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Growing Almond: Prunus dulcis

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Overview

Almonds, members of the Rose family and the Prunus genus, are related to apricots, cherries, peaches, and plums.

Description

Form: Tree.
Lifespan: 40-150 years. Commercial trees are cut down after 28 years because their declining crop yield makes it more profitable to replace them.
Leaf retention: Deciduous.
Growth rate: Rapid.
Mature Size: 10-30' high and as wide depending on cultivar.
Flowers: White to pink, five petals, fragrant, solitary or paired, appearing before leaves develop. Flowers bloom on one year old wood. Late spring frosts can kill flowers and reduce fruit production.
Bloom: Early spring. Late frosts can destroy blooms and new fruit. This tree tends to be alternate bearing, blooming and fruiting heavily one year, then lightly the next.
Self-fruitful: Depends on cultivar. Most dwarf and semi-dwarf cultivars for home gardens are self-fruitful. Full size commercial cultivars are usually not.
Years before fruiting: 3-4.
Fruit: A thick, leathery, downy, grey-green hull covers a hard inner shell enclosing the almond seed. The seed is commonly called a nut.
Months for fruit to ripen: 8.
Harvest: Almond seeds ripen starting from the top of the tree and working down. Wait until nearly all the hulls have split, revealing their shells. If bird predation becomes a problem, start harvesting a little sooner. Remove the hulls and place them into a composter, then spread the almonds out in a single layer to dry.
Storage after harvest: Fully dried almonds can be stored at room temperature for up to eight months, or in a refrigerator for up to one year.
Leaves: Green, serrated margins, lance-shaped.
Stems: Light grey bark.
Roots: Commonly grown on selected rootstock.
Cultivars of Note:
'Garden Prince' This genetic dwarf grows 10-12' high, needs 250 chill hours, is self-fruitful, and requires very well-drained soil.
'All-in-One' This genetic semi-dwarf grows 15' high, requires a hot summer to ripen, is very winter and frost hardy, needs 300-400 chill hours, and is self-fruitful.
Wildlife: The flowers attract bees and other pollinating insects.
Toxic / Danger: All parts of the tree are toxic except the ripe almond seed.
Origin: Near East. Almonds have been domesticated more than 5000 years.

Cultivation and Uses

USDA hardiness zones: 7-9.
Chill hours: 250-600.
Heat tolerant: Somewhat. Extra water and afternoon shade may be needed when temperatures are over 90°F. Avoid reflected light and heat.
Sun: Full sun for at least 8 hours.
Drought tolerant: Not without loss of fruit crop.
Water after becoming established: Basin flood weekly from flowering through fruit production.
Soil: The almond tree needs well draining soil 5' deep. Remove any caliche layer if required. It is tolerant of soil types but does better with moderate organic content. It accepts pH 5.6-8.5 (acidic to alkaline) soil, but does best in 6.6-7.8 (neutral to slightly alkaline) soil. This tree is saline intolerant.
Fertilize: Apply compost every two months from mid-winter to early fall.
Mulch: Apply 3" of compost mid-winter, keeping it 6" away from the trunk.
Planting: This tree can be grown in a large container.
Prune: Keep the soil weed-free under the drip line. In hot climates, apply tree paint to the trunk and exposed branches.
Litter: Dried fruit and leaves in the fall.
Propagation: Grafted cuttings.
Pests: Almond trees are prone to verticillium wilt, crown gall, mites, and other insect, fungal and bacterial diseases.
Uses: Edible seeds.

Comments

Prunus amygdalus is a synonym.



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Latest update: June, 2019