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The path taken by the pistachio tree in its first steps before reaching the field is full of curiosities. Farmers must carefully decide on a series of parameters to ensure the success of their harvest and the quality of the pistachio that will reach the consumers' plates.

Young grafted tree. The union of the rootstock with the producing variety can be seen (Nuevos Cultivos Agrarios)

The pistachio fruit, as we know, comes from a tree (sometimes cultivated as a shrub, as in Iran). The tree is made up of two parts:

  • On the one hand: the rootstock, which is the part anchored to the ground,

  • On the other hand: linked to the rootstock is the fruit fruit-bearing variety.

The choice of the producing variety and the type of rootstock is the first question to be solved, and for both, there are 2 options on the market:

  • Open varieties, which are not subject to any patent and can be freely acquired because they are in the public domain and have been known for years.

  • And registered varieties: these are the result of an extensive research and selection program. The breeding of a new variety can take much more than 15 years, and is mostly done by crossing and selection in the field. The requirements for declaring a variety are that it must be distinct, uniform, stable and new with respect to existing varieties. This is a slow, uncertain and costly process. For this reason, the law allows the registering the varieties resulting from this process, thus allowing recovery of the investment and reinvestment in research. In this way, innovation for the development of new varieties can be financed and the progress of the sector can be guaranteed.

Seedlings in seedbed (Viveros Zuaime)

In the case of commercially available pistachio rootstocks, there are no protected varieties on the market, all are open.

However, for fruit-producing varieties, there are both free varieties (such as Kerman, Larnaka and Sirora) and registered varieties (Golden Hills and Lost Hills). Registered varieties provide added value in agronomic and commercial characteristics such as time of flowering and ripening, yield potential and percentage of open fruits, as well as required chill hours and time of harvest (earlier or later than other varieties).

Once the producer has chosen the producing variety and the rootstock, he needs to obtain a sufficient number of trees for his operation. To do so, he needs the collaboration of a tree nursery, which will produce the rootstocks and graft them with the chosen producing variety.

Another important element for both growers and nurseries is to obtain Certified Category trees (blue label), as it guarantees the phytosanitary status and the variety chosen. Currently, there is no obligation to produce Certified Category pistachio trees in Spain, since only the CAC Category (yellow label) is mandatory. However, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has opened the possibility for nurseries to start the production process of certified category pistachio plants. From the EPC, we encourage our associated nurseries to apply for this certification for their plants, and we can offer advice on the process.

Sample label for Certified Category plant (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

Sample CAC Plant Label (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

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