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How Do I Grow a Cashew Tree?

By Ray Hawk
Updated May 16, 2024
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The most important element to keep in mind when growing a cashew tree is that they originated in the tropical region of Brazil, and, therefore, require warm year-round temperatures to thrive, as they are very frost sensitive. The daytime temperature where these trees are cultivated should not drop below 50° Fahrenheit (10° Celsius) and should average around 80° Fahrenheit (27° Celsius). Cashews can tolerate hot temperatures well, whether wet or dry, and a temperature near or above 105° Fahrenheit (41° Celsius) will not harm them.

Planting a young cashew tree or sprouting the tree from seeds is the least expensive way to get started, but it has its drawbacks. Fresh cashew seeds sprout easily and can germinate within as little as four to five days in well-watered soil. Cashew seeds from any select tree will not grow true to type, however, and will vary from their parent tree to such a level that they may produce little fruit, or the fruit may be nearly inedible. Each fruit on the tree produces a single nut or seed, and can be stored for up to two years in its shell with a strong likelihood that it will still germinate when planted.

A cashew tree can take anywhere from three to five years before it starts to fruit. For this reason, and to develop unique characteristics in cashew nut production, the tree is often grown from a grafting which can fruit in as little as 18 months. When planting a cashew tree outdoors if it was started in a pot, it is necessary to give it a minimum distance of about 33 feet (10 meters) from any other cashew or large plant. They grow to a height of about 40 feet (12 meters) when fully mature.

Caring for a cashew tree once a seedling is established is fairly simple, as they are drought-resistant and can tolerate marginally fertile soils well in which other fruit trees and nut trees would not survive. They prefer well-drained, sandy soil, and, during fruiting and dry periods, should be watered and fertilized with a fertilizer composed mostly of nitrogen, phosphorus, and trace amounts of zinc. Poorly drained soils will inhibit tree growth, and rain during the period when they are flowering can cause the flowers to drop off before pollination due to mildew.

The region for optimal growing conditions for the cashew tree is up to 25° north or south of the Equator. This puts them within range of most of South America, Africa, and Australia. Much of the Far East and Middle East would also have suitable climates, as does all of Central America and Mexico. The trees would also suit the far southern Texas region and all of Florida and Hawaii in the US. Anywhere farther north such as the bulk of Europe, the US, and China, would require protected growing conditions in order for a cashew to thrive.

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Discussion Comments
By Sporkasia — On Apr 06, 2014

Cashew trees are relatively easy to grow, but if you think having your own tree is an easy and convenient way to get the great tasting nuts produced by the tree then you should do a little more research. Harvesting the nuts can actually be a bit of a chore.

The shells of the cashew nut contain a caustic liquid that can be very damaging and painful when it comes in contact with human skin. There are ways to get around the protective fluid, but harvesting the nut is not as easy as cracking a pecan shell and claiming the nut.

By Feryll — On Apr 05, 2014

I have a friend who lives in a climate where the weather is warm all year long, with slight variations from summer to winter. He never planted a single cashew tree, yet he has a yard full of them.

Unknown to me, fruit bats really enjoy the fruit produced by the trees and they routinely eat the fruit and then spread the seeds via their digestive systems, or they simply carry the fruit and end up dropping parts of the fruit, including the seeds, in other locations.

There are several people in my friend's neighborhood who planted the trees, and everyone else's trees are gifts from the bats. According to my friend, the trees require little to no care and the ones in his yard are thriving.

By Drentel — On Apr 05, 2014

Most people think of the nut when you mention cashews, but in addition to the nut, the fruit produced by the plant is edible and nutritious and it is similar to other fruits we are accustomed to eating.

The fruit of the cashew tree is sometimes called the cashew apple. It is red in color and contains a good amount of Vitamin C. The cashew apple is much more acidic than the apples we are used to eating. In fact, the cashew apple contains considerably more acid than a citrus fruit like the orange. Because of the acid level, cashew apples work better when blended with other fruit as part of a fruit juice drink or when mixed in smoothies.

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