problem for the early flowering almonds.
It is important to note that P. dolcis thrives best in the sun. Although they can also tolerate partial shade, they will not flower or fruit nearly as well as they will in full sunlight.
They also prefer the well-drained, deep, loamy type of soil, however, can also tolerate other types like poor soil as long as they are not wet or poorly draining.
Another important factor that contributes to their growth is rainfall, around 500 to 600 millimeters or 20 to 25 inches.
However, irrigation can also bring about good yields and well-filled nuts, although they will also survive less water.
Keep in mind that you should not water them around or near harvest time. Almonds trees are not self-pollinating, thus, cross-pollination with another variety can help with the production.
Planting Practices for Almond Trees
Just like every other plant, giving them the proper conditions is important for their growth and development.
It is important to note that almonds like to thrive at a healthy distance from their neighbors and should be around 15 to 20 feet or 4 to 6 meters apart.
Before planting your trees, you should make sure that the roots should be given thorough dosing with water.
Make sure before putting them to et them off to a good start.
Moreover, the place where you intend to put the plant should be deep and wide enough for the whole root system.
Give special attention to the taproot so that it does not bend out of shape.
Another important factor to keep in mind is that you should never tamper with the root system of almond trees.
Thus, avoid trimming or forcing into a hole that is not wide enough to accommodate its root system.
Make sure to handle the roots with care and spread out to prevent matting.
Also, plant them to the same depth they are growing at the nursery. This is the same for both bare-root plants and potted plants.
Firmly press the soil around the roots as you refill the hole.
Once you refill the hole, you should give it at least 2 buckets of water. At this point, you can also add fertilizer, however, it is best to wait till spring to fertilize if planting in fall.
Propagation of Almond Trees
There are different ways to propagate almond trees.
Let’s discuss them as follows:
By Root Grafts
You can propagate almonds by budding and this is one of the easiest and effective ways to grow them i.e. grafting.
Moreover, it ensures that they grow just like the parent tree.
A hardy rootstock help to give them tree resistance to soil-borne diseases and then you can graft the fruit-bearing branch onto the rootstock.
This makes them more resilient and grows much faster from the seed.
From the Nut
One of the most preferable ways to grow almond trees is to grow them from seed.
You can grow them if you already know that they can take a long time to bear fruit and nuts, however, they might not be of the same quality as that of the parent plant.
To grow them from seeds, you will need to soak for around 48 hours and place them on a wet towel in a plastic bag and place them in a refrigerator.
At least 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator will do the work and the almonds should start sprouting.
At this point, you can pot them in a well-drained soil mix which consists of sand and compost, and place them in direct sunlight.
Pruning your Trees
The process of pruning has different advantages at different stages of a tree’s life.
Pruning young trees determines their future shape and therefore, their productivity and the quality of the nuts it will produce.
Thus, it is important to make sure that you are giving it a good harvest.
Most often, gardeners prune them into a vase-type shape with 3 to 4 main branches which also allows the ease of harvesting.
If you carry out the procedure correctly, this shape makes the tree more vigorous, productive and guarantees a longer lifespan.
On the other hand, pruning after maturity is about maintaining the shape of the tree that you gave it in the early stages.
It helps to renew the tree and stimulates it to produce more.
About 20% of an older tree canopy should be pruned back each year.
Harvesting your Trees
It is one of the most fun times and you can also do it easily.
As the almonds are safe in their shell,s all it takes is a handshake to make them fall to the ground where you can gather them.
Pro Tip: Gardeners often shade the tree over a sheet so that they can easily collect the nuts later.
You can do so as well.
Moreover, you will know if they are ripe when the hulls start to split open. However, if you wait about three-quarters of the nuts to start to split, you can harvest them.
It is important to note that before consuming them, you should dry them. You can do this by leaving them on the ground for a few days after shaking them or storing them somewhere cool and dry.
The average healthy and mature almond tree can produce about 3 mendous 50 to 65 pounds or 23 to 30 kgs of nuts.
Pest and Disease Almond Trees may Suffer from
There are a number of diseases the almond trees can suffer from.
Moreover, they are especially susceptible to suffer from soil-borne diseases like fungal disease Verticillium wilt.
Thus, you can avoid this disease with the help of grafting techniques. You can graft the specimen with a hardy root stock of peach or bitter almond.
It is also important to not over irrigate it as this is the condition where this disease thrives most.
Additionally, fungal infections can also cause hull rot and there are mitigation techniques for such conditions.
Other than fungal disease, they can also suffer from bacterial infections like crown gall.
This can get into the tree through cuts, therefore, you should always take care not to damage the tree.
While pruning, it is always good to cut the branches with clean, and disinfect the equipment.
Moreover, almonds can also have issues with mites like brown mites and red European mites. They can stress the tree out and can cause damage to the leaves.
Most often, you can get rid of them with the help of pesticides.
The most important factor to consider while growing trees is the growing condition and hardiness zone you are living in.
Another important thing to consider is to make sure you are buying sweet almonds if you want to eat the nuts.
On the other hand, if you want to grow them for aesthetic reasons, you can choose to grow bitter almond trees.
There are limited standard varieties of almond trees you can choose from.
Carmel gives an excellent, well-produced nut and is also an excellent pollenizer.
On the other hand, Mission while being a late bloomer is a productive tree.
In most cases, however, most gardeners choose the All-in-One type in your backyard as it grows half the size of a standard tree.
Thus, making it ideal where the spaces are tighter like home orchards.
You can choose to grow Almond trees to get the fruit or for ornamental purposes making it a relative of different well-known fruit trees. There are a number of types and they often range in shape and sizes as well as the nuts.
It is not difficult to grow almonds and harvest them as long as you have the right climate and understand the critical growing tips.