California’s Pistachio Trees Are “Shooting Blanks” This Year

published Sep 15, 2015
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(Image credit: Christian Jung)

“Shooting blanks” is not a phrase you usually see associated with nuts, but that’s the phrasing used to refer to pistachio nuts that never produce the meat inside, just hollow shells.

And this is a surprisingly widespread problem this year in California.

While hollow pistachios aren’t unusual, they usually only occur in about 10 percent of the crop. This year, however, it’s estimated that the crop from California, which has 99 percent of the nation’s pistachio farms, might have up to 50 percent blanks.

The cause of pistachio blanks? Last winter’s abnormally warm temperatures caused the male pistachio trees to release pollen at the wrong time so the female trees never got pollinated correctly.

We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the predicted El Niño California is expected to have this winter will bring both much-needed rain and colder temperatures to help next year’s crop along.

Read more: Oh, Nuts! Why California’s Pistachio Trees Are Shooting Blanks from Bay Area Bites, KQED Food