Saturday, February 27, 2010

Latest research: Stop pruning your almond trees!

"Many of us grew up believing in the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, but at some point in our childhood we realized they were just fairy tales. As difficult as it may be, grown men will someday have to realize the same thing about pruning their almond orchards." Says this research article authored by our friend, Prof. Roger Duncan.


  • The notion that almond trees need to be pruned every year to increase or sustain yields appears to be just flat wrong. 
  • Past and current University of California trials suggest that growers are not getting a return on their pruning investment. In fact, the numbers suggest the opposite: the more growers prune, the more they may reduce their yields and profits, even in the long term. 
  • I know that the “need” to prune almonds is so deeply ingrained in our brains that it may be difficult to change our ways. However, the scientific evidence is now so compelling that it is hard to ignore. 
  • Orchards older than 10 years should not be pruned for the purpose of sustaining yields, period. Realistically, almond orchards have to be pruned a little on occasion for reasons other than yield. Limbs that are dead, broken or diseased, or are safety hazards for equipment operators have to be removed. 
  • Conclusion: A good compromise may be to train the trees during the first two years (to reduce scaffold splitting and safety pruning in later years) and then abandon pruning in later years.

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