how-to-grow-almonds

How to Grow Almonds in Your Own Backyard

The quickest route to a home-grown almond harvest when you plant a nursery-started tree in the right location. It winds through several years of giving your trees what they need, when they need it. Your reward? The maximum amount of delicious, nutritious almonds in the shortest possible time. Our road map helps navigate the way.

The Right Climate

Almond trees need warm, dry summers and winter temperatures falling between 33° and 45°F (0.55° to 7.2°C) long enough to stimulate bud production. That means between 250 and 500 chilling hours per winter, depending on the cultivar.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zones

Almond treesgrowin USDA zones 5 through 10. California’s almonds – the most commercialized in the world – all grow in zones 9 and 10. They also do well in Texas, Arizona and central Florida.

The Right Site

Plant almonds in a shade-free location with rich, well-draining soil. Sandy loam amended before planting with an organic, high-nitrogen, high-phosphorous fertilizer is best. Allow 15 to 20 feet between trees.

Pollination

Only the ‘All-in-One’ almond cultivar self-pollinates. As a bonus, it cross-pollinates all other cultivars. Semi-dwarf ‘All-in One’ grows in USDA zones 7 through 9 and needs 500 chilling hours.

Cross-Pollination

All other almonds require cross-pollination, with bees and other insects carrying pollen between trees. If you aren’t growing ‘All-in-One,’ plant cultivars that cross-pollinate successfully.

Proper Planting

Plant your almonds in February, when temperatures are usually till cool enough to prevent blooming. To plant them:

  • Water the trees thoroughly.
  • Dig holes large enough to hold the root balls with the tap roots fully extended.
  • Gently spread the roots to remove tangles
  • Plant the trees as deep as they were in their pots.
  • Replace the soil in each hole, tamping lightly as you go to eliminate air.

Watering

Water new plantings to saturate the soil and then weekly until new growth appears. With rainfall, they need 2 to 3 inches of weekly water (more during drought. Never let water pool around their trunks.

Spring and Summer Fertilizing

When their spring shoots are 4 to 6 inches long, sprinkle 1/2 cup of high-nitrogen fertilizer in a circle 18 inches from the base of each tree. Water it in and repeat twice during summer. Give each mature tree 30 pounds of well-aged manure every spring.

Winter Pruning and Pest Control

Prune dormant almonds in December or January. Remove damaged or crossed branches and suckers and thin their canopies to allow more sun. Remove weeds and debris that may harbor navel orange worms. To eliminate peach twig borers, scale insects and mites, start spraying with organic neem oil at the manufacturer’s recommended frequency.