Independence Almond – Some Observations

Many farmers are preparing their tree orders for next year’s planting. In that regard, I have received a few questions on Independence, a self compatible variety.

What does it mean to be self compatible?
Traditionally, almonds require cross pollination in order to ensure profitable harvests. In other words, pollen from one variety needs to move to the flower of another variety in order for the flower to be fertilized and set a nut. This is why we have multiple varieties of differing pollen groups planted within almond orchards. The newly released variety ‘Independence,’ however, is a self pollinating variety, meaning that pollen from an Independence tree can pollinate and fertilize a flower from another Independence tree.

A single variety orchard has advantages over traditional 2-3 variety plantings. The obvious benefits come from the single bloom, hullsplit, and harvest timing. This provides savings in time as it may reduce the passes through the block, and even more so for growers relying on custom spraying, harvesting. These reasons where why Butte/Padre plantings were so popular.

How does the tree look?
At this point, although possibly premature, with observations of the oldest block that I know – 9th leaf – and a few younger plantings, it looks good. Yields have been up and down in the oldest block, but this has been due to frost events that have occurred in the late spring. In the younger blocks, the tree seems to bear well, and appears to have a good yielding potential based upon field observations.  The trees appear to be a little smaller than Nonpareil and a little more upright. Bloom time seems to overlap well with Nonpareil, if not a day or so earlier.

Any obvious disease problems?
The past few years I have walked the a few blocks looking for symptoms of various foliar diseases in the spring time, and have found few problems. At this point, I don’t feel that this variety is overly susceptible to any one disease, but only time and increased plantings will tell if this holds true.

Do I need bees?
The million dollar question. I have heard that the variety will produce commercially acceptable crops in the absence of bees. Roger Duncan is working on determining if bees are needed by performing caged studies. This trial was established this past year, so it may take a year or two to complete the study.

Although bees may not be needed, there still may be a benefit of having bees. Observations from heavily set orchards have been made in areas that were surrounded by almonds, and thus exposed to bees. In contrast, an orchard I visited with no neighboring almonds/bees did not have the crop load expected for the age of the trees. Even though it may set a commercially acceptable crop, the presence of bees may increase nut set, thereby increasing yield. I have been recommending growers to consider at least one hive per acre to aid in pollination as I believe there is a yield benefit — as well as appeasing neighboring almond growers. Again, only time will tell if these observations are more than anecdotal evidence.

What is the marketing classification?
This is very processor dependent. Do not assume that the variety will sell as a ‘Nonpareil’ just because it is similar in color and shape. Call your processor to determine how they plan to classify the almond. Most likely it will be classified as a ‘California,’ with some potential to develop into its own classification in the future.

Overall, this is a new variety and it may have many unknown attributes. Evaluate the risks carefully before planting large orchards. There are many  characteristics that we  will become aware of once more plantings come into bearing age, and we always find problems with varieties once they are more widely planted (I.e. lower limb die back on Padre, bud failure on Winters, etc). I do see the variety potentially fulfilling the role of the old Butte/Padre plantings, and I am hopeful that it will develop into a successful variety. 

If you have any thoughts on this variety, please feel free to comment below!

Just as a note – I did not receive any type of monetary gifts from Dave Wilson Nursery or Zaiger Genetics to write this entry.

Have a great Independence Day!

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18 thoughts on “Independence Almond – Some Observations

  1. Great Post! The Independence tree looks promising. You wrote “(independence)appears to have a good yielding potential based upon field observations.” What was the low, high, and average ranges on the observations? Did any observations show that 100% Independence does as well as 50% Independence 50% Nonpareil?

  2. Thanks for the feedback.In regards to your question, I dont know. Being a new variety, I have seen very little data from the fields, hence only being able to make observations on set and crop load. I haven’t seen any blocks inter-planted with Nonpareil.

  3. I am would like to rejuvenate my almond orchard. Currently it is 1/2 Non-pareil, 1/4 peerless, and 1/8 each Butte and Price. The soil is deep loam in Chico. I would like to replace the Price variety with either Livingston, Sonora, or Independence. What rootstocks would you recommend?

    As far as replanting the other varieties, especially the Non-pareil, what would be best rootstock for smaller and less wind blow over? Currently the Marianna 26-24 has a high rate of graft incompatibility.

    Thank you,

    1. Steve,
      There are two problems that cause blow-over. True wind – which will actually uproot trees and heart rot fungi which is mediated by crown gall. Both have been written about on the blog. Make sure you know which one is causing the problem prior to replanting.

      If a smaller tree is what you are targeting, I would consider the following rootstocks:
      Krymsk-86 – smaller than Nemaguard (90% of size), but does not carry root-knot nematode resistance. Unsure of its salt and oak root fungus tolerance;
      Lovell – smaller than Nemaguard (85% of size), does not carry root-knot nematode resistance, not salt tolerant or resistant to oak root fungus;
      Atlas- About the same size as Nemaguard (95% of size), maybe a little smaller, carries nematode resistance, semi-salt tolerant, unknown oak root fungus.

      Research also suggests that planting trees tighter down the row also reduces tree size and blow-over.

      I would start off looking at K-86 and seeing if it fits into your orchard operation. It is a new rootstock and we dont know everything, but plantings across the Sacramento valley look good. The root system on this rootstock is extensive, suggesting that it may be less prone to blow-over. Perhaps there are some farmers in your area that can provide their insights as well.

  4. Do you know if the Independence almond varienty can be used as a pollinator for non-pareil? I am thinking of replacing my carmel rows with the Independence variety.

    1. From my understanding it is compatible with Nonpareil. It also blooms a day or two before and harvests about a week earlier than Nonpareil. I would check with Dave Wilson Nursery as confirmation, but I dont think there should be an issue. Let me know if there is.

  5. My neighbor just planted 2,700 independent almonds and I planted a few.

    Question is how to prune before putting sleeves on.

    I also have 650 Paulownia Trees growing at different stages



    1. Mike,
      We typically cut off all lateral branches to about a 1/4″ stub after planting trees. This helps re-develop better angles as well as provide the ability to place the sleeve over the tree. Make sure that the axillary bud on the under-side of the limb is not damaged as it is the bud that we want to grow. This is why we leave a small stub. Trees are also headed between 36″-42″.


  6. Hi, we planted 18 acres of Independence we just harvested 4th leaf. Have you noticed the trees stressing more than other varieties when you withhold water just before harvest?

    1. Karen,
      When planted with Nonpareil, they do seem to stress a bit earlier. It is a good chance that this is due to the depth of the root system as the tree is a bit smaller in size. We see a similar think with Monterey. If planted as a solid block, the “earlier stress” most likely is due to a shortage of water as water management can be tricky at this time.

      Hope that helps,

  7. I am replanting an old orchard with all Independence. Although Nonpareil with Independence has high price advantages, but the variety’s come off at the same-time and doesn’t this make mixed nuts at the huller. Mixed nuts bring the lowest price.

    1. Brian,
      My experience has been that ‘Independence’ can be harvested a few days before ‘Nonpareil.’ I do agree, however, that it doesnt make much sense to inter-plant these two varieties due to the loss of operational efficiency that is gained with a single variety planting. If replacing a variety, such as ‘Carmel’ in the comment above, it could be be considered.


  8. i have planted independence 5 years ago. 20 acre with viking root(3rd leaf ended) and another 10 acre(4th leaf year ended) with Lovell. viking root trees are almost same size as lovell root tree(even though they are 1 year older). Viking root is awsome. This year I got 45,000 lbs.

    1. I am glad you have had success. Viking is a good rootstock – but it depends on the soil conditions and challenges. As you mention it can be a good producer. It is tolerant to Ring nematode and salinity, which is common in sandy soils. It is a little smaller than Nemaguard in high vigor conditions, but generally this isnt noticeable in sandier soils. It also is a bit more tedious to plant, with drying of the roots prior to planting causing poor take. It does not appear to have as much tolerance to high pH conditions.

      It is best to remember that rootstock selection should be chosen to meet the challenges of the soil. This will always be the best consideration in order to maximize production.


  9. Hi David,
    I knocked down all the mummy’s by hand(with 5 crews). It costed about $1500 for 30 acre. Better than machine shaking. We brought down all the mummy’s, I dont think its possible with machine shakers. Its hard, but you can clean it nicely. Next year I am thinking of cleaning manually immediately after shaking during harvest. For some reason, independence trees retain, close to a pound of almonds after shaking during harvest(My shakers also observed this in other independence orchards and suggested i should knock down the remaining almonds by hand). So you make a good amount of money if you knock down all almonds and also you clean the trees to avoid orange worm attack.

    I had a rust issue, close to 5 acre trees lost all leaves at the lower portion. I read your articles and bought a industrial blower(red max $550) to clean the crotch of the tree. You mentioned in your article that, thats where the pathogens remain alive. Sprayed dormant spray last week. Also i am going to spray before rain every 2 weeks after the leaves pop up, as you said in your other articles. Do we have to do anything else for rust?

  10. What is the price of one seed or independence and i want to know if they are avialable in south africa and other parts of the world

    1. Almond varieties do not remain true to type when grown from seed due to cross-pollination/genetic recombination. Please reach out to Zaiger Genetics regarding the licensing of the variety to South Africa. Be cautious planting a new variety in a new area – often many problems can occur.


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