Pis­tachio Grove on the Outs­kirts of the Capi­tal

11 March 2022

The af­fo­res­ted hills in Bik­rova, app­roaching the sout­hern outs­kirts of the capi­tal, are low: on­ly 200-300 met­res above sea level. The ear­liest and ma­tu­re fo­rest plan­ta­tions are concent­ra­ted on a vast area up to the Ko­pet­dag rid­ge. The hills be­gin to “swell” and “dive” down be­hind the last row of cot­ta­ges – the foot­hill start the­re. The bo­ta­nical ra­ri­ties li­ned up ne­ar the count­ry ro­ad – mul­ber­ry trees, po­pu­lar­ly cal­led “han tut”, its fruits are juicy and full of “cher­ry-rasp­ber­ry” juice, Zi­zip­hus, pecan trees and Elaeag­nus orien­ta­lis, and pis­tachio trees can be se­en be­hind them. If you climb hig­her, you can see that the­re are ma­ny of them – a lar­ge grove, about 50 ma­tu­re trees. The trees are in excel­lent con­di­tion and de­monst­ra­te their unp­re­ten­tious­ness to soils and lack of ir­ri­ga­tion in a se­mi-wild landscape. Cer­tain­ly, the seed­lings we­re loo­ked af­ter, wa­te­red and kept nou­ris­hed du­ring their ear­ly years.

When wal­king amongst the trees, the count­ry’s ol­dest fo­res­ter Ak­mu­rad Ata­mu­ra­dov, a specia­list in pis­tachio cul­tivation, explai­ned that the grove con­sists of fe­ma­le and ma­le trees, the fe­ma­le trees be­ar lar­ge fruits, lar­ge clus­ters re­sult from the cros­sing with lar­ge-frui­ted forms. The first trees we­re plan­ted expe­ri­men­tal­ly 15 years ago. To­day, the out­door bo­ta­nical col­lecti­on has grown wi­de, it inclu­des the species from Iran, Chi­na and Tur­key and the local species cul­tivated using the fo­reign met­hods – by graf­ting seed­ling to wild sprouts. It should be no­ted that the pis­tachio tree be­haves li­ke a re­al drought-re­sis­tant xerop­hy­te among the local fo­rest-for­ming species. The­re­fo­re, the re­sult of the involvement of this species in landscaping vivid­ly il­lust­ra­tes its advan­ta­ge over ot­hers: the expan­sion of pis­tachio plan­tings will be fol­lo­wed by the pro­tecti­on of soils from deg­ra­da­tion and the sup­port for bio­diver­si­ty con­servation ef­forts. In this re­gard, the vast foot­hills of the Ko­pet­dag Moun­tains are practical­ly vir­gin land to develop the bar­ren hills for the plan­ta­tions of nut crops, inclu­ding sweet al­monds. Mo­re than half a mil­lion hecta­res could po­ten­tial­ly be af­fo­res­ted, providing qua­li­ty as­sess­ment of the pa­rent pairs, pre­serving the wild ge­ne­tic po­ol and ta­king care for young trees. In Turk­me­nis­tan, scien­tists have iden­ti­fied a to­tal of ten varie­tal forms in man-ma­de and na­tu­ral pis­tachio plan­ta­tions that are pro­mi­sing for rep­ro­ducti­on. The do­mes­tic bu­si­ness sector al­so got in­te­res­ted in gro­wing this species, the first in­dust­rial plan­tings ap­pea­red a litt­le mo­re than five years ago. The­se plan­ta­tions will bring the first yield wit­hin the cur­rent decade.

Ele­na DOL­GOVA,
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