The pistachio tree is long-lived, possibly up to 300 years.The trees are planted in orchards, and take approximately seven to ten years to reach significant production. Production is alternate-bearing or biennial-bearing, meaning the harvest is heavier in alternate years. Peak production is reached around 20 years. Trees are usually pruned to size to make the harvest easier. One male tree produces enough pollen for eight to twelve drupe-bearing females. Harvesting in the United States and in Greece is often accomplished using equipment to shake the drupes off the tree. After hulling and drying, pistachios are sorted according to open-mouth and closed-mouth shells, then roasted or processed by special machines to produce pistachio kernels.
In California, almost all female pistachio trees are the cultivar ‘Kerman’. A scion from a mature female ‘Kerman’ is grafted onto a one-year-old rootstock.
Diseases and environment
See also: list of pistachio diseases
Pistachio trees are vulnerable to numerous diseases and infection by insects such as Leptoglossus clypealis. Among these is infection by the fungus Botryosphaeria, which causes panicle and shoot blight (symptoms include death of the flowers and young shoots), and can damage entire pistachio orchards. In 2004, the rapidly growing pistachio industry in California was threatened by panicle and shoot blight first discovered in 1984. In 2011, anthracnose fungus caused a sudden 50% loss in the Australian pistachio harvest. Several years of severe drought in Iran around 2008 to 2015 caused significant declines in production.
Pistachios are a nutritionally dense food. In a 100 gram serving, pistachios provide 562 calories and are a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value or DV) of protein, dietary fiber, several dietary minerals and the B vitamins, thiamin and especially vitamin B6 at 131% DV (table). Pistachios are a good source (10–19% DV) of calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B5, folate, vitamin E, and vitamin K (table).
The fat profile of raw pistachios consists of saturated fats, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fatty acids include palmitic acid (10% of total) and stearic acid (2%). Oleic acid is the most common monounsaturated fatty acid (51% of total fat) and linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid, is 31% of total fat. Relative to other tree nuts, pistachios have a lower amount of fat and calories but higher amounts of potassium, vitamin K, γ-tocopherol, and certain phytochemicals such as carotenoids and phytosterols.