After five years of pistachio cultivation being tested in the experimental farm of Las Nogueras de Arriba, in Caravaca de la Cruz, promising results have been presented at a technical conference held by Murcia's Council of Water, Agriculture, Fisheries, Livestock and Environment, where it has outlined the behavior of different irrigated pistachio varieties under normal and intensive cultivation.
Counsellor Antonio Luengo stressed that pistachios "can become a profitable crop in the Region of Murcia if they are produced in suitable areas, such as the Altiplano and the Northwest regions, and with the right choice of varieties." He added that "although the productions tend to be slightly lower than those of irrigated almond trees, pistachio prices more than triple those of the most expensive almonds."
The event attracted many participants, including producers in neighboring regions. After the presentations, the behavior of each of the varieties, the quality of their productions, as well as the harvesting and peeling processes were shown in the field.
The results reveal that there are pistachio varieties, such as the Sirora, capable of yielding productions that come close to those of almond trees; however, their pruning is simpler and cheaper, they require fewer phytosanitary treatments, and water and fertilizer costs are more than 50% lower than those of any other irrigated fruit crop.
The Sirora variety stands out from other varieties, with more than 1,200 kilos of dried pistachio per hectare, with the highest percentage of open fruits, the lowest number of non-commercial fruits and medium-large sizes.
The Council will continue to disseminate the results of this trial to inform producers about the profitability of pistachio cultivation. The initiative has been co-financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Council.
In Spain, there are 25,000 hectares of pistachio trees planted. By regions, Castile-La Mancha stands out, with 20,000 hectares, followed by Andalusia, with 3,000 hectares, Extremadura, with 900, and Castile-León, with 700. According to the latest statistics (2018), there are 695 hectares of pistachio trees planted in the Region of Murcia, out of which 277 hectares are rainfed and 418 irrigated. More than half of these plantations are still new and not yet of productive age.