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So, one of the things I love to do is take tours of factories, farms, and the like.  I always find it interesting to see how things are grown and processed and what machines are used in the process.  Today, I visited PistachioLand near Alamorgordo, New Mexico.

It is easily located on US 70 with the world’s largest 35-foot pistachio nut that stands out front.  The tour guide claimed it wasn’t for attracting people, but simply a son’s way of honoring his father who used to take him on road trips to see large attractions as a kid.

Of course, however, it attracts many including Larry the Cable Guy, Al Roker, and the Ozzy Osbourne family who have all filmed there.

The farm includes an ice cream shop, the McGinn’s Country store, the Arena Blanca Winery, 12,000 pistachio trees, 4 acres of grapes, and all the processing facilities.

Visitors may taste the wine and pistachios for free and take a $3, 20-minute motorized tour of the farm.  The tours are offered every hour on the hour from 10am-4pm.  I unfortunately read somewhere that they were only offered twice a day at 8:30 and 1:30, but luckily arrived early and caught the 1pm. 

Also, I didn’t know there are several types of coupons available online or on flyers, so before you end up at the shop, look one up and save yourself some money on your pistachio purchases!


PistachioLand Tour

Anyway, as I mentioned above, I love farm and factory tours.  On the PistachioLand farm tour, I learned a lot.  First pistachio trees love the dry, arid climate and originally come from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. 

The root system, however, is very fragile and they have a difficult time surviving in the claylike soil, so in the USA they have to be grafted on to mesquite oak hybrid before they are planted.  As a result, the base of the tree has distinct bark.

Types of Pistachio Trees

Additionally, there are three types of pistachio trees at PistachioLand; peters, joleys, and kermans.  As you may have guessed, the peters are the male trees while the joleys and the kermans are the female trees.

The female trees need the male trees in order to fruit.  They are pollinated by wind (not the birds and the bees), so the male trees need to be interspersed and planted based on prevailing winds.  About ten percent of the 12,000 trees are male.  They are easy to tell as they are taller and more robust than the female.


Of the females, PistachioLand has mostly the kerman variety as do most other farms.  While the joleys produce more, the nut is longer and skinnier than the plump kerman.  Also, interestingly the joleys are ready to be harvested about three weeks prior to the kermans.  The year they planted the two varieties, they didn’t know this, so the trees are interspersed instead of having their own section, which would have been easier for harvesting.

It takes 8 years for a pistachio tree to produce and 25 years to reach full maturity when they yield 45 pounds of fruit.  To harvest the fruit, which takes place in August and September, they attach a machine to the tree and shake it for 60 seconds.  They collect the nuts, remove the skins from the nut (which naturally cracks open on the tree), dehydrate, store, roast, and sell them all at facilities on their land. They even add different flavors which are pretty good.  I really enjoyed my visit to PistachioLand and have lots of edible souvenirs from the farm!  ETB


Fun Fact

PS…Fun Fact:  Years ago, when California was the sole producer for the USA, it couldn’t produce enough pistachios for the demand, so it had additional nuts shipped in from the Middle East.  The nuts were shipped with their skin on which stains the shell.  As a result, California died the shells red.  Who is old enough to remember getting red dye all over your hands when eating pistachio nuts?  I am!  ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

9 thoughts on “PistachioLand

  1. I’m a pistachio fan, nice to learn something about the plant and history. I’ve been eating pistachio ice cream since I visited Sicily some years ago, so many trees cover the landscape.

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