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Information @ a Glance

  • The Pistachio is a small tree up to 10 m tall, native to mountainous regions of central and southwestern Asia such as the Kopet Dag mountains of Turkmenistan southwest to northeastern Iran and western Afghanistan. It has deciduous pinnate leaves 10-20 cm long. The plants are dioecious, with separate male and female trees. The flowers are apetalous and unisexual, and borne in panicles. The fruit is a drupe, containing an elongated seed with a hard, whitish shell and a striking light green kernel, having a very characteristic flavour.

Growth and Cultivation

  • Pistachios mature rather slowly, reaching significant production a full seven to ten years after planting. Peak production, it is believed, is reached at about 20 years. Climate also plays a role in pistachio production. Too mild a winter, or heavy rainfall during the pollination period, can reduce yield. Pistachio trees require approximately 1,000 hours of temperatures at 45 degrees F. or below to bring about the dormancy necessary for good production.
  • California pistachios are grown on various rootstocks. The Kerman variety is budded to the rootstock when the rootstock is one year old. These rootstocks were developed to achieve a healthier and more vigorous plant. While pistachios have been grown in Europe, Asia and the Middle East for centuries, they have only been a commercial crop in the United States since 1976, when California harvested its first crop. Today, the Kerman variety is the tree of choice for almost all California pistachio growers.


  • The processing procedure begins with transportation of raw nuts to processing warehouses, where they are weighed and provided with a label showing the exact weight and the owner. Pistachios are unloaded and stored temporarily and cleaned by means of flowing air. A sample for quality classification is then taken. Nuts are peeled and peelings are separated for possible later use. 
  • The top layer must be removed from picked fruit which must be dried within 24 hours so that shells do not become dirty and possibly contaminated with dangerous aflatoxins. The peel closing nuts is removed by means of machines having two rubber cylinders moving in the opposite directions and rotating at different speeds. Pistachios are then stored in silos depending on their quality and prepared for dispatch.


  • Pistachio nuts are rich in heart-healthy oil, low in saturated fat, and are high in dietary fiber, vitamin B6, thiamine, phosphorus and copper. Pistachio oil is used both medicinally and cosmetically. Resin from the trunk and branches can be obtained by tapping, and has medicinal applications (to stop bleeding and dress wounds). The mesocarp (fruit hulls) and leaf galls (caused by insect infestation) have been used for tanning leather, and for dyeing. 


  • World production of pistachios has also grown rapidly during the past 20 years, but U.S. production has increased as a share of the world total (California production comprises 98 percent of U.S. commercial production). Iran produces about 57 percent of world supply, followed by the United States with 21 percent. Iranian exports account for 64 percent of world exports again followed by the United States with 10 percent. 

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