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Winter heat threatens the almond trees

The warm winter weather in Spain is threatening almond trees and fruit trees. The blooming is generally three weeks earlier this year than normal.


Almond flowers

The unusually high temperatures that we’ve had so far during the fall and winter means that blooming has begun “premature”. This means that there is an obvious risk of frost during flowering.

Biologist José Egea explains that there has been a trend in recent years that the temperature has risen and the months that matters to the almond trees are temperatures from October onwards. The same goes for most fruit trees, including peaches and plums that require low temperatures in winter to put flowers.

This threshold temperature is not so low for most almond trees, with the result that they bloom earlier. This is what has happened in many parts of Spain this year, including in the regions of Murcia and Granada. Some variations begin to bloom in December, while others will not begin to flourish until the end of March or April. But José Egea believe that flowering will take place earlier for these later versions as well.

José Egea is completing his studies at the CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científica) in Murcia, and one of the center’s tasks is to develop new varieties of existing trees that bloom later. This will reduce the potential for fruit farmers to get their crops destroyed by frost.

About almond trees

Almonds are ready for harvesting 7-8 months after flowering. We usually have a tradition of picking an almond every year for the Christmas porridge. For people who are considering an almond Christmas porridge, it may be helpful to know that there are two types of almonds and sometimes on a single almond tree. Almonds most commonly grown are sweet almonds, but there are also bitter almonds used in small doses in a few pastries. Bitter almond is toxic and 8-10 bitter almonds can be a lethal dose for a child. Many growers graft branches of bitter almonds on the bottom part of the almond trees lest goats will graze on the tree. Almond Trees have brittle branches and goats climbing the trees can damage the branches. But they do not like bitter almonds and the trees will be left in peace.


A beautiful trail along flowering almond trees. Photo Johnny Erixon.

Right now, the almonds are blossoming in many parts of southern Spain. It is an aesthetic experience of large proportions for those who have the opportunity to take a trip to the countryside.