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Turkeys pistachio production in MY 2022/23 is forecast to increase year-over-year to 210,000 MT

05.10.2022 10:22 "Agro Perspectiva" (Kyiv) Following are selected highlights from a report issued by a U. S. Department of Agriculture attache in The Ankara, Turkeys pistachio production in MY 2022/23 is forecast to increase year-over-year to 210,000 metric tons (MT). Production volumes will grow because MY 2022/23 is considered an «on-year» in the production cycle for pistachios. Production will also be buoyed by an increase in the number of bearing trees. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), there are an estimated 55 million bearing pistachio trees at the beginning of the current marketing year, up nearly 2 percent from last year. There are also about 23 million non-bearing trees, which is about 4 percent higher than a year ago.

MY 2022/23 pistachio production, which is mostly rain-fed, will also benefit from improved rainfall conditions during this past winter and spring. However, additional production and yield gains for this period will be moderated by the lingering effects of last years drought, which weakened trees and limited nest formation on trees this past spring. In addition, unexpected frost and hail damage in southeast Turkey this past winter is expected to pull yields down slightly in some growing areas.

Pistachio growers continue to replace their older trees, some of which are older than 50 years old, with younger trees in hopes of improving yields and increasing profit margins. With improved farmer training over the last decade, growers now appreciate and understand the importance of planting male trees in their orchards. At the same time, market sources report that in recent years some farmers, who were looking for higher profit margins, stopped planting lentils, barley, and even wheat to start growing pistachio trees. The new trees and orchards being planted will help lift Turkeys overall yields and production levels in the coming years.

Pistachio yields and production levels can vary dramatically between on- and off-years. The average pistachio yield is around 4 kilograms (kg) per tree in on-years and around 2 kg per tree during off-years.

Yields in MY 2021/22, an off-year, were below average at 1.6 kg/tree because of the drought. Pistachio production is fairly widespread throughout Turkey with 56 of 81 provinces growing pistachios, according to the Gaziantep Commodity Exchange (GCE). However, production is largely concentrated in just two southeastern provinces, Gaziantep and Sanliurfa, which account for 80 percent of total production. The southeastern provinces of Adiyaman, Siirt, Kilis, Kahramanmaras, Mardin, and Diyarbakir account for another 15 percent of total production. The remaining five percent is thinly spread across the Aegean, Mediterranean, and Marmara regions, where production has slowly increased over the last decade.

There are two main types of pistachios grown in Turkey, the Gaziantep (Antep) variety and the Siirt variety. Both of these varieties are unique to Turkey and differ in size and shape compared to the pistachios grown in Iran and the USA. The Antep variety accounts for 85 percent of pistachios grown in Turkey. The Siirt variety makes up the remaining 15 percent of production; the Siirt variety is considered a higher-yielding variety than the Gaziantep variety.

The quality standards for Turkish pistachios are directly related to the size of the nut. 90 nuts or fewer per 100 grams is considered first quality; 90–100 nuts are second quality; 100–120 nuts are third quality; and more than 120 nuts are fourth quality. Turkeys production of high-quality pistachios is predicted to increase in the future with the increasing number of new trees.

In recent years, to mitigate the natural «off year/on year» production cycle, pistachio growers have started using good agricultural practices, especially in parts of southeastern Turkey. With the support from local universities and other institutions, farmers are gradually realizing that higher yields can be

achieved with «good» soil conditions, better tree care, and irrigation. While the number of irrigated orchards has grown in the last few years due to abnormal drought conditions, only a fraction of total production is irrigated.

Since 2011, the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, Forestation, and Protection of Natural Habitats (TEMA), with contributions from private companies, has undertaken a project to increase the pistachio yields in Gaziantep and Sanliurfa provinces. The project, which is called «May you have abundant pistachios,» trains farmers how to properly care for their trees. The training focuses on improving pruning and trimming techniques, as well as better fertilizer and pesticide application practices. Farmers who have been trained under this program and applied these best practices have seen their yields triple. Meantime, Universities in the major pistachio growing regions in Turkey have developed better production methods and plant protection measures to help farmers improve yields.

Agro Perspectiva

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