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Almond: Introduction and Importance:




  • Almond (Prunus amygdalus) is one of the important stone fruit grown in Pakistan. It is also included in nuts according to its usage. It is very delicious with high nutritional value because of its oil contents. Almond is a high value crop and one of the most non-perishable nut fruit. When dried it can easily be kept for a year or even more. Its market demand is always there. Previously, it was grown mainly in Baluchistan province.

    Introduction and Importance:

    Almond (Prunus amygdalus) is one of the important stone fruit grown in Pakistan. It is also included in nuts according to its usage. It is very delicious with high nutritional value because of its oil contents. Almond is aa high value crop and one of the most non-perishable nut fruit. When dried it can easily be kept for a year or even more. Its market demand is always there. Previously, it was grown mainly in Baluchistan province. However, with the introduction of early ripening varieties, this has now become possible to grow the crop in comparatively dry areas of Pothwar tract where ever soil irrigation is available.

    Almond nuts have a great value both from consumer as well as from grower side. One of the main reasons being its limited production sites. However, with the identification of new varieties, crop can be grown on vast areas of Pothwar tracts. Hence, its production is likely to increase. 

    Above all being non-perishable nut, has great export potential. It can be exported as a dried nut as well as in form of presentable, attractive packs of roasted kernels to Middle East and Europe markets. 

    Production Technology Varieties:


    NWFP: Jordonala, Non Parral, Mission, Utra Balochistan: Ktha, Kaghzi, Quetta Selection

    Sowing, Planting and Growth: 

    Suitable age of nursery plant for transplanting            : 1 to 1.5 years 

    Time for Transplanting                                              : Jan. and Feb. 

    Time to start of bearing                                            : 3-4 years 

    Time to full production                                              : 5-6 years 

    Normal economic bearing life                                    : 10-15 years

    Time of annual flowering                                           : Feb. & Mar.

    Time of harvest: Sept. to Oct.

    Pits should be prepared in Nov./Dec. 1-2 months before transplanting. Almonds are self sterile and therefore farmers need to plant one pollenizer per 10 fruit trees in the orchard. The pollenizer will be a different variety to the main crop so that it will fertilize the flowers of the main crops. Farmers should have technical guidance to select the pollenisers. Pollenisers should be spread uniformly through the orchard. Planting should be on a square pattern.

    Spacing    6.5 x 6.5 m (20 x 20′) Trees per acre  109 tree/acre

    Pruning
    Heading back:
    Immediately after transplanting, plants are headed back to a height of 45-50 cm. The tree should be left with 3-4 well spread branches as a frame on which to train/shape the trees to a modified leader system. Annual Pruning: One year old wood is pruned each year in Dec./Jan. when tree is completely dormant.

    Thinning: This is only necessary if the tree is too heavily loaded. An indication of this is when branches are weighed down with the fruit and liable to break. Thinning should not be more than 20% of fruit. Thinning will improve the quality of fruit. It can be done mechanically through shaking, by hands, with sticks or applying chemicals.

    Intercropping
    Intercropping is possible when trees are young, upto 3-4 years old. Berseem, and onion are suitable intercrops. Excessive irrigation of intercrops may harm the fruit trees.

    Water Management

    Annual waster requirements                                           300-400 mm.

    Rooting depth:                                                              2 to 2.5 m.

    Allowable depletion of soil water in the root zone:             30%

    Range of application depth of water                                 75-80 mm

    Irrigation intervals:                                                         10-15 days.

    Growth periods most sensitive to water shortages are flowering (Feb & Mar) and fruit development (April, May and June).

    The preferred method of irrigation is a basin around each tree the size of the canopy above. There should be channels connecting the basins so that irrigation of the trees scan be independent of the intercropped area between. the season for this is that the trees and the intercrops require different amounts of water.

    Fertilizers and Manures:

    Apply FYM around each tree at rate of 15-30 kg/tree. each winter season (Dec. to Jan.)

    Apply 3 kg SSP and 1 to 1.5 kg Urea per tree before flowering S(Dec. to Jan.) Irrigate immediately to incorporate fertilizer.

    1 to 1.5 kg Urea per tree should best applied after fruit setting and before fruit attains 50% size (April to May). This should be immediately incorporated through irrigation.

    Pest and diseases:

    Aphids: These are the main pest. They attack leaves and fresh shoots and young fruit of trees. Apply Dimecron @ 1 to 1.5 litre in 100 liters of water per acre. This should be sprayed onto the trees. Choose windless days and follow safely precautions.

    Harvesting:
    When almonds are ripe, the hulls shrivel, crack, open and separate from the shell. After being hulled, the nuts are dried in the sun in shallow bags until the kernels can be broken without bending. After being dried they are bleached lightly in sulphur fumes to retain a golden yellow colour in the shell and are graded, after which they are stored in a cool, dry place to prevent them from becoming rancid. Well dried nuts may keep in such a place for more than a year. The almonds are also salted and roasted, usually skins are removed before roasting. Almonds are also eaten before they dry, when the embryos first fill the seed coats. This gives a milky taste.

    Key Reference : parc.gov.pk

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