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Growing Pistachios in the Rocky Mountains at 4500' elevation Without Irrigation

 
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From Logan Utah Pistachios are grown at 4500' elevation without irrigation or any other inputs. These trees were planted by Iranian students in the mid-1970's and have thrived ever since.
 
steward
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Morgan Bowen wrote:http://youtu.be/VQg0Bt3jn7M

From Logan Utah Pistachios are grown at 4500' elevation without irrigation or any other inputs. These trees were planted by Iranian students in the mid-1970's and have thrived ever since.



The pistachios in this photo are from that tree. The story goes that the Iranian students that planted the trees put them on a south facing hill because it most closely matched the conditions where they were growing back home. The actual elevation of this tree is 4800 feet. It's growing on a hill 300 feet higher than the center of town, which I suspect helps it to avoid the frost pockets that settle into the bottom of the valley.



A year ago I harvested seeds from the children of that tree. An orchard I work at has grandchildren of this tree growing already. They are still young and not producing a third generations of nuts yet. We are growing them with irrigation. These trees are also growing on a hillside, at 4600 feet elevation, about 400 feet higher than the valley floor.

The following image, courtesy of GoogleEarth, shows the 2nd generation pistachio orchard. The third generation orchard is nearby.



 
pollinator
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Nice! What do you think the limits of their range is? I have property at 7800 feet in Wyoming. Sagebrush and grass to aspen and fur forest. Do you thing they would grow there? Where would I get some starts?
 
pollinator
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Are we getting a permies posse together here in Cache valley? AWESOME!!!

Miles Flansburg wrote:Nice! What do you think the limits of their range is? I have property at 7800 feet in Wyoming. Sagebrush and grass to aspen and fur forest. Do you thing they would grow there? Where would I get some starts?



Miles, I have included some of these pistachio seeds in your pile of stuff that I have yet to send. They grow here in our cold little valley because of the micro-climate that they were planted into. My best friend's wife runs the biology greenhouse on campus, so I thought I was one of the few in the know about these fabulous trees, but I am obviously mistaken. My wife has some photos, but she's out of town on research.
 
Morgan Bowen
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Great information on the 2nd and 3rd generation of these trees. Is there anyone doing nursury stock from these trees? If you know the property owner of this 2nd gen orchard could you set up an apointment so I could film an up date to the video? And yes, there is a CV posse. Several groups. I have had several meetings at our place, Rocky Mountain Permaculture, located at Living The Good Life Naturally just west of the library in logan at 253 N 100 W. We have done some movie nights and have some high profile and high traffic hugel beds as you drive out of the city complex parking lot. Excited to get to know you.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Pistachio seedlings were for sale at the farmer's market in Logan this spring. Like Bill said, I expect they are doing well because of the micro-climate that they got planted into.

More details about this orchard are at:

http://forestry.usu.edu/files/uploads/UFN/Summer12.pdf

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kz-eZXmbMKI
 
steward
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Oh Bill, pick me, pick me! please can I haz some pistachio seeds?
 
Bill Bradbury
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Ann Torrence wrote:Oh Bill, pick me, pick me! please can I haz some pistachio seeds?


but of course!
Morgan, you must be the one that gave my apprentice and his girlfriend hot chocolate! I'd love to stop by and chat sometime.
Joseph, it's great to have a resource like you; keep up the good work!
 
pollinator
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Good Lord. That is AMAZING. I want some I want some I want some I want some!!! I can add it to my almond, hazelnut, walnut, hickory, etc nut forest.
 
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Do you know what the students original source of seed was? I've been able to buy fresh pistachio fruit locally (so I assume it's Kermin), and found they are much easier to sprout than dried nuts. I now have about 10 5 year old seedlings in my own orchard/food forest. I'm at less than 5000 feet in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, and although they are surviving, I am not exactly impressed with their hardiness. I've lost about 1/3 of the total to winter kill.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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The story goes that Iranian students brought seeds from their homeland to plant the trees growing south of the USU campus.

Seeds to plant the Thatcher orchard included nuts collected in Uzbekistan.

 
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Great post - thank you for the info~

im at ~5300 ft altitude. 12ish inches of rainfall + irrigation and zone 5b. i would love to give a handful of these a try in my area.

Is there someone from Permies that has/can get/sells the seed?

 
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This thread really caught my attention. Home grown pistachios? So tantalizing! To see that they survive winters in Utah gave this Kansan hope, and some further digging revealed a passage in J. Russell Smith's Tree Crops noting that they have been successfully grown just west of Wichita, in the same state where I am.

I would love to someday get ahold of some of the Utah plants/seeds, but in the meantime I am going to try some seeds intended for planting that I purchased on eBay from Turkey. Does anybody have germination tips? I didn't find all that much info online. Some info suggested a damp chill of a few weeks prior to planting. I've currently got a few seeds in warm moist soil, in pots under indoor heat. Also got a few in the fridge. I've got seed from two different sources -- one is bare kernels without the shell, and the other is in kernels. I'm assuming that these might not germinate exactly the same.
 
elle sagenev
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Brian Rumsey wrote:This thread really caught my attention. Home grown pistachios? So tantalizing! To see that they survive winters in Utah gave this Kansan hope, and some further digging revealed a passage in J. Russell Smith's Tree Crops noting that they have been successfully grown just west of Wichita, in the same state where I am.

I would love to someday get ahold of some of the Utah plants/seeds, but in the meantime I am going to try some seeds intended for planting that I purchased on eBay from Turkey. Does anybody have germination tips? I didn't find all that much info online. Some info suggested a damp chill of a few weeks prior to planting. I've currently got a few seeds in warm moist soil, in pots under indoor heat. Also got a few in the fridge. I've got seed from two different sources -- one is bare kernels without the shell, and the other is in kernels. I'm assuming that these might not germinate exactly the same.



Ha ha I did this exact thing. I got some germinated. Just follow my blog tips http://peacockorchard.com/2015/03/25/pistachio-experiment-germination/

I probably bought seeds from the same person you did. I did have a seed germinate. I may have had more germinate. Unfortunately one of the seed types they sent had worms in them. Little white worms that came out when the shell of the seed softened. So I cooked the whole thing to kill the worms.
 
Brian Rumsey
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Thanks for the feedback, elle -- I've bookmarked your page. I'm excited to hear about your progress since we're in the same boat.
 
elle sagenev
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Brian Rumsey wrote:Thanks for the feedback, elle -- I've bookmarked your page. I'm excited to hear about your progress since we're in the same boat.



Just make sure the whole thing is isolated. I bought my seeds off Ebay from someone from Turkey and worms....they had worms. But I also got this:
Pistachio-Sprout-2.jpg
[Thumbnail for Pistachio-Sprout-2.jpg]
 
Morgan Bowen
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This is my YouTube video on propagating the stash your trees from seed.
 
steward
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IMHO, Iranian pistachios are the best in the world.

The California ones are bigger, and look beautiful, but they certainly lack the flavor.
No comparison.

 
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Is there anybody who might have access to these trees? I believe that they should be ripening soon and I would desperately like to get some fresh seed to start and try in British Columbia. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
 
gardener
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Hi Yasha,
I know that One Green World in Portland, Oregon is selling a variety of hardy pistachio seedlings
https://onegreenworld.com/product/uzbek-pistachio-seedling-2/
 
Yasha Nichvolodoff
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Thanks. Yes I saw the pistachios at OGW. Sadly it may be more than difficult to get live plants across the border. Maybe if I let out a plaintive cry they might be willing to share some of their seed with me.
 
James Landreth
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Lol, I'm sorry to hear that. Maybe try Etsy? I know of people who have gotten seeds internationally that way. Not sure if it's technically legal though. I just did a quick search and found some, but I'm not sure if they're good for the pacific northwest :/ I'll try to ask the people at one green world if they'll sell seed. I should be seeing them tomorrow at the Northwest Permaculture Convergence
 
Yasha Nichvolodoff
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Thanks for the tip about etsy. Ive never bought anything through there, and hadn't thought about the possibilty of seeds being available.

That would be incredibly helpful if you could possibly make that contact. My fingers are crossed.

I hope that the convergence is awesome. Dr Ingham is speaking and she is pretty rad in my books.

 
James Landreth
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Dr. Ingham's speech was really insightful. She's not only a really excellent scientist, she also did a great job of teaching and explaining the subject.

I asked One Green World about pistachios for you. They said that that particular source of seeds in hold for a few years, but they may find others. BUT, when they do, they said they can ship to Canada with only a few extra steps.

From what it sounded like, the pistachio trees will survive where you are but may not get enough heat to ripen. But, with a good microclimate setup, they might work. I also think they'd be worth planting anyway, because they might ripen down the line due to climate change, and I imagine they're very drought tolerant to boot.
 
Yasha Nichvolodoff
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Glad to hear that you enjoyed yourself. I've had family members go to see Dr. Ingham, and have had similar reviews. I'm even more glad that you got that feedback from OGW. I agree that the heat units are hard to come by, but I am hoping that with a southern exposure in the southern latitudes there may be a chance. I am pretty confident because I have heard anecdotes of people growing them in the warmer regions (Kelowna). I'll contact OGW and get on their waiting list now that I know that they would entertain sending them northwards, thanks!
 
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Morgan Bowen wrote:



From Logan Utah Pistachios are grown at 4500' elevation without irrigation or any other inputs. These trees were planted by Iranian students in the mid-1970's and have thrived ever since.



So I live just over the mountain in Malad. I would love to grow pistachios. I wonder if they would grow there we are slightly colder than you. Do you need to wrap the trees in the winter or anything? Is it more important to have a hot summer and the tree does fine through the winter?
 
pollinator
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Do they require a dry climate? I wonder if they grow in Missouri?
 
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Does anyone know of any contacts or nurseries in northern Utah that have these Uzbek Pistachio Trees (even seedlings) for sale?  We really want to grow one (or two if needed for pollination) here on the bench in Centerville, Utah!
 
pollinator
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onegreenworld has them: https://onegreenworld.com/product/uzbek-pistachio-seedling-2/

Edit: I just saw several people have already posted this and you are looking for local sources
 
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I'm from Cache Valley. We had to move away in 1988. My wife and I visit family in the area regularly. I saw the photos here several years ago and being from the Valley, it took us about 10 minutes to find the trees on our next visit. I have visited the trees about 10 times over the years. I've seen them in winter, spring, summer, and fall. One tree in particular (the biggest one about 50 yards away from the others), usually had lots of flowers in spring and lots of fruit over the summer. Every time I went to check for nuts in the fall they had all been picked. I don't know if it was animals or people. There were usually lots of broken open shells on the ground under this tree, not so much under the other trees.  
This fall the tree had nut clusters up in the very top branches. It looked like all the easy ones had been picked. I'm crippled, but with some effort and by not looking down (the tree is perched on the brink of a 250' bluff/almost cliff), I was able to gather about 200 nuts. I took the husks off 10 nuts and cracked the shells and 8 appeared to be good, very tasty, and I didn't see any worms.
Here at home we have a lot of places with similar habitat, I plan to germinate some this spring and see if they will grow. I've given away about 40 nuts to friends and plan to keep about 40 for my own use.
So anyway, I'll give some to Permies if they want them.


 



 
Matthew Lloyd
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Chris Holcombe wrote:onegreenworld has them: https://onegreenworld.com/product/uzbek-pistachio-seedling-2/

Edit: I just saw several people have already posted this and you are looking for local sources



Chris, I saw that website earlier and it says "out of stock." I'd be willing to go thru anyone (local or out of state) to try and grow 1-2 of these! I did put my email down on the One Green World website in case they get them in the future. Thanks!
 
Matthew Lloyd
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Steve Mendez, I sent you a PM. New to this site.... anyway, I'm very interested in trying to grow this. Let me know if they're viable and if you have extra! Many thanks!
 
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think they would grow in north texas? I'd love it if they did/
 
pollinator
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Sara Rosenberg wrote:think they would grow in north texas? I'd love it if they did/


I have Pistachio trees and my zone is 8A too. There are hundreds of thousands if not millions of Pistachio trees down here. Most are near the mountains in zone 8B.
 
Matthew Lloyd
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Can someone tell me how the Kerman (and Peters) Pistachio tree is different than the 'Uzbek Pistachio tree?' They both have the same Latin name (scientific name). I'm seeing on One Green World and other online sources that the Kerman is only cold hardy to US Zone 8 (while the Uzbek is hardy to zone 6 or so).

Can I not grow Kerman and Peters in zone 7a?
 
Steve Mendez
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We were in Cache Valley today, Jan 19th, and went by to look at the Pistachio trees just for the heck of it. At 9:00 am it was sunny, 11 degrees F, and about a foot of snow. It has been a relatively mild winter so far.
 
Matthew Lloyd
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Steve Mendez, to your knowledge are any of Pistachio trees Kerman or Peters? Or I'll assume they're just the 'Uzbek' strain? I'm tempted to try the Kerman and Peters (going to do a road trip to St George).
 
pollinator
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Does anyone have an address or location for these trees? I understand they're abandoned...
 
Lauren Ritz
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Looks like starts might be the simplest way to go. One of the starts sprouted this week, so 15-20 days. Planted 7/5, plain soil, kept moist and warm. Since they are a desert tree I didn't put them in potting soil or use rooting hormone. I cut them off at the junction where new wood turns to old wood (visible ring at that spot) and my book says soft wood in mid summer. I put all the pieces I had in pots, including the leaves that were taken off. If any of the additional pieces sprout, I'll post an update.
Pistachio-Sprout-Male.jpg
[Thumbnail for Pistachio-Sprout-Male.jpg]
 
Steve Mendez
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I have been unsuccessful with my several attempts at growing Pistachio trees from the nuts that I gathered late last fall. I sent nuts to a couple of Permies who requested them but haven't heard what their results were.
This past Thursday (July 30) I visited family in Logan and also took 5 small cuttings from the largest tree. I'll try to get the cuttings to sprout using Lauren's technique.
Interestingly, even though the cuttings were immediately put in water, the leaves had turned crispy dry by the time we got back home to Idaho about 4 hours later.
pistachio-tree-11-2-2019.jpg
pisachio
 
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