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Growing pistachio productivity and profitability

Publication date: 11 February 2022

Beginning in July 2018, this investment supports improvements in the cultivation of pistachios and the uptake of new and changing production practices through research, development, and extension activities.

The challenge

To improve pistachio yields through a better understanding of orchard management.

Meet Ian

Manager of Mallee Orchard Pistachios, Ian Mau, has watched his operation go from strength to strength with the help of the Pistachio Productivity Improvement program. “Every single aspect of our orchard program has been changed in line with shared information from the program,” says Ian.

 “I’ve found this industry very helpful, friendly and supportive and the information supplied to our orchard has seen amazing results.

“Over the last 10 seasons, our harvest tonnage has increased by 100 dry-processed tonnes biannually. This equates to an amazing increase in profit for our orchard.”

During the same period, Ian and his team planted 25,000 new trees, guided by information received through the program. As a result, he expects to grow them to yield at harvest two years earlier than previous plantings.

“As someone relatively new to this industry, I think that one of its greatest strengths is the support and cooperation between growers, which is enabled by programs like this, and other levy R&D work more broadly.

“I’ve been involved in other industries and have experienced cultures of competition and jealousy, rather than cooperation. I’m so happy to be part of a program that promotes success across this industry.”

The approach

Following the 2018/19 scoping trial using polymers on selected orchard trees, it was agreed to extend the trial using a larger number of trees. These were undertaken in a block trial and specific shoot trials in laboratory facilities at CMV Farms, plus in research trees at the Irymple Research Station.

The impact

Significant progress has been made into the use of polymers on pistachio trees to enhance chill accumulation and assist with yield by lowering blanks at harvest. The program is also investigating improved zinc absorption and translocation by using Zircon, with data on zinc content before and after treatments from within the leaves and soil to be assessed at the end of the trial.

In addition, the team is studying the nut quality from four different male tree pollen and assessing the possibility of increasing the yield of young Kerman (related to bud abscission) by understanding the underlying causes of low yield of young Kerman trees aged 6 to 11 years.