What's Blooming When? The Seasonality of Tree Nuts
There's an increasing demand for healthy snack foods in the US thanks to a growing number of health and fitness conscious consumers. This increasing health focus has resulted in an increase in demand for nuts, making permanent crops, and more specifically tree nuts, an enticing option for investors.
When investing in permanent crops, it’s useful to have an overall understanding of the seasonality of each crop and when crops are in bloom. Let's dive into when some of our tree nut offerings are in bloom, as well as when they’re in peak growing season.
The almond life cycle is a lengthy one with many stages. Almond trees can produce for 25 years yet don't yield their first crop till three years post planting. California has an ideal Mediterranean climate for almond growing. Like many permanent crops, almonds require a period of dormancy; these trees lose their leaves from November through January while the soil soaks up and stores water from California’s cool, wet winters.
Once the growing season begins, which usually occurs around the middle of February to the middle of March, the deep-rooted almond trees start sending water and nutrients to each branch and buds begin to grow. These buds will turn into flowers that blossom in the spring. In place of each blossom, an almond kernel grows throughout the summer. By July, the tough outer hull of the kernel splits open and allows the kernel inside to dry.
The almonds are ready to harvest from August through October.
Hazelnuts are a unique permanent crop with a long lifespan. These orchards have an even longer lifespan than almonds. The shrubby tree can produce nuts for up to 40-50 years.
Unlike most permanent crops, hazelnuts blossom and pollinate during the winter months. The hazelnut blooms with both male and female flowers. The male flowers appear long and yellow, and the female flowers appear small and red.
Pollinators are not active yet during the cool winter months when hazelnuts bloom; as a result, the trees rely on the breeze to carry pollen from one tree to the next. The pollen is then stored while the tree remains dormant until springtime, when fertilization occurs.
Hazelnut trees begin producing nuts as early as mid-May and are ready for harvest from August through October.
Pistachio trees prefer to grow their famous lime green nuts in desert climates with hot days and cool nights. Southern California is the second largest pistachio producer in the world, with 98% of all pistachios produced in the US grown in California.
Pistachio orchards have a stunning life span outliving and out producing many other permanent crops. Healthy pistachio stands often remain highly productive for centuries. This long lifespan allows the trees to grow extensive root systems that prevent soil erosion in arid environments and promote healthy soil biology.
The incredibly long life of these nut trees is partly due to their alternate bearing cycles. Pistachio trees bear heavily every other year. The light harvest year gives them recovery time to build up nutrient stores for the next heavy bearing year.
These nut trees bloom with either male flowers or female flowers in mid-March. The trees must be near a counterpart tree – or be mechanically fertilized -- to complete the fertilization process by the end of May. The pistachio harvest typically lasts six weeks, from late August to early September.
Pecans trees, surprisingly, are in the fruit family. However, although technically a fruit, pecans are referred to as tree nuts.
Pecans, related to the hickory genus, are the only tree nut native to North America. Pecan orchards, like pistachio orchards, are alternate harvest bearing and can produce for well over 300 years. This species of tree is extremely hardy-- its leaves do not wilt in the toughest of drought conditions.
The pecan tree grows to over 144 feet tall and becomes more productive with each passing year. Its highest producing years are between the ages of 75 and 225. Mature trees bloom in April with both male and female flowers on the same tree, meaning the trees are able to self-pollinate.
Pecans are ready for harvest between October and November.
Walnut trees are a fast-growing species that commonly grow taller than 50 feet. Like pecans, the walnut is classified as a fruit but technically considered a tree nut.
After winter dormancy, blossoms appear on the trees prior to leaves. In California, walnuts begin blooming from April through May. Each tree grows both male and female flowers and can self-pollinate, but the male and female flowers often bloom at slightly different times. Cross pollination with other walnut trees with the help of pollinators allows for higher crop yields.
Walnut crops ripen in the late summer and early fall. Harvest begins in late August and lasts through December.
The Increasing Demand For Tree Nuts
Tree nuts, such as those highlighted in this article offer convenient solutions to on-the-go consumers looking for clean eating options. These permanent crops are healthy and ideal models for sustainable investing in regenerative agriculture.
Permanent crops offer long term answers to problems in land cultivation, from soil erosion to loss of biodiversity. Crops that don’t need to be planted annually require little disruption to the soil and grow complex root systems that prevent unnecessary soil erosion.
From one season to the next, fruit and nut trees like the ones in our offerings serve as long-term food options, and can be tremendous sustainable investment opportunities.
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Disclaimer: FarmTogether is not a registered broker-dealer, investment adviser or investment manager. FarmTogether does not provide tax, legal or investment advice. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. You should consult your own tax, legal and investment advisors before engaging in any transaction.