Almonds, also known as Prunus dulcis, are in the Rosaceae family and originated in Western Asia. The tree is mostly self-pollinating but can reproduce through grafting to other trees such as peach or apricot trees. Almond is a famous tree that produces nuts used for harvesting oil, butter, and milk. But it should be noted that almond fruit contains a poison called prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide) which is odorless and tasteless so when eating the fruit must beware of children because its consumption could cause death if eaten raw.
The tree grows best in areas with cool winters and dry summers like California where almond farmers grow approximately 75 percent of the world’s almonds per year. It takes only four years for trees to fully produce throughout a variety of soils but should not be planted in soil containing heavy clay or frozen soil.
Almond trees need full sun and grow well on both large and small farms that are located in areas with water sources like rivers, lakes, and streams. When planting an almond tree, dig the hole twice as wide and deep as the root mass of the plant. This will allow for proper drainage and help prevent water from collecting around the trunk. Almond trees need well-drained soil so if there is a high possibility that water can collect in any area, line the holes with pre-soaked organic mulch before putting down a tarp to cover it up, or use an open weave cloth that allows for aeration but blocks out light and water.
Almonds require 110 frost-free days per year which means they should be planted in areas where temperatures do not drop below 10 degrees Fahrenheit during winter months. The best time to plant almond trees is between February through May due to early spring soil temperature is still cool enough to promote root growth and blossoming.
After the three initial years, a copper spray can be used to prevent disease or infection but it is not necessary after that point because of its ability to repel insects. The pruning stage happens at first when the tree is planted and every year thereafter which involves cutting off one-third of the branches in order to reduce stress on the trunk and encourage branching. After four to five years almond trees will produce nuts, especially during windy weather conditions with both male and female flowers blooming simultaneously within about 10 days after pollination occurs.
Male flowers are seen as thin yellowish-white “stamens”, while female flowers appear as small pink flushed green buds that turn into plump green fruits called drupes Once the flowers fall off the trees, it is important that fruit be harvested as soon as possible because if left alone they may attract diseases.
The mature almond tree can grow up to 20 feet tall. When harvesting the fruit, it is recommended that one shakes or shimmies the branches in order for them to fall off so that there is no damage done to the trunk and branches. After harvesting, wash fruits well with water because many pests may attack the fruit if left on trees too long.