The work of the Association of Pistachio Producers and Marketers (Appistaco) allows growers to learn the basics about pistachio cultivation, for which there are about 600 hectares in Jaén and around a thousand in the whole of Spain.
Julián Navarro (Navas de San Juan, 1972) has been the president of Appistaco since February 2014. In that time, the association has welcomed more than 300 partners with a common interest: to promote pistachio cultivation. On February 26, which was World Pistachio Day, Jaén received about 200 producers who saw an opportunity to supplement the income generated by olives. The leading counties are El Condado, La Loma and Sierra Sur, although the crop is increasingly widespread. "Pistachios have been cultivated in our province for only thirty years. Not all producers have plantations set up, but they are showing interest and getting information through us," says the president.
Appistaco also exists as a limited society through the company of the same name. The group has the support of the Provincial Government of Jaén and Caja Rural. Both the provincial administration and the private entity give subsidies so that the producers can go into business with guarantees and a sufficient time margin.
Navarro explains that the second phase concerns the crop's marketing. "In this stage, we have the help of the City of Navas de San Juan, which has lent us 2,000 square meter warehouses for the processing plant; essential for the growers to obtain the maximum profit possible," he explains. According to Appistaco's estimations, pistachios have motivated an investment of between three and four million Euro taking into account everything and everyone involved in the entire process, including plants, day laborers and the work of surveyors.
Moreover, the association is responsible all year round for the organization of training activities, in which they outline the characteristics of the different varieties, such as the Kerman and Lost Hills, among others.
The pistachio season lasts from late September to late October. María Ballesteros (Navas de San Juan, 1987) has been a technician in the association for almost two years. A Bachelor in Biology, with a specialty in plant physiology, she is in charge of providing technical advice. For example, she stresses the importance of the climatic conditions, since the plant needs some hours of cold and some of heat.
Another important factor that producers must keep under control is the soil and its characteristics. "The most favorable for the crop are the sandy loam and the clayey loam," says the specialist. It is also crucial to know that the pruning needs to be carried out approximately at the beginning of February, and that the plant is in a vegetative stop from December to mid-March.
Ballesteros points out that the board of directors of Appistaco includes Dolores Martínez, one of the crop's pioneers and neighbor of Vados de Torralba, Villatorres. "She is one of our leaders. We have increasingly more female producers," she says with pride.
The technician states that the crop is booming, and that this should keep everyone on their toes. "There may be some willing to take advantage of the situation and try selling plants that are not actually the varieties that they are supposed to be; the plants must thus have a guarantee certificate," she points out. The crop is expanding, and not only the ones grown conventionally, but also the organic. "We make sure to let producers know that they have those two options," concludes Julián Navarro.