Pistachio varieties

Selecting pistachio varieties is a strategic decision that directly influences the quality and quantity of production, as well as the profitability of the agricultural project.

Each variety has different agronomic characteristics, with advantages and disadvantages that must be analysed together with the climatic conditions of the area, the technical aspects of the plantation management and the market to which the production will be destined.

This post describes the main pistachio varieties grown in Spain. In addition, some rootstocks that allow to improve its characteristics are detailed.

What to consider when choosing pistachio varieties? 

Cómo elegir las variedades del pistacho
How to choose pistachio varieties.

When choosing the pistachio varieties to plant, it is necessary to take into account numerous technical and organisational variables. Firstly, climate and soil studies must be carried out and the availability and quality of water and the water supply from the subsoil must be known.

Next, a number of aspects must be considered that will also have an impact on the efficiency of the crop. These are mainly the following:

  • Female and male varieties. The pistachio tree is a dioecious species. This means that there are varieties that produce only female flowers and others that produce only male flowers. Therefore, it is essential to select the male variety to pollinate (through the wind) the female variety.
    • For example, Kerman is a fairly widespread female variety, which is often pollinated with Peter (male).
  • Cycle of each pistachio variety. According to the time it takes for the female varieties to flower, they can be classified as short, medium or long cycle.
    • For example: Larnaka and Mateur are varieties that have a short overwintering period, so they are early to flower. Whereas Kerman and Kastel need more time to develop and flower. Varieties like Sirora and Lost Hill have a medium cycle.
  • Target market. Depending on the target market, the characteristics of the pistachio nut offered by each variety, such as size, percentage of open fruit and shape of the pistachio nut, must be taken into account. For example:
    • If the pistachio production will be destined for direct consumption, large and round fruit varieties such as Kerman or Lost Hill should be chosen.
    • If the pistachio production is intended for industry, varieties with smaller fruit size can be chosen. For example, Mateur and Larnaka.
  • Fruit size. Normally, larger fruits fetch a higher price. For example, fruits of the Kerman variety are large and in high demand, so they are easily sold.
  • Rootstock. This is the plant that serves as a base (root system + part of the stem) to graft the scion of the chosen pistachio variety. When planting pistachio trees, we always start by sowing the rootstock. This is important to improve certain characteristics of the variety, such as resistance to climate or pests.
    •  For example, one of the most used rootstocks is UCB#1.

The most relevant female pistachio varieties

Las variedades femeninas de pistacho más relevantes
The most relevant female varieties of pistachio.

The female varieties are responsible for bearing fruit, so they are usually the first plants to be chosen. Later, the male varieties are selected.

The main female pistachio trees include:


It is a variety of pistachio that originates from a selection of seeds from Iran. It is currently cultivated in the United States and Spain. It requires 1500 hours of cold and 3500 units of heat.

It achieves its first relevant harvest in the 5th year, showing a marked tendency to alternate between good and low production from one year to the next.

It is a medium production plant that offers high quality fruit: large, round, with a high whiteness skin, higher sugar content, more nutty consistency and less bitterness. This makes it a highly appreciated variety.

  • Flowering: late.
  • Ideal pollinator: Peter variety.
  • % open fruit: between 40 and 80%.
  • % of empty fruits: between 15 and 25%.


This plant was created in Australia. Nowadays it is one of the most cultivated in Spain. It is characterised by its high production and vigour. It requires at least 850 hours of cold and 950 units of heat.

It is one of the ideal female varieties for dry farming, due to its great resistance to dry climates. This resistance is greater than that of other pistachio trees. In addition, it has a fast development, mainly in the first years, which contributes to an early production.

The fruit of the Sirora variety is also quite attractive and tasty. It is medium-sized, round or elongated in shape and has a medium whiteness of the shell.

  • Flowering: medium.
  • Pollinator: The most recommended is the variety C – Special. Although the variety Peter is also used.
  • % open fruits: high
  • % of empty fruits: medium.


This pistachio variety can also be cultivated under rainfed conditions. One of its main characteristics is its high production level and its adaptability to geographical areas with few hours of cold, needing at least 600 hours.

The fruit of the Larnaka variety is medium-sized and elongated. It has an excellent flavour. While the colour of the skin is less white, compared to the fruit of the variety Sirora.

  • Flowering: early.
  • Pollinator: variety C-Special.
  • % open fruit: high
  • % empty fruits: low

Lost Hills

Lost Hills is a female pistachio variety bred at the University of California (like Golden Hills). Its most predominant characteristic is that it has an earlier harvest than the Kerman variety.

The nuts of this pistachio tree are large, so in the commercial environment they can stand out. However, they are also fruits that tend to be more susceptible to various pistachio diseases.

  • Flowering: medium.
  • Pollinator: Randy variety.
  • % open fruits: high.
  • % empty fruits: medium.

The most relevant male pistachio varieties

Las variedades masculinas de pistacho más relevantes
Harvesting the pistachio fruit.

While the female pistachio trees produce fruit, the male varieties produce pollen. For example:


It is a vigorous male variety with excellent pollen production, which is viable for 3 weeks. It is well adapted to arid-Mediterranean climates.

  • Pollinates the variety Kerman. It is also used as a back-up for pollination of Sirora, during the last months of flowering.


Compared to Peter, Randy has a longer flowering period. In addition, its pollen is viable for a longer time. It requires few chilling hours, but when in humid environments, this variety is more prone to disease.

  • Pollinates Lost Hills and Golden Hills. Also used for the first flowering period of Kerman.


It is a male pistachio variety with high chilling requirements. Late flowering.

  • It pollinates especially late flowering female pistachio trees, such as Kerman.

Some rootstocks used in pistachio growing

Rootstocks are necessary to achieve an efficient and productive pistachio plantation. Of course, their selection is made according to the soil, the climate and the variety of pistachio to be planted. For example:


It is a cross between varieties created at the University of California, between Pistascea atlantica (female) and Pistacea integerrima (male). It is highly resistant to cold and diseases. It also has a medium tolerance to salinity.

This rootstock stands out among the others for its vigour, precocity and high quality production. For this reason, among its benefits to plantations are the following:

  • Increases the number of fruits.
  • Helps to achieve high yields.
  • Accelerates entry into production.


It is a variety that grows spontaneously in the Iberian Peninsula. It is adapted to poor soils and has a high resistance to cold.

Terebinthus is similar to all the pistachio varieties. However, it has a low vigour and precocity, so it generates inhomogeneous plantations and delays the beginning of production.

Choose the most suitable pistachio variety

At Agróptimum we give you comprehensive advice to increase the production of your plantation and increase the profitability of your agricultural project.

We have a professional team specialised in pistachio plants and in the varieties grown in Spain. We work with the most productive pistachio varieties and the most suitable grafts according to the characteristics and needs of each plot.

We are official distributors of the largest pistachio nursery in Europe, Acemi Spain. This allows us to maintain stock to cover our customers’ requirements at all times.

If you want to implement innovative solutions and guarantee the expected results, contact us. At Agróptimum we accompany you and look after your interests in the pistachio business.