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In selecting Almond varieties for your planting it is helpful to understand that there is no perfect almond variety. Recognizing each variety’s strengths and weaknesses will help you make better management decisions in your new orchard.

 

Nonpareil and its Pollinizers
Nonpareil – blooms 3rd week of February; harvest at the end of August; medium sized kernel with excellent quality and flavor- commands top position in marketplace; paper shell, upright/spreading growth habit. The pollinizers for Nonpareil in order of popularity include:

• Aldrichblooms with or slightly ahead of Nonpareil; harvest 14 days after Nonareil; very productive; considered an excellent Nonpareil pollinizer; nut characterisitics similar to Merced; shell is well sealed; 62% crack out; tree is upright similar to Mission in growth habit. Pruning and topping is very important in first three years. Performs best in heavier soils.

• Carmel
– blooms 2 days after Nonpareil; harvest 15 days + after Nonpareil; very productive; kernel is medium sized and elongated; well-sealed soft shell; medium sized tree with upright/spreading growth habit; excellent pollinizer for Nonpareil, Monterey and possibly Butte; susceptible to non-infectious bud failure (crazy top). Pollinator.



• Fritz
blooms with or slightly ahead of Nonpareil, harvest 40 days after Nonpareil; considered best pollinizer for Nonpareil due to its bloom timing and pollen compatibility. Consistentl productive; medium-small, ovate kernel with semi-hard shell; medium sized upright/spreading willowy growth habit.

• Monterey
– blooms 2 days after Nonpareil, harvest 26 day after Nonpareil; large, elongated kernel with high percentage of doubles; well sealed soft shell; very heavy and precocious producer, tree is medium sized with sprawling-spreading growth habit, often used used in combination with Carmel one on one.

• Price – blooms with Nonpareil. Harvest 7 + days after Nonpareil; medium small plump kernel and paper shell; may exhibit alternate bearing; vigorous, very easy to train upright, spreading tree.

• Sonora – blooms 4 + days before Nonpareil, tendancy to alternate bloom, considered less frost sensitive than other early blooming varieties. Harvest 7 + days after Nonpareil; medium sized elongated, light colored kernel; paper shell is often poorly sealed; medium sized tree with slightly spreading growth habit similar to Carmel. Requires a good yearly pruning program in order to promote vigor in order to reduce alternate bearing.

• Winters (UC 13-1) – blooms 2 days before Nonpareil; harvest 14 days after Nonpareil; kernel is medium sized and elongated; well sealed soft shell; consistent high yields at test plots; vigorous upright spreading tree, may be susceptible to anthracnose and alternaria.

• Wood Colony – blooms 1 + days after Nonpareil. Harvest 14 days after Nonpareil; productive, tree is is small to medium with upright, spreading growth habit. This variety on hybrid rootstock should be considered due to its small tree size.

 

Butte a Pollinizer for Nonpareil?
This question is often asked. Fortunately Butte is the earliest blooming variety in the late variety category and may possibly be considered as long as a secondary pollinator is used to cover the early Nonpareil bloom. Varieties most often used in order of popularity are Carmel, Aldrich, Fritz and Wood Colony. Caution shold be used in selecting the right variety to ensure optimum bloom coverage and pollen compatibility.
A cautionary note: Do not get caught in a situation similar to the old Nonpareil, Neplus and Mission combinations, where bloom can be spread too far apart.

Butte and its Pollinizers
The Butte variety is considered the most consistent and historically the highest yielding variety in the Central Valley. Butte is often planted with Padre one on one in smaller parcels. Again, the size of the planting and harvest timing can determine whether or not you should consider a third pollinator. Data has shown that the third pollinator will enhance overall pollination and increase your production.

Example: 50% Butte, 25% Padre and 25% Mission. Replace either Padre or Mission with Alamo, Livingston or Ruby. These varieties are all considered hard shell with the exception of Livingston, which is often ignored due to its soft shell and earlier harvest compared to the Butte, Padre, Mission and Ruby varieties. Carmel has been used as a pollinizer for Butte with good success. The consistency of high yields of Butte combinations emphasize the importance of diversifying a certain percentage of your total operations to hard shells, thus will help increase your average production in those poor pollination years on the early blooming varieties.

• Butte – blooms 5 days after Nonpareil, harvest 14 days after Nonpareil; considered the most productive and consistent almond variety in the Central Valley; small to medium kernel with semi-hard, well-sealed shell; vigorous spreading strong structured tree similar to Neplus growth habit.

• Padre – blooms 5 days after Nonpareil, harvest 26 days after Nonpareil; hard shell, medium-small kernel similar to Mission though slightly smaller; good producer with potential for high yields; upright tree similar to Mission in growing habit.

• Livingston – blooms 5 days after Nonpareil, harvest 8 days after Nonpareil; medium sized kernel; well sealed paper shell; very productive, upright, medium to large sized tree.

• Mission – blooms 6 days after Nonpareil, harvest 28 days after Nonpareil; kernel is medium-small and plump; very well sealed hard shell; consistently productive; susceptible to injury by salt in soil or irrigation water; tree is large and upright.

• Ruby – blooms 8 days after Nonpareil, harvest 30 days after Nonpareil; medium-small, plump kernel with semi-hard well sealed shell; productive, moderately vigorous tree with upright growth habit.

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