How to Care for Almond

Almond trees in bloom in Madrid, Spain. image by beamillion/Flickr.com

Overview

Almonds are actually stone fruits. California produces the most commercial nuts from more than 6,000 growers. There must be at least two tree varieties near each other so trees can cross-pollinate to produce the nuts. It takes 180 to 240 days for the nuts to mature after the tree blooms. Almond trees need hot summers and winters without freezing temperatures; they also need irrigation or rain.

Step 1

Prune your almond trees in December and January. You'll need a tall ladder to reach the upper branches and heavy-duty long pruning shears. The tree will get more light after you prune, a necessity for it to blossom. Take off any branches that are diseased or dead; also remove suckers in the middle of the tree.

Step 2

Remove all almonds not harvested in December or January. If these nuts have small holes, it is most likely because of the navel orangeworm. The worm causes aspergillus mold that produces aflatoxin, a known cancer-causing mycrotoxin. Shake the tree to remove all remaining nuts, which must be destroyed to help prevent future infestations. Destroy them by flail mowing or disking by no later than March 15. In December or January, spray your almond trees with dormant oil so they won't become home to the San Jose scale, mite eggs and peach twig borers. Mix the oil with water according to the manufacturer's directions.

Step 3

Fertilize established almond trees with urea or manure, then water the fertilizer so it disperses into the soil. Do these tasks in the spring before the first irrigation and in summer just before the last irrigation and before you harvest the nuts. Young almond trees need nitrogen fertilizer regularly during spring and summer. Mix it with water according to the product directions. Almond trees need drip irrigation daily during the spring when trees are blooming. Spray the trees with fixed copper in the fall after the leaves fall to help prevent the shot hole fungus in spring. Mix the copper with a spreader sticker product.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not allow the dormant oil to drift onto sensitive plants because it can cause permanent damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Tall ladder
  • Heavy-duty long pruning shears
  • Flail-mowing or disking equipment
  • Dormant oil
  • Water
  • Tank sprayer
  • Urea or manure fertilizer
  • Drip irrigation system
  • Nitrogen fertilizer
  • Fixed copper or copper sulfate
  • Spreader-sticker product

References

  • Stewart and Jasper Almonds
  • University of California at Davis Home Orchard, Almonds
  • California Almond Board information about the navel orangewom

Who Can Help

  • Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, About Strip Disking
  • University of California at Davis Gardening Newsletter
  • Insect Horticultural Oils
Keywords: almond trees, pruning almond trees, fertilizing almond trees, irrigating almond trees

About this Author

Ellie Kuykendall has been writing and editing professionally since 1997. Her travel and insurance articles have appeared in national magazines. She's contributed to four books and is currently writing her own book. She received a bachelor's degree from University of San Francisco.

Photo by: beamillion/Flickr.com