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Where Do Almond Trees Grow?

As snacks loaded with crunch, flavor and hefty doses of healthy fat and protein, home-grown almonds are hard to top. The downside is that to make the flowers that produce nuts, almond trees need the right combination of warm and chilly weather. To find out if they would get enough of both to grow in your part of the world, keep reading.

Things to Consider before You Plant

Almond trees adore hot, dry climates. But during winter dormancy, they also need between 250 and 500 hours of temperatures in the 33°F to 45°F range (0.55° to 7.2°C). Tropical climates can’t provide these chilling hours. Among other facts to consider before planting an almond tree:

  • In the United States, almond trees bloom in February. That eliminates anywhere with an average last spring frost date later than January.
  • Most almond tree varieties suffer damaged flowers after more than 30 minutes at temperatures below 24.8°F (-4°C).
  • During extremely hot, dry summers, water-deprived almond trees yield much smaller nuts.
  • If cold, rainy spring weather discourages bees from pollinating their flowers, almond trees set less fruit.
  • Bacterial and fungal diseases that thrive in wet or humid conditions also decrease a tree’s yield.

Expert gardener’s tip: An almond tree typically uses 1 gallon (3.78 liters) of water for each full-sized almond it produces. And it needs year-round watering.

The Best Places to Grow Almonds

Where can you find the perfect almond-growing climate? Anywhere with a Mediterranean climate where summer’s cold ocean currents mean mild, dry weather and the warmest months average 72°F (22.2°C). In winter, warm ocean currents bring mild, moist air and rain. In such a climate, yearly rainfall seldom exceeds 20 inches.

The World’s Biggest Almond Producers

More than four of every five commercially grown almonds come from a 400-mile swath of California’s Central Valley farms. They stretch from Kern County in the south to Tehama County in the north. Rounding out the top five global producers are:

  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Iran
  • Syria

Growing Almonds by USDA Zone

Depending on variety, almond trees grow in USDA zones 5 through 10. And even in these zones, winter chilling requirements still apply. For the best chance of success, choose a low-chill cultivar such as ‘Ne Plus’ or ‘Garden Prince,’ at 250 chill hours each. They grow in USDA zones 6 through 10 and 7 through 10, respectively.

Expert gardener’s tip: Wherever they grow, all almond trees need sites with full, direct sun and rapidly draining soil. If waters accumulate around their roots, they’re more likely to develop root rot.

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