Almonds are an undemanding crop to care for, but whether a shrub will grow on a site depends on the species. Yielding edible fruits Common Almond and its many varieties are very thermophilic. You can get a stable harvest only in the Caucasus or Crimea. Planting and caring for an almond bush, the photo of which is shown below, is difficult mainly due to return frosts in the spring, destroying flowers or ovaries. The plant itself can withstand winter temperatures down to -25-30 ° C.
It is much easier to grow decorative almonds in the country, bred with the participation of other species that are more resistant to cold, and no one will expect nuts from them. The main thing is that the shrub decorates the site in spring, when other flowers have not yet had time to open.
Botanical description of almonds
Amygdalus or Almond is a subgenus belonging to the genus Plum, the Pink family. It consists of 40 species common in Eurasia and North America.
Almonds are deciduous shrubs or short trees no more than 10 m in height with gray or brownish cracked old bark and greenish gray, smooth young shoots. On the side facing the sun, they have an anthocyanin tint. Leaves in all species are greenish-gray, strongly elongated, with a sharp tip and a smooth or slightly serrate edge.
Symmetrical five-petal flowers, white or pink, usually open before the leaves and often suffer from recurrent frosts. The fruit is a drupe with a fleshy mesocarp, which dries out and cracks after the seed ripens.
The roots of almond shrubs are well adapted to the stony soil of dry mountain slopes. They consist of several powerful shoots, capable of reaching the lower layers of the soil in search of moisture, and a small number of fibrous roots.
The life span of the shrub depends on the cultivation and care of almonds. It is often planted in conditions that are not even approximately similar to natural ones. In nature, the culture lives up to 100 years, cultivation on industrial plantations and in gardens significantly shortens this period.
The most important economic value is the fruiting and very thermophilic Common Almond (Prunus dulcis). His flowers are also unusually beautiful, but the main task of culture is to produce a harvest. Distinguish between bitter almonds, obtained from the seeds of a species plant, and containing from 2 to 8% amygdalin and sweet (cultivated), in which the amount of this substance does not exceed 0.2%. When split, amygdalin releases hydrocyanic acid, so bitter varieties are more used in the pharmaceutical and perfumery industries, and sweet ones - for cooking.
Important! Heat treatment removes hydrocyanic acid from the nuts.
As an ornamental plant in Russia, varieties and hybrids of other types of almonds are grown:
- Steppe (Low, Bobovnik);
- Three-bladed (Luiseania Three-bladed).
Especially beautiful in spring is the Luiseania shrub, in which even the specific flowers are double. Some scientists distinguish the culture in a separate genus, but most include it in the subgenus Almond.
Optimal conditions for growing almonds
Perhaps, almonds are the most light-loving fruit crop. Not only does the shrub hate shade, it does not tolerate competition for sunlight with other plants. That is why it is impossible to meet almond thickets in nature. Trees and shrubs are located one by one or in groups of 3-4 specimens, located 5-7 meters from each other.
What at first glance seems to be small clumps in some species, is actually a root growth that grows abundantly around the main trunk. If the culture does not carry out annual pruning, then the old shoots, deprived of light, quickly dry out, new ones take their place. That is why even those types of almonds that form a tree become like a shrub.
The soil for growing crops should be well-permeable and drained, alkaline or carbonate, in extreme cases - neutral. Loams, light clays, stony soils are suitable for shrubs. Standing groundwater close to the surface is unacceptable, the minimum distance is 1.5 m.
The culture is quite drought tolerant. The natural conditions for its growth are mountains, rocky slopes, and a hot climate with scarce rainfall. Species plants require very little watering, varieties - more, but still a little. In an area with frequent rains, it makes no sense to plant a crop.
Those who argue that an almond bush will live where a peach grows and grapes do not require shelter, of course, they are right. The culture can withstand frosts down to -25-30 ° C. Only during and immediately after flowering, even a short-term drop in temperature to -3 ° C will cause the ovaries to fall off in the common almond and its varieties that produce edible fruits.
The problem of return frosts has not yet been resolved. Therefore, even for the southern regions, it is recommended to choose varieties that bloom as late as possible, with a long dormant period.
How to plant almonds
Actually, there is nothing difficult in planting an almond bush and caring for it. It is much more difficult to find a place on the site and properly prepare the soil.
Planting dates for almonds
Almonds can be planted in spring or fall. But since the culture grows very quickly and begins to bear fruit early, when placed on the site at the beginning of the season, the shrub can immediately bloom. This will weaken the plant and prevent it from rooting properly. Excavation in spring should only be planned as a last resort.
Planting almonds in autumn, in November, is preferable. In warm climates, the shrub will have enough time to take root, and in the spring it will immediately grow.
Selection and preparation of the landing site
The area for growing almonds should be well lit and protected from the cold wind. It is desirable that the shrub planting site has a southern orientation. Other trees or buildings should not shade the culture for more than 1.5-2 hours, but this is highly undesirable.
The soil should be well-drained, if it contains stones of any size, they do not need to be removed. Loams, sandy loam or light clays are suitable, heavy and acidic soils, blocking or simply wet, are not suitable for almonds. Even in neutral soil, lime or dolomite flour should be added when planting. Groundwater should not lie closer than 1.5 m to the surface.
Planting holes for planting shrubs are prepared at least 2 weeks in advance. Their diameter should not be less than 50 cm, depth - 60 cm. At least 20 cm of drainage from rubble, gravel or broken brick is laid on the bottom. Then they cover it with sand so as not only to fill the voids, but also to make a 5-7 cm layer.
The planting mixture should not be too nutritious. Sand, clay and brick chips must be added to black soil, poor soils are improved with humus. The acidic soil is brought back to normal by adding up to 0.5 kg of lime or dolomite flour to the planting pit.
The recess is 2/3 filled with planting mixture and filled with water.
When planting and caring for almonds in the open field, it will not grow as large as in nature, but it should still be located freely. The distance between plants must be determined based on the height of an adult shrub, it is different for each variety. On average, almonds are planted 4-5 m apart. Rows (if any) should be 7 m apart. An adult shrub should not touch other crops with branches, otherwise the lighting will be insufficient.
It is recommended to plan the free space between plants at least one meter. If this condition is ignored, the almond shrub will bloom profusely, since the buds open when most crops are bare or have just begun to bloom. But the harvest will be meager - the fruits simply do not have enough light for normal development. In addition, the almond shrub grows faster in shading.
Shrubs of sweet and bitter almonds grow well in the Crimea and the Caucasus. In other regions, when choosing seedlings, it is imperative to be interested in whether the variety is adapted to local conditions. It is best to go to the nursery to buy shrubs - at the exhibition or via the Internet you can buy almonds grown in the southern regions on rocky soils. It will be long and difficult to take root in a different environment.
It is necessary to plant almonds at one or two years of age - the culture grows rapidly and begins to bear fruit early. In the first year after planting, it is not recommended to let the shrub bloom, and plucking the buds that abundantly cover the branches in early spring is not difficult, but for a long time.
When buying a seedling, first of all, you need to pay attention to the root system. It should be intact, elastic, contain at least one strong process and few fibrous branches. In the grafted shrubs, you need to inquire about the stock and carefully examine the place where the crops are spliced - there should not be cracks, peeling of the bark, spots of unknown origin.
Preparing a seedling for planting consists in watering a container plant or soaking an open root for at least 6 hours. The shrub can be kept in water for several days if you add a growth stimulant to the liquid or a half dose of any potassium fertilizer.
Almond bush planting rules
There is nothing complicated in the landing itself:
- Part of the earth is taken out of the planting pit.
Comment! There is no need to make a mound in the center - the young seedling has almost no fibrous roots, but several strong shoots have already formed. So, excuse me, there is nothing to spread around the hill!
- A strong peg is driven into the bottom for a sapling garter.
- The shrub is immediately tied to the support so that the root collar rises 5-7 cm above the ground surface.
- Only after that, the root is covered with soil, constantly compacting it.
- Check the position of the root collar.
- Almonds are watered, spending at least a bucket of water for each shrub.
- The trunk circle is mulched with dry soil or low-lying (black) peat, but not humus. The thickness of the shelter should be 5-8 cm.
How to grow almonds
Choosing the right place and planting almonds will make the shrub take a little maintenance. Fruiting varieties need more care than decorative ones.
How to water and feed
Immediately after planting, especially if it was done in the spring, almonds need regular watering. As soon as the shrub grows, the moisture is limited. Almonds planted in the fall may not require additional watering. You need to be guided by the weather and remember that an excess of water is much more dangerous for a culture than a lack of it.
This does not mean that the varietal almond shrub can grow without watering at all - species plants in this regard are more resistant to drought. With a lack of moisture, the flowering time will be reduced, and since the culture is pollinated exclusively by insects, and is self-fertile, there may not be enough time for fertilization. Sandy soils require more frequent watering than loams or chernozems.
Important! With an excess of water, the root collar can rot, the almond shrub becomes weak, more susceptible to disease and insect pests.
Almonds grown in backyard plots are fertilized three times per season:
- in early spring, before the flowering of the shrub - nitrogen, 20 g per 1 sq. m;
- at the beginning of May - with complex fertilizers according to the instructions (optional);
- August-September - phosphorus-potassium fertilizing, 20 g of superphosphate and potassium per 1 sq. m.
Fertilizer doses should be appropriate for the age of the shrub and the composition of the soil. If you overdo it, you can just ruin the plant. This is where the "golden rule" of fertilizing any crops comes into force: it is better to underfeed than overfeed.
On non-irrigated soils, where almond plantations are often planted, the main top dressing is applied in late autumn, when the soil under the bushes is sufficiently moistened. After leaf fall, manure, superphosphate and potassium salt are embedded shallowly into the ground. On black soil, you can limit yourself to rotted cow dung.
Important! On neutral soils, annual watering of shrubs with lime milk is desirable, on sour soils, it is mandatory.
How to prune almonds
To get a stable fruiting or beautiful ornamental shrub, it is impossible to do without pruning almonds. Immediately after planting, the seedling is shortened to 0.8-1.2 m, all branches located below 60 cm or grafting sites are removed, and 2-3 buds are left on the rest.
When the shrub is well rooted and gives new shoots, 3-4 of the strongest are left for the formation of skeletal branches. Up to 4-5 years old, the crown of a fruiting almond should be formed in the form of a bowl, with one trunk.
In the future, pruning consists in maintaining the shape of the crown, removing thickening and intersecting shoots, fatty branches directed vertically upwards. The entire growth is shortened to 60 cm.
The main pruning of almonds is carried out in the fall, after leaf fall. In the spring, the frozen ends of the branches, dried and broken shoots of the bush in winter are removed.
Old and severely frost-affected trees recover quickly after heavy pruning. If you ignore the procedure for at least one year, the yield and decorativeness will decrease.
It is imperative to work with a sharp, sterile instrument. The wound surface, with a diameter greater than 1 cm, is covered with garden varnish or special paint.
How to prepare for winter
Almonds endure short-term frosts, reaching -25-30 ° C. Under the influence of low temperatures, the tops of young shoots can freeze, but after pruning they quickly recover. Returning spring frosts are much more dangerous for shrubs. Even a short drop to -3 ° C will cause the buds or ovary to drop.
So it is more important to protect almonds from the cold in spring than in winter. Where the frosts are long and severe, it makes no sense to plant a crop at all.
Important! In winters with many snows, the root collar of the almond bush is often blown out.
To increase the resistance of the culture to low temperatures, at the end of summer or early autumn, the plant is fed with phosphorus and potassium, nitrogen is no longer given in June. A mandatory procedure is moisture charging at the end of the season.
In late July or early August, pinching is carried out - pinching the tips of young shoots. This simple procedure is very important for the almond bush, it significantly speeds up the maturation of the wood and reduces the likelihood of frosting on the branches.
Important! Pinching cannot protect flowers and ovaries from recurrent frosts.
The only way to protect almonds in the spring is with smoke bombs or an agrofibre or lutrastil shelter. The grafted standard forms are the most sensitive to low temperatures. Where the weather is unstable or significant frosts are possible, the tree is wrapped with covering material in the fall. In any case, it is better to insulate the vaccination site, but so that the bark does not come out.
Features of growing almonds in different regions
Before embarking on the cultivation of almonds in the Middle Lane, you should clearly understand that he may live there, but he will not bear fruit in the open field. Even in most regions, considered southern for Russia, the culture is cold, there is no need to wait for a harvest. But ornamental shrubs are more resistant to frost, although they also love warmth.
Growing almonds in the Krasnodar Territory
Sweet almonds can be grown in the Krasnodar Territory. The shrub does not give stable yields everywhere, but only where there are no sharp fluctuations in temperature. The dormant period for almonds is short, flower buds awaken in early spring, and sometimes at the end of February. The sun can heat up the shrub and cause the buds to open prematurely. A drop in temperature causes flowers or ovaries to fall off.
Sometimes almonds simply do not pollinate due to the fact that bees and other pollinating insects have not yet begun their work during the blooming of the buds. So even in the Krasnodar Territory it is not always possible to get a harvest every season.
In fairness, it should be noted that even in Iran and Morocco, almonds do not bear fruit every year. That is why the United States has become the world leader in the production of nuts. California's weather is the benchmark for predictability and an even, warm climate ideal for growing most thermophilic crops, including almonds.
Growing almonds in the Moscow region
Planting almonds in the Moscow region is possible, but only decorative. Fruiting - only indoors. Even if, at the cost of incredible efforts, to grow and preserve an edible shrub on the site, he will not give nuts.
Decorative almonds will have to be carefully looked after, to take measures to increase frost resistance. By the way, in most of Ukraine, bushes of fruit varieties are also useless to plant, and blooming ones regularly freeze.
Growing almonds at home has one peculiarity. All varieties are self-infertile, therefore, it is impossible to plant one shrub - it simply will not give a crop. On industrial plantations, it is recommended to grow at least four varieties, or alternate 4-5 rows of the main variety with 1 line of pollinators.
On personal plots, 2, or better - 3 forms of sweet almonds should be planted. The culture is capable of bearing fruit annually, but even in Central and Asia Minor, several productive seasons in a row are considered good luck. The amount of nuts is highly dependent on the vagaries of the weather. The best and most stable harvest is obtained far from the native places of almonds - in California.
The culture enters full fruiting after 8-9 years for grafted plants or 10-12 years after the emergence of seedlings grown from seeds. The first nuts appear in 2-3 or 4-5 years, respectively. Fruiting under favorable conditions lasts 50-65 years, then the yield drops sharply.
Different varieties of almonds can produce 6-12 kg of peeled kernels from an adult shrub. This is considered a good harvest. Each core weighs on average 2-3 g, some reach 5 g, but this is very rare.
Early varieties of almonds ripen in late June or early July, late ones - by September. A sign of removable maturity is cracking and darkening of the mesocarp. In ripe nuts, the shell is easily separated from the stone.
The shrub is shaken to break the nuts. Long sticks or poles are used if necessary. After collecting, the bones are quickly peeled from the shell, laid out in a thin layer in a warm ventilated room for drying. You can store almonds for a year.
Reproduction of almonds
Almonds can be propagated by seed, but since the crop is cross-pollinated, varietal traits are not inherited in this way. It is not known what will grow from the seed, one thing is certain: the nuts will be tasty, but it is impossible to predict the content of amygdalin in them. Without heat treatment, you should not eat the fruits of a shrub grown from a bone.
The easiest way to breed varietal (not grafted) almonds in small quantities is to separate the root growth and root the cuttings. The latter method does not present any difficulties, but it takes more time than in other cultures.
On an industrial scale, almond varieties are propagated by grafting.
Features of grafted almonds
Often varietal almonds are grafted onto a species plant. So not only can you quickly get a fruiting shrub that gives high quality fruits, but also somewhat increase frost resistance. If, of course, not the species Common Almond is used as a stock, but representatives of the subgenus that are resistant to low temperatures.
But this does not always make sense - in unsuitable conditions, almonds grow quickly, the old trunk dries up, it is replaced by new shoots that have grown from the root. From this, the tree loses its shape and becomes like a shrub.
Therefore, before growing almonds grafted onto representatives of its own subgenus, you should first find out how it will behave at the planting site. Perhaps in a few years on the site there will be not a varietal tree, but a shrub formed from a root growth, which has nothing to do with a scion (except perhaps a species). We'll have to carefully monitor the state of the stem and, at the first signs of drying out, re-graft young shoots. It is even better to use other crops as rootstock.
Important! It is most reliable, if the climate and conditions permit, to grow own-rooted varieties.
To increase the frost resistance of almonds, it is recommended to use bird cherry, blackthorn, plum, cherry plum as a stock. For growing on rocky soils, it is better to graft on bitter almonds. The paper-shell varieties are compatible with peach.
Diseases and pests
Almonds, like peaches, are often affected by diseases and pests. It is impossible to get a harvest without preventive measures.
Among the diseases of the almond bush should be highlighted:
- gray rot;
- monilial burn;
The main pests of almonds:
- leaf roll;
- plum moth;
- almond seed-eater;
- plum bark beetle-sapwood.
The main problems of ornamental almond shrubs are aphids and monilial burn.
For prevention, you should:
- plant almonds freely, so that the branches of an adult plant do not come into contact with other trees;
- thin out the crown annually;
- cut dry and diseased branches;
- in spring and autumn, carry out preventive treatment of the shrub;
- remove plant residues from the site;
- regularly loosen the soil to a depth of about 7 cm;
- choose varieties that are resistant to diseases for planting;
- fight anthills - they are the reason for the appearance of aphids, which, in turn, not only infects the culture itself, but also spreads diseases;
- regularly inspect shrubs, and if a problem is identified, treat with fungicides or insecticides;
- do not overmoisten the soil;
- comply with the rules of agricultural technology.
Planting and caring for an almond bush, a photo of which was given in the article, is not a particular problem in the south. In cool climates, the culture grows, but does not bear fruit, unfortunately, varieties resistant to return frost have not yet been bred. Ornamental almonds can be grown in the Middle lane.