How to start an Almond Farm
The almond tree is often included in lists with the top 5 or 10 most profitable plants to grow. However, these studies may assume optimum climate conditions for almond trees, and these conditions cannot be found anywhere. Consequently, location is maybe the most important parameter when growing almond trees for profit. The tree thrives in certain climate conditions, and deviating significantly from these requirements will cost the grower in terms of production. Secondly, almond trees do not produce a good yield until the 5th or 6th year, even with high quality management from experienced growers. A grower has to be patient and of course proactive to carry the costs of the first years without expecting remarkable income. To this, you have to add that the almond tree (as many other fruit trees) has an inherent tendency toward Alternate Bearing (the tree produces a very good yield in one year and a low –if not zero- yield in the following year). This of course creates many problems, as the grower in many cases cannot project the yield of his/her orchard and cannot proceed to timely commercial agreements with merchants. Alternate Bearing also results in fluctuations in revenues from year to year and deterioration of cash flow projections.
Pollination, Planting, Irrigation, Fertilization, Pruning and Pest Control are very important for the quantity and quality of production and represent the majority of costs. Finally, the harvesting is a labor intensive procedure when carried out by hand. In organized almond orchards in US, harvesting is made via big shaking tractors that attach to the trees and shake the branches, so that the fruits can fall to the ground, where they are often left for a couple of days in order to dry out. Then, they are collected and sorted.
The average almond tree enters maturity period (and hence can produce good yields) from the 8th year of its age. Its life expectancy is estimated at 50 years.
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3. Starting an Almond Orchard
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