The low pistachio production this year was the lowest since 2008 and that was with a significant amount of production acres less than this year.
American Pistachio Growers Executive Director Richard Matoian says the blanking issue hit the pistachio industry this year hard. He says it was an alternate bearing year anyways for the industry and the combination of that and blanking produced numbers that were the lowest in the last 7 years.
Ag Alert: Forces Combine to Shorten Pistachio Crop
Jeff Gibbons of Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella puts it bluntly: “It’s the worst crop we’ve ever experienced.” Gibbons, plant manager for the family-owned company that grows about 10,000 acres of pistachios and processes pistachios for itself and other growers, attributed the smaller crop to three factors. “One: There wasn’t enough winter chill, so the trees did not receive enough rest,” he said. “Two: It was real warm during the bloom and this made pollination unviable, and three: There is the drought.”
Dealing with a fourth drought year, Gibbons said, Setton Pistachio suffered another year of a zero federal water allocation in areas such as Terra Bella, and that increased the purchase price for water—if any could be found. In addition, the warm winter and lack of fog meant pistachio trees didn’t gain the required 800 hours of exposure to temperatures colder than 45 degrees, needed to help set the crop. “The last bad crop that we had due to lack of winter chill was in 2003, and the winter chill this year was significantly worse than it was in 2003,” Gibbons said.
Richard Matoian, executive director of American Pistachio Growers in Fresno, explained that with low chill hours, “the net effect for pistachios is the male and female trees do not bloom and do not receive the pollen at the same time; one blooms sooner than the other, and pollination does not occur.” Matoian noted that last year’s crop was 520 million pounds. He said the blanking problem has been “hit or miss,” depending on where trees are located, adding that in some of the worst cases, farmers reported blanking in 50 percent to 70 percent of the crop. Read the entire article hear.