It’s been said among farmers that, while some crops are grown for your family, pistachio trees are grown for your grandchildren. Since it takes five to seven years for an orchard to produce a saleable crop, and because pistachio trees have a very long lifespan, they’re planted with the next generation of farmers in mind, and generations after that. An orchard is a living legacy.
Consequently, American Pistachio Growers take great care to maintain the land and its environment so their orchard and the ecosystem around it will thrive well into future generations.
As any hobby gardener knows, plants need proper nutrition and harmful pests must be controlled. American Pistachio Growers are very invested in research with leading universities, partnering to constantly improve both the quality of their product and the environment in which we live.
Pistachio orchards are not a primary attractant for most leaf, tree and nut-eating insects found in some other crops. In nature, beneficial insects help to control the damaging pests. It’s important to maintain a healthy balance of beneficial insects to control those pests. Therefore, advanced monitoring techniques are used to assure the proper balance is in place and when necessary, approved pest control measures are employed to bring the orchard back into balance.
Nutrient requirements of pistachio trees are closely monitored throughout the season. Using advanced direct irrigation practices and foliar feeding of the plants, each nut produced is provided the proper diet to assure a consistent, quality nut with every bite.
In California, Arizona and New Mexico, water is the most precious natural resource. Issues with water include drought, the high cost of water, legislation limiting water, and an ever-increasing need for more of it to be diverted to high-population urban centers.
Fortunately, the pistachio rootstock grown in the USA is relatively drought-tolerant compared to many other agricultural crops. APG growers employ the most advanced technologies in direct irrigation, ensuring every drop is used wisely while properly feeding the tree for maximum quality.
A common issue in the American West—particularly where water is limited—is the high saline content in the soil, which has historically prevented any agricultural activity. In these semi-desert areas, the high levels of naturally occurring saline can render a stark, bleak landscape where nothing grows. The trees our members grow in California, Arizona and New Mexico not only tolerate, but do well in most of these soils. Today, young plantings of hundreds of acres of pistachio orchards now beautify this otherwise unused land, providing bird and wildlife habitats and a multitude of environmental benefits.
APG growers, in a continuing effort to maintain healthy wildlife habitats while protecting their crops, often employ methods of pest control that are designed by nature. These methods are commonly referred to as Integrated Pest Management (IPM). One such effort is to monitor and increase the owl population in orchards for the purpose of coyote control.
Coyotes can do serious damage to an orchard. Like any dog, they love to chew. When attracted to an orchard brimming with mice, gophers, and other natural prey, they enjoy a little “recreation time” chewing away at expensive drip irrigation lines. By controlling the population of their natural prey, damage from coyotes can be reduced. Rather than resorting to old “baiting” techniques to reduce the prey, our growers use an IPM method—owls.
Owls need a healthy environment to produce healthy chicks. Today’s growers build “owl boxes” in orchards to provide a safe nesting place. Perched atop a high, smooth pole (for good viewing and difficult access for predators), owls can lay multiple clutches of eggs for successive hatchings with a high survival rate. Increasing the population of owls has helped to return a balance between the animals that can damage a crop and their natural predators.
American Pistachio Growers’ processor members are diligent to constantly improve their technologies and processes to reduce energy and environmental impact. Some processors have installed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, producing clean energy to sort, roast and package pistachios.