Pistachio in Spain, varieties and care

Pistachio is one of the crops that most uses Plantae technology, which is why we are going to dedicate this article to the pistachios. At Plantae we are dedicated to the design, development and marketing of wireless sensor technology to save water, improve production and crop quality.

Plantae does not sell plants or advise on the variety or type of pistachio to be planted in your area or region. However, we are going to detail information on the pistachio in Spain, its varieties and its need for irrigation control with sensors.

Ideal pistachio areas in SpainPistacho en España

Pistachio cultivation in Spain depends on several factors, which is why not the entire peninsula is suitable.

  • A minimum number of cold hours , 1150 that influence the winter rest, its subsequent flowering and fertilization and that the production is of a late cycle. If the number of hours is less, the production is early cycle.
  • A average temperature in the southern half favors the pistachio, being higher in the months of April, May, June, July, August and September. This makes the production and maturation take place in a homogeneous way.
  • Beware of late frosts in the months of March, April and May. If we have temperatures below -1.5 degrees, the flower spoils and production is lost. In the maps we can see which areas are more favorable for the production of pistachio in Spain.
  • humidity influences the appearance of fungi and other diseases that affect the tree, therefore it is not advisable to plant in coastal areas.

The following map includes all the options and gives us the ideal areas for pistachio cultivation in Spain.

Plantae AGRO

Pistachio concentration in Spain
Pistachio concentration in Spain. Plantae Elaboration

Orientative maps of the ideal areas for pistachio in Spain according to several factors:

Late frosts

Pistachio map in Spain according to late frosts
Mapa de pistacho en España según heladas tardías. Elaboración Plantae

Cold days

Pistachio map in Spain according to cold days
Pistachio map in Spain according to cold days. Plantae Elaboration

Hot days

Pistachio map in Spain according to hot days
Pistachio map in Spain according to hot days. Plantae Elaboration

Relative humidity

mapa de pistacho en España  según la humedad relativa
Pistachio map in Spain according to relative humidity-Elaboration Plantae

Data from the book “ the pistachio cultivation” by José Couceiro and other authors from the El Chaparrillo Center, with which Plantae collaborated and tested its humidity sensor technology in 2017.

However, that does not imply that in other unsuitable areas there are no pistachios, as is the case in Lleida. Studies are also being carried out in other communities with conditioned adaptation given the high market demand for this product.

It is also convenient to take into account the type of soil as we can see in the following graphs.

Ideal land for pistachio in Spain

terreno idóneo para pistachos
Classification according to USDA. Plantae Elaboration
terrenos par pistacho
Field for pistachio

Depending on the climate and the area, we must choose where to plant. The best plantation options for pistachio in Spain are:

  1. Nursery grafted plant, with Kerman and Kastel varieties, very good for frosty areas. In less cold areas they are good varieties such as Larnaka , Avdat , Mateur , and Aegina .
  2. Graft holder + posterior graft. The most favorable rootstock varieties in Spain are cornicabra, ucb1 and atlántica.

How is the pistachio planted?

When our plants arrive, we must treat them with great care:

  • They come from the nursery on pallets, we remove them and leave the pots grouped vertically on the ground. They are watered every two days with water if it is not very cold. In case of intense cold it is better not to water to avoid freezing.
  • Keep them in a medium dark and ventilated place, but protected from the intense cold.
  • When we are going to plant them we must check that the humidity of the soil is optimal so that it does not disintegrate from the plant. In this way the root is protected.
  • The extraction must be done carefully so as not to damage the root ball.
  • At the time of planting, a contribution of rooting and humus is important to stimulate the grip of the plant.
  • It is important to water at the time of planting, especially if the land is irrigated.
  • Finally, place the protective tube and the tutor that needs at least five years to stay upright.

As it is an anemophilic plant, pollination with the wind, they will be planted six or seven meters apart from each other (planting frames 6 × 6 or 7 × 6), alternating females (2 or 3) and a male, taking into account whether the plantation is affected by the north wind. We will put more male pistachios in that area, also around the edges.

Modelo de plantación de pistachos

Pistachio care

Once we have the plant growing we will not have fruit in about 5 or 6 years. During this time it only needs nutrients, irrigation and pruning >. Then we will approach the full harvest around the tenth year according to variety and type of irrigation / rainfed.

It is a plant that needs heat in summer, but it benefits from controlled irrigation , without waterlogging, that is why plantations are interested in humidity sensors to control irrigation.

As for pruning, we have several cycles of tree growth.

Training pruning:

  • The pistachio in Spain is usually planted between November and January and can be already grafted or only the rootstock.
  • If it is necessary to graft, it is usually done in June and before that we must prune the rootstock to prevent the branches from covering the graft.
  • The year after grafted planting or grafting, all the lateral branches are pruned, leaving three that we choose untouched. This pruning can be in May and June. We release the rootstock from the leaves and make sure to guide the graft with the stake.
  • The following year or when we see the corresponding height, the entire lower part is pruned and at a height of 1.50 meters in females and 1.80 in males, we cut the tip and prune the side branches. It can be done in the months of May and June.
  • When the three or four branches sprout at the top in the correct position, that they are not overlapping, and reach about 25 centimeters, we cut them out again, to repeat the operation of selecting the four that serve as a guide for the tree again. . The shoots of the main branch are removed.
  • Training pruning continues with this technique of cutting the tips, now at a distance of about 15 centimeters. So until we shape the tree.
Pistachio with training pruning
Pistachio with training pruning

Production Pruning

This pruning is aimed at; aerate the tree, keep it within the marked limits and get lighting.

Rejuvenation pruning

Annual cleaning so that the terminal buds generate new branches.

Plantation of pistachios with irrigation controlled by PLANTAE sensors
Plantation of pistachios with irrigation controlled by PLANTAE sensors
Plantación de pistacho con sensores de humedad y caudalímetro
Pistachio plantation with humidity sensors, subsoil temperature and flow meter

Pistachio Nutrients

One of the best ways to fertilize the pistachio is to leave the stubble and crushed pruning remains as a cover. While providing nutrients, they serve to store moisture.

Also remove the earth around the trees a couple of times a year at least, in order to oxygenate it and bury the undergrowth.

You also need minerals like:

  • Nitrogen: provides development to the tree. Its deficiency produces small trees and deformed leaves.
  • Phosphorus: to promote flowering and fruit setting.
  • Potassium: which influences the transport of sugars. Benefits the formation of the fruit.
  • Calcium: promotes root development and improves nutrient absorption.

Post-harvest process

Once we see that the fruit is ripe, it is harvested with machines or by hand.

It is transferred to the processing plant and the pistachio must be treated within 24 hours, otherwise it runs the risk of catching mold, staining the shell and losing all quality.

The phases of the process:

The phases of the pistachio harvesting process
The phases of the pistachio harvesting process

Winder: Machine with air flow that separates the voids by their weight.

Spotting : mild, moderate, severe or maximum. It is produced by fungi or by oxidation.

Calibrated : separation by different sizes. Super-extra, extra-large, large, medium and small.

The voids and shells of those that are stored peeled can be used for fertilizers.

Plantae Agro
Plantation of pistachios controlled by the receiving hub of Plantae
Sensores en finca de pistacho
Humidity sensors in Pistachio farm in Spain



"The cultivation of pistachio" by José Couceiro

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