Cashew nuts grow as part of the cashew tree’s fruits (or apples). The cashew tree is most commonly grown in Brazil, India, Southeast Asia and parts of Africa. These trees start producing fruit young, and a grafted tree can begin fruiting in just 18 months. You can purchase seedling stock or a grafted cashew tree from a nursery, or you can grow one from fresh seeds, which are the cashew nut including the shell. Cashew seeds are easy to germinate, but they may not grow a tree that produces high-quality nuts.
Plant your cashew tree in sandy, well-draining soil. Choose a location that offers some protection from high winds and receives full or partial sunlight.
Allow a distance of about 33 feet between cashew trees if you’re planting more than one. Also make sure that the cashew trees have enough room to grow up to 39 or 40 feet tall.
Support the cashew trees during the first two to three years by inserting wooden stakes beside the trees and tying the trunks to the stakes using soft string or twine.
Water your cashew trees during dry spells or times of drought. You don’t need to water older, established trees regularly, but water younger trees deeply once every two weeks.
Feed your cashew trees with a fertilizer containing nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous (NPK). Fertilize the trees when they flower and again when the nuts begin to develop. Feed five-year-old and younger cashew plants a fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 4:3:2. Feed trees that are six years old and older a fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 4:3:4. Follow the dosage and application instructions on the package.
Spray your cashew trees with a zinc leaf spray to prevent zinc deficiencies. During the winter growing season, spray the tree’s leaves with a solution of 7 ounces zinc oxide mixed with 26 1/2 gallons of water. For a smaller colony of cashew trees, you can use a solution of 1 ounce zinc oxide to 4 gallons of water.
Harvest the cashew nuts when the cashew apple is deep pink or red in color and the nut shell turns a dull grayish color. The best time to harvest the nuts is when the fruits are ready to fall from the tree.
Things You Will Need
- Cashew seedling or grafted tree, or cashew seeds
- Wooden stakes
- Soft string or twine
- Garden hose or watering can
- Zinc oxide
- Start your cashew seeds in pots filled with sandy potting soil or plant them directly into the ground. Water the soil daily to keep it moist, and the seeds will germinate in about four days.
- Prune away any limbs on your cashew trees that hang on or touch the ground.
- Cashews grow best with daytime temperatures of around 77 degrees F and nighttime temperatures slightly cooler, but no colder than 50 degrees. If you don't live in a tropical climate, you can grow a cashew tree in a greenhouse.
- Avoid planting cashew trees in heavy clay soils or in waterlogged areas because they won't tolerate overly wet soil or having "wet feet."
- Wear protective gloves and glasses when removing the cashew nut from its shell because the shell contains a caustic liquid substance that can cause acid burns.
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