Selecting almond varieties is not an easy task, as there is no such thing as a perfect one, but a choice growers must live with for a long time. Local conditions including soil type and condition, water quality, topography and climate must be considered when choosing varieties and rootstocks. Once varieties are selected, additional decisions must be made to determine tree spacing and orientation, and managing the orchard to optimize light interception.
Among the many attributes growers must consider are:
From 1996 to 2006, regional variety trials, sponsored by the Almond Board, were conducted by University of California Extension researchers to determine the attributes and performance of available varieties under different growing conditions. A new series of regional variety trials were planted in early 2014, with orchards in Chico, Salida and Chowchilla representing some of the variation seen within California’s almond-growing region. A number of varieties in these trials are self-compatible. The results of this ongoing research help growers determine the optimum varieties for their own individual needs and resources.
Tree Spacing & Pruning
A decade of Almond Board–funded research continues to challenge once-held assumptions about almond pruning and tree spacing and their impacts on efficient almond production.
To optimize production, the orchard should be designed and managed to maximize light interception through pruning, training and spacing while still allowing light to reach the orchard floor.
Research trials throughout California have demonstrated that there are many reasons to prune an almond orchard, but yield does not appear to be one of them. Trials have also confirmed that traditional tree spacing of 22 feet by 22 feet or more is too far apart to intercept the light necessary to optimize per-acre production in the orchard.