How Are Pistachios Grown? Where Are These Nuts Found In The World

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Mar 03, 2023 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Nov 17, 2021
Edited by Lara Simpson
Fact-checked by Pratiti Nath
Pistachio trees are found in the deciduous forest
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.9 Min

Pistachios are a form of tree nuts that are known to provide several health benefits to humans.

Pistachio nuts are extracted from the pistachio tree, known as Pistacia vera. Unlike other nuts, this nut is low in calories and are known to reduce weight efficiently.

Pistachio trees are found in the deciduous forest and are mainly cultivated in the Middle Eastern region. The pistachio species have separate trees for different genders.

In the case of these trees, the males are bigger than the females. The male pistachio tree bears flowers with petals, while the female ones have flowers without petals and are responsible for producing the seeds. On average, a pistachio tree is known to have a slow-growing process but has a longer lifespan.

These trees are dioecious, which means that one tree is supposed to have a single male or female flower. The reproduction of these plants occurs through pollination, where an external agent usually transports the pollen grains.

In this case, the wind is sufficient to carry the pollen grains from male trees to females.

To harvest or cultivate pistachios in an orchard, the pistachio growers usually plant the trees with one male tree surrounded by many mature females since the latter will produce the nuts. Usually, in a pistachio tree growing zone, one male seed is planted in a central position surrounded by nine female trees known to bear the fruits.

If you like reading this, you might want to read about how are peanuts grown and how are bricks made.

Where are pistachios grown in the world?

Although the pistachio nuts fall under the most in-demand nuts category in the world, pistachios grown across the world do not meet the global demand. This is because the seeds are not grown worldwide, and the areas of production are numbered. Production is mainly restricted to Iran, California, the United States, Turkey, and China.

In terms of resources, the pistachio trees do not require specific soil, ground, and seed placement conditions, but they do need some particular climatic conditions. They are pretty flexible and thrive in desert soil with a minimal water supply or during a drought.

In terms of climate, it grows in both summer and winter conditions.

During the early stage of growth, slight cold winter conditions are favored, and during the ripening, hot summers are required with a low amount of humidity for the pistachio trees. Considering these requirements, they can't be grown everywhere on the planet, and therefore the places are restricted.

Iran is known to be the highest producer of this nut which is followed by California and Arizona.

The desert areas of New Mexico are known to produce a large number of trees as well. In the U.S., the most significant amount is produced in the valleys of California.

However, the nut finds its origin in the winters of the Middle East and the hot deserts of Central Asia.

Apart from these places, they are produced in the south and central Asian countries like China and India, which have a subtropical climate throughout. Surprisingly these crops are not grown in the countries present in Europe, where they are generally exported to meet the demands of the localities.

How To Grow A Pistachio Tree

Because this crop requires a hot summer condition during the ripening months, mild winter can be feasible during the early hours of harvesting. Due to this reason, they are not found in European countries and are mostly restricted to countries of the Middle East.

Producing pistachio requires a machine guided by humans throughout the entire process. The heavy work like transferring or loading is mostly a machine-centric job, while the hulling and storage are human-centric.

During the harvest season on a farm, the nuts are usually collected by knocking either the branches or the trunk of pistachio trees with a pole. During this time, the nuts should not touch the ground as the shell, and the hull is known to split when dropped, reducing the quality of the final hut product.

After picking, the hull is removed from the crop to restrict any mold growth on them.

To get rid of any empty nuts, they are placed in a bucket of water. The ones which float can be eliminated easily as they usually do not contain a nut.

Once the hulls are removed, they are put out in the sun for drying. Once they are dried, a crisp texture is noticed, which indicates that it's ready for storage.

Pistachio nuts are extracted from the pistachio tree

How To Process Pistachios At Home

In the case of the methods to process pistachios at home, the hulling and the storing procedures are of primary importance.

Once the crop is collected from the pistachio trees on the farm, the crop undergoes the process of hulling.

During this process, the hulls are removed from the crop to maintain quality and eliminate the empty ones collected together from pistachio trees. After removing hulls, the fresh crop is spread along the center of a table to dry them at room temperature, although putting them out in the sun is a convenient option.

Once the drying is done, the pistachio nut is then stored in specific shells for future consumption.

Why are pistachios so expensive?

While purchasing a bunch of pistachio nuts, it becomes pretty evident that the prices of these nuts are relatively higher compared to other edible nuts like peanuts or almonds. These nuts are agricultural crops that are mainly grown for commercial purposes.

Most of the processes involved in the production of pistachios are done by direct human involvement. Since growing and nurturing the plants in different orchards require an immense amount of time by the laborers, it increases the production cost.

Moreover, the plant is considered to be an alternate bearing plant. According to this, apart from restricting to a particular season, the harvest varies from year to year, alternating between heavy to low.

A year with maximum production will be followed by a year with less production. Finding a suitable tree to cultivate these nuts can be very difficult.

Once an orchard is found in a hot desert area, the bearing of fruit takes four to five years on average. Initially, the planted pistachio trees produce significantly fewer nuts, and the number increases with every passing year.

It takes around 15-20 years on average to produce a large number of pistachios at once.

Considering all these factors, it can be understood that even though pistachios are one of the most demanded commercial nuts, the production is not very easy. Since the harvesting and the production process of this nut faces a series of adverse conditions, the prices of the pistachios are generally very high.

However, it would be best if you did not eat too many pistachios. It can result in weight gain and digestion problems. Pistachio also has fructans so, if you have fructan intolerance, it can cause bloating, abdominal pain, and nausea.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for how are pistachios grown, then why not take a look at how deep are electric lines buried or how big are bed bugs.

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Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

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Fact-checked by Pratiti Nath

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology, Masters of Science specializing in Biotechnology

Pratiti Nath picture

Pratiti NathBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology, Masters of Science specializing in Biotechnology

A Master's in Biotechnology from Presidency University and a Bachelor's in Microbiology from Calcutta University. Pratiti holds expertise in writing science and healthcare articles, and their inputs and feedback help writers create insightful content. They have interests in heritage, history, and climate change issues and have written articles for various websites across multiple subjects. Their experience also includes working with eco-friendly startups and climate-related NGOs.

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