How to prune pistachio trees

Pistachio Tree Training and Pruning


In general, pistachio trees need less pruning than other fruit trees (apple, citrus etc.) However, the same rules of fruit trees pruning apply. In a few words, we prune (or “train”) young trees during their second spring in order to determine their shape (crown skeleton). The shape is very important and can affect production quantity, quality and ease of harvesting or other farming activities. On the other hand, we prune mature trees in order to maintain their shape and open up the inner part of the tree, so that aeration and sunlight penetration will be improved. We also prune mature trees in order to remove broken, weak or diseased branches, and of course get rid of suckers. All the previous operations promote fruit production in the long term.

Young pistachio trees are usually trained during their second spring in a way so that they can finally bear heavy crops that can be easily harvested. We can manage the proper shape by tipping the top of the tree once the scion (the upper part of the tree that was budded to rootstock) reaches a height of 40 inches (1 meter). This tipping will promote the appearance of 3-4 primary branches from this point. These will be selected as the primary branches of the tree. They will form the basic skeleton of the tree and thus they must not cross each other. We then tip each of the primary branches when they reach a length of 15 inches (38 cm). This promotes the growth of secondary branches from each primary branch, which we will also tip when they reach a length of 25 inches (63 cm.)

In general, pruning of a healthy and mature pistachio tree should be light (remove maximum 10-15% of the tree crown), because severe pruning (more than 30% of the crown) has been found to increase the percentage of closed fruits. However, very weak trees should be pruned severely. Pruning should be normally held during late winter – early spring and definitely when the tree is still dormant. During the summer, we can remove young shoots, having a length of 30 inches (75 cm) or more, so as to avoid their possible bending downwards. The desired angle of shoots is about 45 degrees. This operation promotes side vegetation and speeds up the development of the crown skeleton. The inner part of crown of trees should be kept open, so that it will have access to plenty of sunlight. Sunlight is necessary for the formation of flower buds and thus is proportionate to production. After creating the basic skeleton of the tree crown, only light pruning is allowed. We generally cut 1 year limbs to 20 inches (50 cm.) Remember that in mature trees of 15 years and older, the fruit bearing parts are always at the upper half of the canopy. Consequently, pruning upper limbs must be limited.

Male pistachio trees are usually not pruned. They normally reach a greater height than the female trees, because the pollination of pistachio trees is facilitated this way. Male trees are pruned only when they hinder the growth of females, when they cause difficulties in harvest and when we try to delay their flowering.

You can enrich this article by leaving a comment or photo of your pistachio trees pruning methods.

1.) Pistachio Tree Information

2.) How to grow Pistachio Tree from nut

3.) Starting a Pistachio Orchard

4.) Pistachio Tree Growing Conditions

5.) Pistachio Tree Propagation and Pollination

6.) Pistachio Tree Soil Conditions and Preparation

7.) Pistachio Tree Planting

8.) Pistachio Tree Training and Pruning

9.) Pistachio Tree Fertilizer Requirements

10.) Pistachio Tree Water Requirements

11.) Pistachio Tree Harvest & Yields

12.) Pistachio Tree Diseases & Pests

13.) Q&As Pistachios

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Dos and don’ts when pruning pistachio trees

“The lack of lateral branching causes the fruit-bearing wood to become increasingly distant from the central axis of the tree,” Beede says. “Failure to contain the tree canopy to a diameter of about 17 feet results in crop falling onto the ground at harvest due to the limited size of the harvest equipment.”

A good pistachio pruning program manages the canopy over the life of the orchard in a way that maximizes the possible yield of clean, open split-nuts from an efficient harvest, says Bob Beede, University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor, emeritus, for Kings County.

To better manage alternate bearing, he prefers to think of pruning in terms of two years, rather than just the next year. “Pruning harder prior to an on-year improves the yield during an off-year, in my opinion,” Beede says. UC researchers are now testing that hypothesis.

Both growth and fruiting habits of the pistachio tree affect pruning. As a very apical dominant tree, it does not branch readily. Instead, the tree grows mostly from the terminal bud and one or two lateral buds behind it, he notes. Consequently, branching must be forced by removing the end portion of a limb. Such heading cuts are made regularly during the training years to develop the desired branching.

Also due to the pistachio tree’s apically dominant nature, the trunk and limb diameter do not enlarge rapidly. That requires heading the main structural limbs shorter than desired to keep them upright, Beede adds

Flower buds develop on one-year-old wood, typically towards the base of medium to long shoots and next to the terminal vegetative bud on short shoots (spurs). “The lack of lateral branching causes the fruit-bearing wood to become increasingly distant from the central axis of the tree,” Beede says. “Failure to contain the tree canopy to a diameter of about 17 feet results in crop falling onto the ground at harvest due to the limited size of the harvest equipment.”

Eventually, during the on-bearing seasons the weight of the crop forces the main structural limbs to bend downward. Without corrective pruning, the pistachio tree canopy begins to take on the appearance of an umbrella, Beede notes

“This combination of less-upright fruiting limbs and their greater distance from the tree’s center creates major problems for effective harvest,” he says. “The high energy imparted to the trunk by the shaker can no longer be sufficiently transmitted to the fruiting zone for its removal.”

Some growers try to solve this by simply shaking the tree harder. The result, he points out, is more frequent equipment breakage, rapid sling wear (the thick rubber sheets draped around the shaker pads for protection), excessive removal of next year’s fruiting wood (spurs) and, possibly, more tree stress from disruption of roots at the tree’s crown. Harder shaking also flings the crop past the catch frame of the harvester.

This can be prevented by pruning the pistachio tree so as to push the canopy perimeter back, reducing its diameter and directing growth upward, Beede reports. That’s done mainly with thinning cuts, which completely remove a limb at its point of origin.

“To achieve a more compact and upright tree, thinning cuts are made to flat limbs around the outside of the tree and within the canopy where excessive fruitwood exits,” Beede says. “Be careful not to make too many cuts in any given sector of the canopy unless the fruitwood is unusually abundant. In addition to distributing the thinning cuts over the entire tree, avoid removing all of the lateral limbs on a specific structural branch in order to make room for adjacent branches. Rather than creating these so-called snakes, it is better to leave the best structural branch minimally pruned and to remove the competing branch entirely.”

Also, he cautions against opening the center of pistachios trees. “We do not want them to look like peach trees at the completion of pruning,” Beede says. “Because of their growth and fruiting habits, pistachio trees will open up naturally, allow sufficient light into the canopy center for fruitwood production.”

He considers loss of fruitwood in the middle of the tree over time as more a function of apical dominance than insufficient light penetration. The key in pruning is to keep the pistachio canopy compact and upright for productivity and harvestability.

“Don’t prune mature trees to the point that they produce lots of long whips,” he says. “Although this looks good, it most likely means that the tree has been over pruned.

Research shows that the pistachio tree has preformed shoots. They set seven to nine bud positions before the season begins. Unless the tree is excessively vigorous, these preformed shoots grow into spurs and set lots of crop, he explains.

“If mature trees are over-pruned, these preformed shoots are “pushed” into continued growth,” Beede says. “I believe the most productive pistachio tree is one that has hundreds of these short, preformed shoots, rather than lots of long whips.”

Pistachio pruning: how to do, types and benefits

One of the most important reasons for pistachio pruning is to stimulate fruit production. But this is not the only thing, as other purposes of pruning are to facilitate harvesting, to direct the growth and formation of trees, to improve ventilation, and to facilitate the penetration of sunlight. Many people do not know what are the basic principles of learning pistachio pruning .

For this reason, we are going to dedicate this article to tell you everything you need to know about pistachio pruning and what it takes to do it.


  • 1 When to prune pistachios?
  • 2 Required tools
  • 3 How do you prune a young pistachio tree?
    • 3.1 Forming pruning
    • 3. 2 Fruiting pruning
  • 4 How is a mature pistachio tree pruned?
    • 4.1 Pruning products
    • 4.2 Rejuvenation pruning
    • 4.3 Pruning green pistachios

When to prune pistachios?

Young pistachios are pruned during the first and second year to determine their shape. Taking care of the shape of the tree is important because it affects the quantity and quality of the crop, how easy it is to harvest and other agricultural activities. Trim ripe pistachios to keep their shape and clean the inside of the tree, which improves ventilation and allows sunlight to enter. All of these tasks benefit the production of future fruit crops.

If there's one thing we have to consider when pruning pistachios, it's that there will be frost after pruning. Pistachios, like other fruit trees, can suffer tissue damage when temperatures drop significantly after pruning. Thus, while there is a risk of frost (temperature close to 0º), pruning should be postponed until the risk has decreased. Therefore, we must coordinate pruning schedules with periods of minimum activity and tree growth.

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Generally the best time to prune pistachios is early spring before the tree is back in activity and when there is no risk of low temperatures. This will reduce the loss of juice and the wound will begin to heal as the growth phase approaches. In climates with mild winters, pruning in autumn may be a good option.

While major pruning such as training, production or renewal should be done during the cool season, green pruning should not. The best time for green pistachio pruning is early to mid-summer when it is hottest.

Required Tools

We will need some tools to trim the pistachios. The choice largely depends on the type of pruning and the size of the tree. Basically you will need garden shears and a hand saw. If our pistachios are large, we will need stairs, in addition to the necessary safety features. Here are the basic materials needed:

  • Clippers: Cuts branches up to 5 cm long.
  • Mountain range: Cut branches from 5 to 20 cm.
  • Height trimmer: Trim tall branches.
  • chainsaw : Cuts unfinished wood over 20 cm.
  • ladder
  • Safety goggles, gloves and boots.

It is recommended to disinfect cutting tools before cutting. This will help prevent diseases of fruit trees.

How is a young pistachio tree pruned?

To prune pistachios, we first need to decide what type of pruning to do, and for this we need to know the age of the tree. Unlike pruning ripe pistachios, which are growing and need to be trained in pruning, we need to think more about production and make harvesting easier. Well, if it's less than 5 years old, we should prune the tree to guide its growth and establish a main branch. . From here, the pistachios will move on to the production stage where pruning is needed to improve fruit quality and facilitate harvest.

Pruning is done during this period of development to guide the growth of the tree and define its structure. We will see the type of pruning we have to do at this stage of development:

Shaping pruning

It includes managing the growth and formation of pistachios in the first years. Since this is a fairly heavy pruning, do it when the tree is calmer, i.e. in early spring or autumn in areas where winters are not too cold.

We will do this by:

  • Year 1 : We will cut off all the branches so that the branches below can sprout.
  • Año 2: Trim the main branch a little to 2/3 of its length. We will remove the branches that grow from the lower half of the trunk, and leave the rest.
  • Year 3 : Slightly trim the main shoot to 2/3 of its length and remove the shoots growing inside the pistachio.

Pruning fruiting

Its main purpose is to create secondary industries. To do this, we have to choose 3 main branches on which the rest of the tree will grow. Branches should not be too steep, so that they do not break under the future weight. Next, we'll trim the main branches a bit, about 2/3 of their length, and prune offshoots from those branches to define the structure of the tree.

How is a mature pistachio tree pruned?

Mature pistachios, those already in production, are pruned to keep their shape and clean the inside of the tree. Thus we facilitate the flow of light and improve its ventilation . These are the so-called production models, so let's see what they are made of.

Pruning products

This type of pruning is designed to use the amount of sunlight captured by the canopy to improve the quantity and quality of the crop.

Perform a production pruning to clear the branches and clean the inside of the canopy to improve light penetration and ventilation. Thus, we will try to get a leaf bowl with an inlet and outlet to increase the exposure to sunlight. In addition, we will prune unproductive branches to allow new branches to grow, and we will remove branches that grow inside the tree. The purpose of this pruning is to increase the yield of the tree and produce higher quality fruits.

Let's see what production pruning includes:

  • First, we will eliminate the biggest suckers, because they are not very productive and slow down the growth of branches.
  • We don't have to remove all suckers. The weakest shoots inside the glass will be left to shade the wood that forms the structure of the pistachio.
  • We must prune the lower branches because they receive less light and therefore bear less fruit.
  • We must wear glasses with light in and out so that we can increase our exposure and make better use of the sunlight. We also cut branches that are tangled in the crown, as well as those that are damaged, broken or diseased.
  • Not all branches can be cut to maintain the leaf to wood ratio. Thus we will avoid an excess of wood, which reduces the regenerative capacity of productive branches .

Rejuvenation pruning

This type of pruning is carried out on pistachios with signs of aging, which have been produced for many years, from 20 to 40 years . These symptoms may be:

  • small yellow leaves
  • Low performance
  • Loss of leaves inside the tree

This is done to rejuvenate pistachios and can be done in large or gradual steps.

  • Essential youth pruning: In the first case, we remove all the leaves from the tree, effectively leaving the base and main branches of the trunk to grow back.
  • Progressive Rejuvenation Pruning : It consists of pruning from the top of the crown to the base of the branches. It is done in stages, every 3 years we will cut one of the four main branches of the tree.

Green pistachio pruning

Green pruning can be done in summer. Although it can be done at any time of the year, it is usually done at the end of August when there is little activity on the pistachio trees due to the heat. . This is done to control the growth of suckers or suckers by removing those that don't work with pistachios.

I hope that with the help of this information you will be able to learn more about pistachio pruning and its features.

How to grow pistachio wood - advice to summer residents

Page content

  • 1 Care for pistachio wood
  • 2 Light
  • 4 Water
  • 50014
  • 7 Pruning
  • 8 Harvesting
  • 9 Growing in containers

If you're looking for a perennial nut for a delicious crunchy snack full of healthy vitamins and minerals, you might want to consider planting a pistachio tree. The pistachio tree requires very specific growing conditions, but if you can meet its needs, it will produce a bountiful harvest.

Pistachios grow in dry, hot climates that receive plenty of sunlight. Although pistachio trees grow slowly (pistachios can take at least five to seven years to produce a significant crop), the benefits of growing your own produce far outweigh the effort and patience involved.

These fruit trees can grow up to 10 meters tall with the same long tap roots. Their flowers are not flashy and generally devoid of petals. But what they lack in looks, they make up for in delicious nut production.

Pistachio tree maintenance

Pistachio cultivation is not suitable for everyone due to specific climatic requirements. The most important factor to consider is the temperature, humidity, and rainfall in your area. Pistachio trees require very high temperatures during the day and do not like high humidity or wet soil. It performs best in sandy, well-drained loamy soils. It is best to water infrequently and deeply.

Real pistachio is a dioecious fruit tree variety. Simply put, this means that they do not self-pollinate. The tree will have either male or female flowers and you will need one of each if you really want to produce pistachio nuts.

Gusty winds in spring and summer are also critical to a healthy pistachio crop. The pollen from male trees must have enough wind to get from male to female flowers. Typically, trees planted less than 15 meters apart are able to self-pollinate.


The pistachio tree needs sunlight and thrives in hot dry climates.


Although the pistachio tree grows in almost any type of soil, it grows best in light, sandy, loamy soils that drain well. Wet heavy soil is not suitable for these trees. Due to their long taproot, it is important that the soil goes deep into the ground.


The pistachio tree is very drought tolerant and prefers arid landscapes. However, don't let this reputation think that it gives you a reason to deprive the pistachio tree of water. They still require a lot of water to produce nuts.

Your tree will appreciate deep, infrequent watering to allow water to soak into the soil. In the summer heat, excess water is appreciated. Let the water drain before re-watering. Pistachios do not tolerate damp soil or standing water. For large gardens, many people use irrigation systems.

Temperature and humidity

These trees like it hot! The optimum temperature for the pistachio tree is about 35 degrees. Even though it loves such high temperatures, it requires cooler temperatures (10 degrees) during certain times of the year.

This drop in temperature causes drowsiness, which is very important for survival in winter weather. However, pistachio trees do not tolerate frozen ground.

Unlike tropical plants that like high temperatures and humidity, the pistachio tree does not like too much moisture. Grows well in hot dry climates.


Before adding any fertilizer, it is important to know what your soil may be lacking by doing a soil analysis. If it lacks nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium, you can tailor the fertilizer to suit your tree's nutrient needs.

The best time to fertilize is late winter/early spring to get a good harvest.


Like other walnut trees, the real pistachio is classified as a fruit tree. This makes pruning an essential part of getting the best nut yield.

When the tree is young, identify shoots that will be the main branches for the growing tree. It is best to choose those that are evenly spaced along the trunk. Avoid branches that are directly opposite each other.

After selecting the main branches, cut all branches below the lowest main branch, which should be between 60 and 80 centimeters above the soil. All other branches should be cut to about 10-15 centimeters in length.

Pruning a pistachio tree in mid-summer will help the tree branch out and become thicker. To encourage continued growth, you can prune the tree two to three times a year.

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