The blooming of beautiful white flowers on almond trees, which in the northern hemisphere usually happens in February and March, marks the beginning of the process that will eventually produce delectable almonds. Although the flowers are enticing, you don't want to get too close: Once the flowers bloom, growers depend on bees to do the pollination work because the trees can't pollinate themselves like other fruit plants.
If pollinated successfully, a grayish-green fruit will begin to appear as the flowers fade. This fruit, also known as a drupe, will begin the growing and drying process during the late summer months. Almonds are ready for harvesting in early fall. Once the fruit has matured and the hull, or dried outer casing of the fruit, begins to open, the almond is ready to be processed. Mechanical tree shakers coax the nuts from their home, and they are gathered and separated for the harvesters' specific needs.
Almonds grow best in climates that have hot summers and warm winters. They require a bit of frost to encourage flowers to bloom, but temperate climates are best. Italy, Spain, the Middle East, parts of Australia, and South Africa all have great climates for almond cultivation, but California's Central Valley, a 450-mile stretch of land that covers much of the central area of the Golden State, has an ideal climate for almond growing. In fact, according to the California Almond Board, the state is the world's leading almond producer and is responsible for 80 percent of the entire planet's almonds.
The walnut is another well-loved nut. Keep reading to learn all about walnuts.
To learn more about nuts, see:
- Nut basics
- History of Nuts
- Health Benefits of Nuts