Another advantage of pistachios is that they can tolerate poorer soils, especially those with a high salt content, which is absolutely essential for many producers on the west side of the San Joaquín Valley, where groundwater is notoriously salty. The pistachios that are planted today in northwestern Arizona have an estimated eight-hour truck ride to the nearest processing plant. One of the main problems faced by pistachio producers is the time it takes for their orchards to start producing a significant harvest of pistachios. Second, pistachios don't produce a good yield until their seventh or eighth year, even with high-quality management by experienced growers.
As producers plant about 10,000 acres of pistachios in northwestern Arizona and more trees grow in that state, in the southeastern corner, processing capacity is the limiting factor for continuing to cultivate. However, a fully productive pistachio plantation can be a profitable venture, especially when done on a larger scale. And while more almonds are exported in terms of weight, Matoian says that pistachios rank second in economic value. However, the labor landscape has also had a lot to do with it, as producers seek to reduce their dependence on labor by planting more mechanized crops.
He said that what led him to remove some hectares of almond trees in favor of pistachios was that pistachios produce longer and adapt better to desert environments, since they demand less water. The story is still somewhat different for pistachios, as they are the only one of the state's three major nut crops that are still profitable. Keep in mind that many variations can affect yield: climate, pistachio variety, maintenance, pest and disease control, diet, irrigation, etc. Even so, pistachio prices remained lucrative for producers, thanks to successful marketing efforts by American pistachio producers.
The alternative production nature of pistachios continues to moderate supply, while in the case of almonds, unprecedented harvests, year after year, caught up with that industry in a year marked by the pandemic and the economic slowdown. Pistachios are capable of producing nuts for more than 100 years and live for around 300 years under the right conditions. Pistachios are grown in California and the rest come from Arizona and New Mexico; last year they harvested their first billion-pound crop.