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Almond, Amygdalus communis / Rosaceae
Almond
Two types of almonds can be distinguished, those with soft shell, mainly produced in California, and those with hard shell, like the Spanish varieties Marcona and Desmayo or many of the produced in Portugal.

Different types of almonds can be distinguished according to their taste and uses. The "sweet almonds", consumed as dry fruit may have soft or hard shells; the " bitter almonds" have a strong bitter flavour due to a glucoside called amygdalin (in sweet almonds it disappears almost completely when they mature); they are used in the food and agriculture industry to obtain oil, for instance. The green almonds have not undergone the fruit set.

Classifications are based on the hardness of the shell; thus, in Spain there are almonds with soft shell like the " Mollar de Tarragona " and " Fitas" from Ibiza, which are very appreciated in the European markets thanks to their exquisite flavour, colour and presentation. The most important hard shell commercial varieties are Marcon , Planeta, Llargueta, Rumbeta, Doble Fina and Desmayo. In Spain, many local varieties are produced in each region, among which stand out Marcona and Desmayo largueta. Nevertheless, other foreign varieties with late flowering have spread, like the Italian "Tuono" and "Cristomorto’ or the French "Ferragnès" and "Ferraduel". There are some types without a specific denomination that come from seeds with the generic name " Comunes". Some new varieties obtained in Spanish improvement programs have also spread, highlighting Masbovera and Guara.

In France, the almonds with soft shell are known from the old times as " princesses" or " fines"; the semisoft ones are called " amandes des dames" and those with hard shell are the ‘beraudes", " molières" or " caillasses" . Some varieties cultivated in France are Ai, Ardechoise, Sultana, Beautiful of Aurons, Ferragnès, Ferraduel, Ferralise and Ferrastar, among others.

The almond tree cultivated in Portugal usually produces almonds with hard shell. The varieties have different earliness in respect to the flowering. Some varieties are Boa Casta (average earliness), Pretty (late), Pretty St. Bras (early), Casa Nova (very late), Duro Amarello (quite early), Duro de Entrada (quite early), Gama (quite early), Jose Dias (average-early), Marcelina Grada (quite early), Mourisca (very early), Parada (quite early) and Verdal (average-early).

In Italy, the varieties are classified according to their place of origin: those coming from Puglia and from Sicily, the main almond tree production locations in Italy. The varieties of Puglia are Tuono, Filippo Ceo, Genco, Cristomorto, Fragiulio, Rachele, etc. The Sicilian varieties are d"Avola Pizzuta, Fasciuneddu, Romana, Avola R. 40, Cavaliera and Bonifacio nº 1.

In California, the greater production is soft shell almonds. Some varieties, from the oldest to the most recent ones are Nonpareil, IXL, Ne plus ultra, Texas, Davey, Tardy Nonpareil, Thompson, Ballico, Merced, Ruby, Carmel, Butte, Price, etc. Some of them are the result of crosses between them, that is to say, they are hybrids.

Descriptions of some almond varieties

" Mollar de Tarragona’
Quite big, wide, of more or less dark brown colour, slightly rough. 40-43% yield on shelling and 5% of double almonds. Average time of flowering, produced in Spain.

" Marcona’
Quite a large almond, of round shape, slightly rough. 25-28% yield on shelling; no double almonds. Flowering at the beginning of March and late maturation at the beginning of October. It is original from the province of Alicante (Spain).

" Desmayo Largueta’
The tree is of hanging growing habit. There are several local types in the Spanish regions, the most well-known is Desmayo Rojo. Extended, pointed, smooth almond with a hard shell, commercialized under the name of " Larguetas". Very precocious flowering and very late maturation. It is cultivated in all the Ebro valley, from Zaragoza to Tarragona, and in the bordering provinces of Lérida and Teruel (Spain).

" Tuono’
Hard shell fruit. When ripe, they maintain the peduncles of the fruits on the tree. 30-40% yield on shelling; the proportion of double almonds varies between 15 and 30%. Very late flowering and early maturation. Variety of Puglia (Italy).

" Ferragnès"
Fruits of quite large size, slightly pointed and of brown skin, not very rough. Very late flowering and maturation at the end of September in the region of Nimes (France). It originated from " Cristomorto’ x "Ai’, in France.

" Ferraduel"
Hard, wide and flattened shell, with thin, dark brown skin. Very late flowering and maturation at the end of September in the region of Nimes (France). It originated from "Cristomorto x "Ai’, in France.

" Ferralise’
Small, thick, clear and very smooth almond. Hard shell, 30% yield on shelling. Very late flowering. Original from the cross " Ferragnès" x " Ferraduel".

" Bonita’
Medium size almond, thick, pale colour, stripped, very attractive. 23% yield on shelling. Late flowering. Portuguese variety.

" Casa Nova’
Great almond, flattened, quite rough. 20% yield on shelling. Later flowering than other Portuguese varieties.

" Parada’
Quite large, wide, dark brown almond, slightly rough but highly appreciated in Portugal for its shape. 19-22% yield on shelling. Quite early flowering.

" Verdal"
Quite large an almond, flattened and with a very good taste. 24% yield on shelling. Early flowering. Portuguese variety.

" Nonpareil"
Slightly elongate, thick almonds, with very pale and thin skin. The shell is also very thin. 60-65% yield on shelling. Very early maturation. It is the classic Californian variety.

" Ne plus ultra’
Known as " Neplus". The appearance of this fruit in the shell is attractive, elongate and clear, but the almond is long and flat, usually with folds and wrinkles. 55-60% yield on shelling. Early flowering and spread out over a long period of time. Californian variety.

" Texas"
Thick fruit. Late flowering and maturation in the middle of October, in Nimes (France). Its origin is California.
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