Pistachios are notoriously moreish. However, as impossible as it may seem, you might have to go easy on them this coming year.
A new report by the United States Department of Agriculture has found that global production of pistachios is expected to drop by a whopping 86,00 tonnes (94,800 tons) this year.
In the US alone, production is down nearly half from last year with a total produce of just 122,000 tonnes (134,500 tons), the smallest crop harvested in nearly a decade. Iran is having a similarly bad season with an estimated decrease of 20,000 tonnes (22,000 tons) of nuts. Turkey has doubled its production since last year, but the report notes that Turkey eats all of the pistachios they produce themselves, so it may not affect global production and trade.
Part of this decline is fairly normal. Pistachio trees are biennial plants, meaning they have biological cycles that last two years, so the harvest is lighter in alternate years. Having said that, the two big producers of pistachios, the US and Iran, have both been crushed by heavy droughts.
Oh nuts... United States Department of Agriculture
An estimated 98 percent of US pistachios are grown in California’s Central Valley, an area that is still recovering from its recent years of drought. Just last year, it was reported that the state’s piercing heat and abnormal droughts were causing thousands of Cali’s pistachios trees to produce hollow and empty seeds – what’s known in the industry as “shooting blanks”. Additionally, the US had a warmer than typical winter, which is further bad news for the trees.
Pistachios are actually Iran’s biggest export after crude oil. But as AFP reports, the family-run farms that grow pistachios are under increasing stress. Once again, this is all to do with water supplies, or lack of. The UN says that Iran has gone from a state of "water stress" to "water scarcity". A century of revolutions, political turmoil, economic sanctions, and rise in electric pumps has left its irrigation systems to fall from grace.
But hey, it isn’t all bad news. The reported also said that global walnut production is up 155,000 tonnes (170,900 tons) and almond production is up 22,000 tonnes (24,250 tons).