Can growing almond trees be a new way forward for Swiss arboriculture, particularly for high-stem fruit tree cultivation? What is the potential here in terms of production and marketing? Can humans and nature both benefit from this venture? Initial answers to these questions are being provided by Agroscope researchers in partnership with representatives from practice and administration, supported by the Fondation Sur-la-Croix.
The cultivation of high-stem fruit trees – defining features of the landscape – offers plenty of ecological benefits, but is subject to economic pressure. In search of options for the future, Agroscope specialists studied the potential for almond-tree cultivation in Switzerland, gathering and evaluating relevant data and experiences via a survey of Swiss and foreign specialists from the research, farming and market sectors, as well as from an in-depth research of the literature.
Conclusion reached: today, there are already several innovative farms in Switzerland growing almond trees with (modest) yields. These farms stress that the rising temperatures and increased drought associated with expected climate change lie at the root of the steadily growing potential for almond-tree cultivation. The market is also showing an interest, with certain buyers finding it easy to imagine the ‘Swiss almond’ as a product.
Nevertheless, the research also showed that many questions remain unanswered. Numerous topics need to be addressed in greater depth: ideal location, appropriate varieties, optimal crop management, a suitable management and processing strategy right up to market entry. Thanks to this project, initial measures are already in place for the increase and transfer of knowledge, with an information event serving as a forum of exchange between practitioners, research, trade and administration. In addition, the Agroscope Stone Fruit Centre in Breitenhof will be launching a variety trial with twenty varieties of almonds.