All almond trees, even the dulcis, which are grown for nuts, are pretty ornamental. Their culture is very similar to the peach. Almonds bloom extremely early in the spring with white or pink blossoms, and are even more susceptible than peaches to bud damage from spring frosts. As a result, cold northern areas require hardy, late-blooming varieties. Before you plant, cultivate the soil as deeply as possible for the almonds deep roots. Rain and high humidity during the bloom season can interfere with pollination, reduce yields, and promote fungal and bacterial diseases. Also, in humid summers the hulls may not split. If your area is noted for this type of spring or summer, almonds may not be for you. Almonds thrive in long, dry summers supplemented by irrigation and can produce nuts for up to 50 years.
Unlike walnuts, as almonds mature the outer hull splits to expose the inner nuts; as the nuts dry, they fall to the ground. The nuts can also be knocked down onto canvas sheets. Don't harvest until the hulls of the nuts on the inner part of the tree have split open; they will be last. Spread nuts in a thin layer before hulling those that haven't fallen of the hull. Unless wet, hull immediately.
Place hulled nuts in water. Remove the rotten or diseased nuts that float. Dry immediately at 110°F. They're ready for storage when the kernels rattle in the shell, or, when unshelled, the nutmeat snaps when bent. Avoid big piles of nuts, which encourage rot. Fresh or frozen almonds (shelled or unshelled) can be stored in dry cool place (below 40°F) for 12+ months.
Height: Dwarf: 8-10 ft. Semidwarf: 10-20 ft. Standard: 20-30 ft.
Spacing: Dwarf: 8 ft. Semidwarf: 8-10 ft. Standard: 24-30 ft.
Root Depth: Very deep
Bearing Age: 3-4 years
Pollination: Most need cross-pollination; the pollinate cultivar can be grafted to main cultivar.
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Chilling Requirements: 300-500 hours below 45°F
Site: Full sun; south or south-east exposure; can withstand poor soil.
Water: Water deeply and let roots dry out between applications. Watering in fall and winter is very important. Mature trees are drought resitant and prefer dry summers.
Fertilizer: Heavy feeder. Low N for trees under 2 years. Appropriate new growth is 6-10 in.
Side-dressing: Apply compost late autumn.
Training: Free-standing tree: open center, vase.
Pruning: Prune young trees minimally with little or no heading back, which delays bearing and stimulates extra leaf growth. When more mature, thin out crowded or competing branches, as well as the short, stubby spurs which bear nuts.
Almond Pests and Diseases
Boxelder bug, brown almond mite, codling moth, filberworm, leaf-footed bug, mite, navel orabgeworm, nematode, peach twig borer.
Bacterial canker, brown rot, crown gall, crown rot, leaf blight, leaf scab, peach leaf curl.