Pruning Pistachio Trees: Learn How To Prune Pistachio Nut Trees

Pistachio nuts growing on a tree in an orchard in central California growing region
Image by tfoxfoto

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Pistachio trees are attractive deciduous trees that thrive in long, hot, dry summers and moderately chilly winters. Although care of the desert trees is relatively uninvolved, pruning pistachio trees is important for commercial orchardists who use machines to harvest the pistachios. For the home gardener, pruning is less important and is primarily used to increase yields and control the size of the tree. Read on for helpful pistachio pruning tips.

How and When to Prune Pistachio Trees

According to California Rare Fruit Growers, initial pruning involves training the pistachio tree to a central leader with four or five primary (scaffold) limbs about 4 feet above the ground. The lowest branch should be about 2 to 3 feet above the ground.

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Plan carefully, as this will be the primary structure of the tree. For example, although the branches should be equi-distant around the circumference of the tree, they shouldn’t be directly across from one another.

All other branches should be cut as evenly with the trunk as possible. This initial pruning should take place in spring of the first growing season.

Prune the primary branches to lengths of 24 to 36 inches in June. This will force each of the primary limbs to develop side branches, which results in a fuller, bushier tree.

Trimming a Pistachio Tree

Once the tree is trained to a central leader, little pruning is required and too much reduces harvest. However, weak or damaged branches should be removed, along with branches that cross or rub other branches.

Trimming a pistachio tree can be done in spring and summer, with a final trim when the tree is dormant in autumn.

With a good trimming of pistachio, you’re sure to maintain the health and vigor of your tree, along with an endless supply of tasty pistachios each season!

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