Almond (Sweet or Bitter almond): Prunus dulcis

PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS

There are two varieties, sweet almond (P. dulcis variety dulcis) and bitter almond (P. dulcis variety amara). Sweet almonds are the familiar, edible type consumed as nuts and used in cooking or as a source of almond oil or almond meal. The oil of bitter almonds is used in the manufacture of flavouring extracts for foods and liqueurs, though prussic acid must first be removed. Almonds may be eaten raw, blanched, or roasted and are commonly used in confectionery baking. In Europe almonds are used to make marzipan, a sweet paste used in pastries and candy, and in Asia almonds are often used in meat, poultry, fish, and vegetarian dishes.

The almond kernel is consumed either in the natural state or processed. Because of its good flavor, crunchy texture, and good visual appeal, it has many important food uses. As an ingredient in many manufactured food products, kernels may be roasted dry or in oil followed by salting with various seasonings (Schirra 1997;Woodroof 1979). The processed kernel is used either blanched or unblanched. Blanching removes the pellicle using hot water or steam. Large amounts of kernels are combined with chocolate in confectionery. Almond kernels can be sliced or diced to be used in pastry, ice cream, breakfast cereals, and vegetable mixtures. The kernels are also ground into paste to be used in bakery products and in the production of marzipan. The flavor and texture of almonds can be intensified or moderated through proper selection of cultivar, origin, moisture content, and processing and handling procedures.

 

ID&ECOLOGY

Almond tree grows to 10 m in height, forming a broad, pyramidal crown. The root system is strong and deep. Almond’s trunk is up to 30 cm in diameter, bark is smooth and gray-green youth, later becoming light gray and scaly, branches are bare and without thorns. The leaves are placed alternately, there are long stalk 2-3 cm, leaf blades are 10-12 cm in length, constrained peaks and jagged edges. They produce fragrant, five-petaled, light pink to white flowers. Flowers are monoecious, hermaphrodite, up to 2 cm in diameter, insect pollinated. They’re white or soft pink colored. Blooming start before leafing, but also in late winter, in period from February to March. Almond has drupes fruit. Fruiting begins in 3-4 yr old trees, with maximal production in 6-10 years. It starts ripen in a period from July to August when hairy gray-green exocarp (hull) shrinks together with mesocarp and take free endocarp (shell) which is filed by many dimples. Inside endocarp is located 1.5-3 cm length, flattened seed (kernel) brown colored. Almond trees prefer fertiled (rich in humus and mineral nutrients), well drained soils. Almonds, like other nut crops, are ideally grown on deep, fertiled, uniform, loam soils that provide an optimal combination of permeability, water retention, and root zone aeration. It thrives on neutral to slightly acid reaction and do not correspond to a heavy clay soils, alkaline and with a lot of ash. However, almond orchards can be successfully managed on soils with some limitations. The most suitable soil reaction for optimal development of almonds is pH 5 – 5.7.

Almond grows best in Mediterranean climates with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The optimal temperature for their growth is between 15 and 30 °C. Almonds appropriate habitats with mild warm climate zone  (Mediterranean basin). Almond tree grown on area with short, mild winters without extremly temperature fluctuations and long, humid summers and springs. It’s not tolerate to late spring frosts. Optimal temperature for almond is between -10 – 40° C (-24 – 50 ° C). It’s favore southern exposure with low to medium inclination. Average longevity is 70-80 years, but can be much more. It thrives on drained, loamy – sandy soils neutral to slightly acid reaction, rich in humus and mineral nutrients and do not correspond to a heavy clay soils, alkaline and with a lot of ash. The most suitable soil reaction for optimal development of almonds is pH 5 – 5.7.

Other resources:

http://www.uniprot.org/taxonomy/3755

http://www.fruit-crops.com/almond-prunus-dulcis/

https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Prunus_dulcis.html

http://faostat3.fao.org/home/E

MANAGEMENT

Most important product of Almond tree is fruit, especially seed. They’re managed as fruit tree orchard. Below the text is description how to establish own orchard.

 

Orchard Design
In preparing a site for planting, proper soil testing and exploration by digging pits or core samples should be the first step. Depending on the results, soil modification in preparation for planting can be as simple as ripping the plowpan in deep, uniform soils. Select and design an irrigation system before planting. Tree spacing varies depending on location, variety of almond and orchard design. Wider tree spacing permits vigorously growing trees to spread with less crowding. Trees are planted closer in areas where trees grow less vigorously. Most orchards are planted in the square or offset square pattern.

Configurations 

  • Square Orchard
  • Hedgerow Orchard
  • Quincunx Orchard
  • Hexagonal Orchard

    • Row Width: (6.5 – 6.9m)
    • In-Row Tree Spacing:. (6.5 – 6.9m)
    • Row Length: Variable, but a break is needed every quarter mile to accommodate equipment. At the end of each row, allow
    • (10.5m) to turn the equipment.
    • Loading Area: (15.2 x 152 m) to accommodate nut elevator and truck, including turning area.

Orchard Floor Management
Orchard floor management is extremely important to an almond grower because the crop is picked up from the soil surface after being knocked from the trees. A primary consideration for any cultural operation during the year should be to ensure that the orchard floor is in the best possible condition for harvesting.

  • Nontillage: Ground cover (usually volunteer winter annuals) mowed and maintained year round; improves water penetration, though overall water and nitrogen use increases; facilitates use of equipment by minimizing dust, soil compaction and increasing traction over wet ground; requires more precise timing of mowing tasks and spot treatment of perennial weeds. May need to disc every 4-5 years if soil is heavy clay or silt loam.
  • Planted Cover Crops: Most common are vetch, Blando bromegrass, and clovers, all of which require management and overall costs and water use are greater than using native volunteer annuals. Cover crops provide improved habitat for beneficial insects, create competition for summer weeds, increase atmospheric nitrogen fixation, and improve water penetration.
  • Tillage: Generally, tillage should be kept to a minimum. Don’t cultivate without a good reason. May use with intercrops for first 2 years of orchard establishment, with flood irrigation, with soil prone to sealing/compacting, and when incorporating herbicides, compost, or covercrops.
  • Strip Weed Control: Keep a 1.5m wide strip down the tree row clear of weeds using herbicides. This aids in mowing, reducing soil compaction, may reduce the incidence of Phytophthora crown rot and decreases interplant competition promoting tree growth.

TRADE

The most important producers in the world are USA (53%), Spain (24%) and Italy (11%), 12% include production rest of the World (Iran, Morocco, Greece ).

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