USF Garden Project

Tree Reports

Valeria Vital

Almond Fruit Tree Make Up
Almond and related species are native to the Mediterranean climate region of the Middle East. The almond and its close relative, the peach, probably evolved from the same ancestral species in south-central Asia. In 2002, there were over 500,000 acres of almonds in California, making it the most widely planted tree crop in the state. California is the only state that produces almonds commercially. The industry value was $1.05 billion in 2002, and prices received were $1.01/lb. There are about 530,000 acres of almonds throughout the central valley of California.

Small to medium sized tree with a spreading, open canopy, usually 10-15 feet in commercial orchards. Leaves 3-5″, linear or slightly ovate, about 3-4 times longer than wide, with acute tips and finely serrate margins.

Pollination Almonds are self-incompatible, and require cross-pollination. Pollinators (honey bees) are absolutely essential, especially since cool, wet weather can occur at the relatively early blooming period.

A nut. The entire fruit including the hull is a drupe; however, the hull dries and splits prior to harvest, revealing what appears to be the pit of the fruit. Fruiting begins in 3-4 yr old trees, with maximal production in 6-10 years. Unlike its short-lived cousin the peach, almond trees can produce for 50+ years. Thinning is unnecessary; a high proportion of flowers must set fruit for normal cropping.

Soils and Climate Deep, loamy, well-drained soils, but will tolerate poor soils
Requires mild winters, and long, rain-less, hot summers with low humidity.

Propagation Almonds are budded onto seedling rootstocks. Trees are trained to an open center shape in the first year. At maturity, pruning consists of water sprout removal, removal of dead and interfering branches, and limb thinning.

Maturity The hull splits at maturity, and nuts physically separate from the tree at this point. Trees are harvested when hulls of fruit in the interior of the canopy are open, since these split last. The seed coat turns brown during the drying-out process of maturation. Delay in harvest increases risk of navel orange worm infestation.

Harvest Method in California, mechanical tree shakers harvest trees. Young trees may be damaged by shakers, so are harvested by hand knocking in the first few years. Nuts are then left to dry on the ground for 1-2 weeks, and then swept into windrows for harvesting. I’m sure we will have to pick them.

Post harvest Handling Fruits may be dried and hulled immediately, or stockpiled for fumigation against Navel Orange worm after harvest. Nuts are dried by forced hot air until their moisture content reaches 5-7%. Nuts are then dehulled and shelled. In-shell nuts can be stored in bins for weeks or months until final processing. Nuts are then shelled and sorted for size and appearance. Last, nuts are bleached for color improvement, then salted, roasted, and/or flavored before packaging.

Storage Almonds can be stored for months either in-shell or shelled if dry, or very long periods when frozen (years). Commercially, nuts for long-term storage are fumigated for navel orange worm and kept at temps below 40F.

This is what I found another web site saying: (pretty similar but couple new things)
It is in flower from March to April, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil.

There is also likely to be a shortage of pollinating insects around when the tree is in flower so hand pollination may improve the crop. Although partially self-fertile, better crops are obtained if at least 2 cultivars are grown [200]. There are two basic forms of almonds, one with bitter seeds and one with ‘sweet’ seeds. The bitterness is caused by the presence of hydrogen cyanide (see notes above). Although the bitter forms are used in making marzipan and as food flavoring, the seeds themselves should not be eaten. Even the sweet forms should not be eaten in very large quantities. (Approximately 900 seeds at one time are considered to be a toxic dose for the average adult). Trees are hardier when grown on a plum rootstock [11]. Almond seedlings are the preferred rootstock when plants are grown on hot dry soils, peach rootstocks are better for heavier soils [200]. Trees are at least partially self-sterile. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged [238]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus [200].

3/4 cup toasted slivered almonds, cooled
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons water
Toasted sliced almonds and additional toasted slivered almonds

With electric blender, very finely chop almonds, pulsing on and off and being careful not to over blend; set aside. In medium bowl thoroughly mix flour, baking powder and salt. In mixer bowl beat butter 2 minutes, then add granulated sugar and beat until well mixed and creamy. Beat in egg and extract to blend thoroughly. Gradually beat in almonds and flour mixture to blend thoroughly.

Gather dough into a ball and divide into 3 equal balls. Pat into 3, 1/2-inch-thick circles and refrigerate 30 minutes between sheets of wax paper. Preheat oven to 375 degrees 15 minutes before rolling out dough. Coat baking sheets with vegetable cooking spray. On lightly floured surface roll out dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut with 2- to 3-inch angel shape or other cookie cutters. Place angels on baking sheets 1 inch apart. Bake in center of oven 10 to 12 minutes just until bottoms of cookies begin to turn golden. Let cool 5 minutes; remove to racks to cool completely.

In small bowl whisk powdered sugar with enough of the water to make a thin spreadable glaze. With a table knife or the back of a spoon cover each cookie with glaze. Arrange sliced or slivered almonds on wings, then return to rack; dry glaze completely, then decorate, if you wish, with colored icing in tubes and colored sprinkles. Allow to dry, then carefully place on tray in a single layer and cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap; store up to 2 days. Or freeze and bring to room temperature before serving.

Servings: Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies, depending on size of cutter.

*To toast almonds, spread in an ungreased baking pan. Place in 350-degree oven and bake 5 to 10 minutes or until almonds are light golden brown; stir once or twice to ensure even browning. Note that almonds will continue to brown slightly after removing from oven.


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