#ContactForm1 { display: none ! important; }

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Highlights of 2014

2014, you have been good to me! It has been a great year filled with new beginnings, adventures and of course new life. Looking back on the year only makes me look forward to what else is in store for me next year. If you follow me on social media, this week we looked back on the most popular blog posts of 2014. Here are my top three most viewed blogs of 2014.

 #3: Almond Huller & Sheller. I took you guys on a tour of our almond huller and sheller for a chance to peak into how almonds are prepped for processing. It was a first hand look at taking the hulls and shells off the almond and exposing the meat to be processed for consumption.

 #2: Almond Varieties. In this blog post I explained the many different varieties of almonds and the many different uses of this varieties. Many consumers don't stop to think about the many different kinds of almonds and what the farmer grows those for. Just like an apple, each kind of almond has a distinct flavor and complex characteristics. Explore with me the different uses and next time you bite into an Almond Joy or enjoy your favorite sliced almond you may be able to tell what variety of almond you are enjoying.

#1: How is the CA drought going to affect you? I enjoyed writing this blog and I am so happy that it picked up so much momentum. California is deep into a drought much like other states. But unlike other states, we grow a a quarter of all food produced in the world. What does this mean to you? Well, whether you live in California, the Mid West or Europe, you may have to go without certain foods or you may have to pay extra to enjoy these California crops.

Personally, my almond farmer and I also have a few highlights of our own we are proud of. We are getting more efficient with land optimization. We planted a new orchard and get to watch a new leaf as it is turned over on our farm.We were featured as a farming couple confronts drought as part of a California Farm Bureau publication. But most importantly, our highlight of the year was welcoming our Little almond farmer into the world! Next year will be filled with more adventures, more challenges and a lot more pictures of our little one. :)

We can't wait to see what is in store for 2015! See you all next year.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Monday, December 22, 2014

Our Christmas Gift Came Early!

So it's been over two weeks since my last post because we have been quite busy off the farm...

Our little almond farmer arrived on December 6th! Little Henry was born at 11:48pm after only about 5 hours of labor. I am so happy and blessed that it was a very short labor because I don't think I could have handled any longer. I do not do pain very well! He was 7lbs 5oz and 20 1/2 inches long. When my almond farmer husband was born he was 10 pounds, so needless to say I was very excited my little boy was 7 lbs!

We are so happy to have our little boy here to celebrate the Christmas season with! We couldn't have asked for a better Christmas gift!

From our family to yours, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and blessed New Year. May all your celebrations this season be filled with love and happiness!




Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sealing an Almond Tree

After almond harvest and when the trees have gone dormant, we put our doctor hats on to see if we have any sick trees that need mending. Winter is a great time to repair any trees and general maintenance around the farm.

When almonds are too green, the almonds aren't dried enough to shake off the tree with ease. The almonds will hold on to the tree branches because there hasn't been enough moisture released. Some trees may be younger than the majority of the orchard causing them to mature differently and not be as ready for harvest when the rest of the field is.

When either one of these happens the shaker operator may have to shake the tree longer than expected to get all the almonds off. This may cause the bark to loosen and fall off exposing the trunk of the tree. If the trunk of the tree has too much moisture the bark will loosen making it easier to fall off as well.

The bark falling off reduces the amount of water and nutrients flowing through the tree. The trunk is the heart of the tree and needs all its bark to carry these valuable resources to the rest of the tree. The bark falling off is similar to a burn on your arm from rubbing it too long. We put a tree seal on the open wound just as you would put cream or a band-aid on your hurt arm. The tree seal helps the almond tree to seal itself and helps reduce insects and diseases from damaging the tree and allows the bark to grow back.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Pumpkin Bars with Almond Crust

Are you all recovered from your turkey comas? If you are like our family, you are still recovering from all the food you ate on Thanksgiving. If you also like me, you may have a heap of leftovers and looking to reinvent them to make something new. Well I bought a 30 oz can of pumpkin not knowing that my recipe only called for 15 oz of pumpkin. So, if you still have some pumpkin in your fridge or maybe you didn't get your pumpkin fix and you want more! Here is a simple and easy pumpkin bar recipe and what else but almond crust. Note: I didn't add the dates the first time I made this, and it really does need that extra sweetness of the dates.

Almond Crust
Finished Bars


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Monday, November 24, 2014

Giving my Baby Crib new life

Let me start off by saying that I love antiques and any furniture with a story. Most of my house is furniture that my almond farmer or I have inherited from family members that have gone before us, or we have bought at estate sales or antique shops, or just thought they looked old. When I was thinking of baby furniture for our little almond farmer, I wanted to keep with the same trend and look for something that had the antique look. Being that my father keeps everything, I wasnt surprised to find out that my parents still had the crib and changing table that I used. I knew I wanted it, so I asked my Dad to pull it down from the old shop shelves and see what condition it was in.

So, my Dad sent me the pictures of what it looked like and it did bring me back to the childhood. Not because I could remember sleeping or getting changed, but because they screamed 80's to me. I was born in the 80's and the old oak color was a sure sign that these pieces needed some updating. After some begging to my parents, I convinced them to let me have them for my little almond farmer baby and to paint them! 

I had a vision of my baby nursery with white furniture, only problem was this oak set had a million spindles. My almond farmer husband took one look and said no way to sanding and painting. I mean just look at those spindles...I couldn't blame him. I was determined to have my old furniture set, so off I was to find a professional and make my dream come true.

The sanding took the professionals about a week, so I knew it would have taken my almond farmer even longer. I was happy to take one task off his list and hire it done. With the baby almond farmer due to arrive any day now, he has plenty on his plate. I could not be any happier with the finished results! I have my antique furniture for the baby nursery and I was able to give my baby crib new life. Now, we are just patiently waiting for the baby to come and enjoy it!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Blog Anniversary!

One year ago today, I started this blog. Wow, I can't believe it's been a year already since I started this journey! Time sure has flown by and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I have learned a lot over the last year about blogging, who follows me, what to write about, and even our very own farm. I continue to learn as well from you guys out there and I do have to admit that I have loved every moment!
Keep enjoying the beauty!

I have learned that my thoughts are most definitely not that only way of doing things. I need to always keep an open mind. It is important to give my perspective but to also think of how my words may come off to someone else. I have learned to always hear the other person out.

I have learned that things I think of as normal farming practices may be totally unknown to others. It has been eye opening for me to share the smallest happenings on our farm and to get comments from others on how I have educated them. It has taught me to not be afraid to share our story.

I have learned to not be afraid to try something new and fail. When I am researching new recipes or things to try for the blog, there have been some epic fails along the way. But hey, I'm learning at this too. I have learned to try something new and if it doesn't work to revamp and try again, or sometimes just to give up! But it has been fun to test myself as well and see what I'm capable of.

Over the past year I have shared with you the challenges, the struggles and the rewarding moments of our farm and life. You have been by our side as we received a zero allocation of water, when we planted new trees on the farm, during the beauty of bloom, when we harvested our crop and when we announced we were expecting our new little almond farmer.


Thanks from the Almond Girl and her almond farmer
Looking forward to the next year, I am of course most excited for the arrival of our little almond farmer next month, but there will be plenty of unknowns to share in.  We will also have new adventures on the farm to share and new struggles with farming in California. Wherever the next year takes me, you guys will be right along side sharing in the adventure with us. So thanks for reading, thanks for following us and thanks for supporting me on this journey. Without you great followers, there would be no Almond Girl!


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Banana Almond Smoothie

I am getting closer and closer to my due date with our little almond farmer! With my nearing due date though comes more and more cravings for anything sweet. Being that I feel like I have gained a hundred pounds though, I am searching for something sweet that isn't terrible for me. If you have read any of my recipe or food posts, you know by now that I like to experiment and can't follow a recipe if my life depended on it. So I tried this smoothie/ milkshake concoction and really liked it. Of course you can substitute almond milk for regular cow milk and almond butter for peanut butter. My almond farmer said he thought he was drinking an almond milkshake. It hit my sweet craving and now that I am telling you all about it, I think I am going to go make it right now.... Hope you like it!





Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Farming couple confronts drought challenges

My almond farmer and I were honored to be featured in a California Farm Bureau Federation series article entitled 'Young Farmers & Ranchers, Making it Work'. We had a great experience being interviewed and photographed for the piece. You never really think what you do is something special, until someone else tells you so and wants to spotlight in. I was asked by some of my blog readers to post the article so they could view it. It was printed in the October 22nd Ag Alert newspaper, to have access and the original article you can become a member of the California Farm Bureau Federation. 

Fourth-generation farmers Tim and Jenny Holtermann, who work at the family almond farm and custom harvesting business in Wasco, have a passion for agriculture they say it is the product of each being raised on a family farm.
It is this passion that fuels the young couple as they contend with challenges brought by the multi-year drought. While they were able to get through this year, they say they hope Mother Nature provides enough precipitation to satisfy the operation's water needs in seasons to come.
"The best thing I can do is plan for the worst and hope for the best. I'm hoping that it is a wet year and that we'll start getting some district water next year to help out our aquifer," Tim Holtermann said. "As far as planning for the worst: If it remains dry and we start losing our water wells from either the water table going too deep or just having mechanical issues, we'll have to let our older orchards dry up and remove them to keep the younger, newer orchards in production."
This year's almonds have been harvested on the family ranch. he said smaller-than-average-sized nuts on the trees likely resulted from the farm having to provide shorter water supplies to some orchards, to save almond trees during the drought.
"The biggest thing we had to do is deficit-irrigate all of our orchards to keep them alive. We anticipate that will also affect next year's crop as far as overall production," he said. "At this point, we'd rather have all of the orchards alive and a lighter crop than have to abandon an orchard."
Jenny Holtermann, who grew up on her family almond and walnut farm in Chico doing tasks from checking irrigation valves to training young trees, said she strives to be an advocate for agriculture through social media.
"I've become more involved in advocacy and communicating to folks that farmers really need to tell our stories more, so that the public knows what actually happens on a farm," said Jenny Holtermann, whose blog, titled "You Say All-mend, I Say Am-end," includes posts about how she and fellow farmers are affected by the drought. "I know people who have blogs and I see how influential they are and I said, 'I'm just going to do this.'"
Jenny Holtermann started her blog less than a year ago and she also posts on social media under the handle "@almondgirl," where she describes life on the farm. Her blog includes passages on topics such as the falling groundwater table, harvest and the process of almond hulling and shelling. She also posts recipes and informs readers of the nutritional benefits of almonds.
"Nowadays, everyone communicates through social media. If you want to hear the latest news and if you want to hear about what is going on, it is all on social media," Jenny Holtermann said. "Through social media, we need to educate people that we are in a drought and how important it is to conserve water. People really don't know how dependent they are on California agriculture, so by educating people, I hope it helps."
Aside from her social media work, Jenny is a director for the Kern County Farm Bureau, a member of the California Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers State Committee, and participates in California Women for Agriculture. She is involved in these organizations while also working as a sales specialist for Bayer CropScience Vegetable Seeds.
Where does she find time to be involved in these various organizations? Jenny said, "I am passionate about agriculture; it is my livelihood."
"I feel like I need to stay informed and involved in the agriculture community to be able to make sure that agriculture has a future," said Jenny Holtermann, who is expecting the couple's first child. "Especially with our little almond farmer due to arrive in a couple months, I want my children to be able to have the option to return home and farm. By telling our story, I hope to educate others and put a face to the food that is being grown."
Jenny and Tim met while working at the university farm while attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where they each earned agricultural business degrees. Shortly after graduating, the couple married and moved to Wasco. It was during this time that Jenny helped reinvigorate the Kern County Farm Bureau YF&R program.
"After marrying Tim, I came to Kern County not really knowing very many people, so I looked up the Young Farmers and Ranchers program and it was inactive, so I helped to revitalize it," Jenny Holtermann said. "It was a good time, since we had a lot of friends from Cal Poly that had come back to the area."
The Holtermanns described the YF&R program as helpful, especially during challenging times, because it provides a group of fellow young farmers who offer support.
"Through YF&R, we have a lot of friends who have the same type of problems. So the best we can do is support each other emotionally, because there is really not a whole lot we can do about the water situation," Tim Holtermann said. "They are able to say, 'We have the same problem; you are not alone.'"


Article written by Christine Souza, an assistant editor of Ag Alert. She may be contacted at csouza@cfbf.com
Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item

Friday, October 31, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Almonds

I enjoy a handful of almonds multiple times throughout my day. I keep a dish in my kitchen full of them, so when I walk through to the back yard or to take something out for dinner, I am always munching on almonds. It got me thinking, how do others eat almonds? I prefer my almonds raw, straight from the tree. But since I can't get those but once a year, I have to eat them other ways. I love the taste of just a raw almond, something about the purity and untouched almond that makes it so good. I know my parents prefer them roasted in the oven with a little garlic salt, which is also good but perishable. I have a great party nut recipe I like to enjoy around game days and party times.

There have been lots of recipes floating around for seasonal spiced things as well, which always gets me into the holiday spirit. So I decided to give one a try, and of course put my own spin on it. Since it is Halloween, I tried a pumpkin pie spice almond recipe and it does taste like I am eating a pumpkin pie! What I enjoyed about this recipe is that it is easy, has very simple and few ingredients and that it doesn't take long to prepare.

So give it a try and let me know how you prefer to eat your almonds?



All Ingredients ready to be mixed
Fresh from the oven!
Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

After harvest clean up, Leveling the rows

Harvest mounds left over in the rows
Now that almond harvest is over, it is time to get our fields back in shape. It is what we call orchard maintenance time of year or after harvest clean up. Oh the life of a farmer, they never stop!
 
During harvest, the picking up equipment will leave behind humps in the orchard rows. When the picking up machine picks up the almonds, part of the process is to leave the extra dirt in the field as a dirt mound. This process helps maintain the top soil in the field, and the more dirt we take out of the field and put in the trailers the more expensive trucking and hulling charges can be. The mounds in the middle of the rows will cause the tractors and equipment to travel through the field unevenly. This can be an extra problem for the flood irrigated and older orchards where the mounds could cause uneven water distribution. If the dirt mounds are left in the field until next harvest this could cause us to pick up even more dirt with the almonds next year.
Leveler implement making the rows flat

We try to take care of the potential problems caused by the mounds by getting rid of them. We have an implement we call a leveler that we pull behind a tractor to flatten the rows back to how they were before the harvest. The leveler will leave the rows smooth again. Leaving our orchard floors nice and ready for all that rain we are praying for this winter! 

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Walnut Harvest

Because farmers never rest and my almond farmer doesn't take a break after almond harvest, we went up to Chico to help my dad with walnut harvest. And the most important thing, my little almond farmer growing in my tummy needed some baby gear from my family baby shower!
Left is the walnut in the hull, Right is the walnut in the shell
Walnut wind-rows
My dad started walnut harvest a little over a week ago. Walnut harvest is very similar to almond harvest. Walnuts are grown on the tree in a green round hull surrounded by a shell and the walnut meet is the seed, very similar to the almond. When the hull is cracked open and starts to separate from the shell, the walnut is ready to be harvested. Walnuts are shaken off the tree with the same shakers we use in almonds. The walnuts are sweeped and picked up just like almonds. But instead of waiting a week or so to pick up the dried almonds, walnut must be picked up from their wind-rows and arrive at the huller within twenty four hours! Walnut meat and shells will darken in color the longer they sit on the orchard floor, reducing the price and quality of the walnut.

Shaking and picking up walnuts




Loading the walnuts to go off to the huller

Once at the huller, the green hull is removed and the meat in the shell is dried. Then, the walnut will go to the processor to be shelled or sold in-shell making them ready for you to enjoy!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Monday, September 29, 2014

Almond by-products


When people think of almond uses they tend to just think of using the almond meat. Almonds have multiple by-products actually. When almonds are processed at the huller the almond meat is separated from the hull and shell. The hulls, shells and hash are also sold and used.

Almond Hulls
Almond hulls are the green out most layer of the almond while on the tree. The hull is what splits and starts the countdown to harvest. Once the almond has dried in the field, the hull also dries and begins to separate from the almond. At the huller, they remove the hulls and stock pile them until sold. Almond hulls are sold for animal feed, most commonly dairy feed. The hulls actually add nutrition to the animals diet and aid in healthy milk production. Growing up on my family's farm, we used the hulls to feed our breeding sheep. It was cheaper than grain, helped to add nutrition to the animal diet and while filled them up faster.
Almond Shells
Almond hash

Almond shells are the hard layer between the hull and the almond meat. The shell is what protects the almond from insects while on the tree. After the shell is removed from the meat at the huller, it is also used. Almond shells can be ground up and used as bedding for garden planters and landscape material similar to wood chips. Almond shells are most commonly sold to co-generation plants to be used as a fuel source.

Almond hash is the material discarded during the shelling process when there may be nicks or flaws on the meat. These bits and pieces of almonds are separated and also used for animal feed. The hash is sold for higher end animal feed than the hulls and can be added to grain feed.

Next time you look at an almond orchard, think about all the uses for the fruit!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Almond Huller & Sheller

 Our almond huller is running in full swing, so I thought I would go and check it out! We belong to a cooperative huller, meaning the farmers who use its services own an interest in the huller.  A select few farmers who are members of the cooperative are also elected on the board of directors. Most of the hullers in our southern Central Valley region of California are cooperatives. We also have a few large corporations and small growers in our region that operate private hullers as well.

The huller has received over half of all almonds that it will this year, but some have to wait in stock piles to be run at a later date. When the farmer is done harvesting and picking up the almonds from the field, they haul them to the huller in semi truck trailers. When the trucks arrive, the almonds are weighed and either sent to be processed or stock piled until the huller can run them. They fumigate and tarp the stock piles to keep the almonds safe from any insects or rain that may hurt the almonds  while they are waiting to be hulled and shelled.
Stock piles waiting to be hulled and shelled
Semi from the field dumping almonds to be hulled


When it's time to run the almonds through the huller, the almonds are dumped into a giant pit to remove any excess sticks and foreign material. Once the almonds are separated, they are run through a series of shaking trays and rollers that remove the outer layer called the hull.
At our huller, the almonds can either go to further processing to remove the shell or can be left in-shell. In-shell is a newer marketing trend in which some of the foreign countries that buy the almonds will then use their own labor to remove the shell, providing more jobs in their own country.  The second option is removing the shell by cracking it and separating out the almond meat. This may lead to mechanical defects on the softer almond varieties. These almonds with defects are separated and sold as hash.

 
Almonds to be cleaned from foreign material

Sticks separated from almonds

Shaking belt
Almonds being sorted for defects
Trays carrying the almonds to be shelled
Finished almonds!
 Once the final almonds are separated and the hull and shell is removed, they are poured into wooden bins to be transported to further processing. At the processor, they will be pasteurized for human consumption as required by USDA and further packaged to be sold in the many different forms we find them in the grocery store.

 Until Next Time,
Almond Girl 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Falling Ground Water Table

We lost suction on one of our agriculture wells. The ground water table has dropped below where our pump was set. So, when we turned on our pump to irrigate our orchard, it was pumping air instead of water. We had to have the well maintenance company pull the well out of the ground and inspect the pump to determine the cause of lose of suction. It was determined our pump was too short for where the water table had fallen. Now, we have to extend the pump at least 40 feet further down, so we can pump from the water table. We hope that this will work and we will be able to pump water again.
 

Because of the drought, we have neighbors all around us drilling new wells. Farms are also pumping more from existing wells because we can't draw from federal or state water. Both these factors cause a greater dependency on ground water, causing our water table to fall deeper.  
Pray for Rain!!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Almond varieties

Did you know there are over 30 different varieties of almonds grown commercially?! All have their own unique purpose, size, and shape. Most almond farmers, have multiple varieties in the same orchard, the most popular being nonpareil. Nonpareil is the prettiest almond, most widely produced and comes with the biggest return back to the grower. But we can't all farm nonpareils, they need to be pollinated somehow. Almonds typically need at least two varieties in an orchard because the almond flower cannot pollinate itself like other fruit trees can. We learned about that with the almond bloom and bee blog!! So we have pollinator varieties that complement other varieties and offer their own unique purpose. I am going to outline a few of the more widely grown varieties for you, but feel free to check out The Almond Board of California's full guide.


Nonpareil has the most uses and purposes of any other nut. It can be used in raw form, blanched, processed or anything you wish. It is a soft shell variety, meaning the shell will be easy to remove. Nonpareil is the first variety to be harvested and kicks off the harvest season.
Carmel is a pollinator for Nonpareil. Carmel is generally used for manufacturing or processing  purposes like baking ingredients. It is also a soft shell, has a more narrow shape than a nonpareil and the skin appears more wrinkly. Carmel harvest will begin after nonpareil harvest.
Monterey is also a pollinator for nonpareil. It is a large and narrow almond with a smooth surface. And harvest will follow Carmel and Butte.
Sonora is a soft shell almond that is commonly recognized by its long, narrow shape and light skin color. It is the largest almond variety.
Butte and padre varieties are hard shell varieties, meaning their shell is harder to remove. This can cause more mechanical defects to the nut, making it ideal for manufacturing as well. They are shorter and smaller nuts, most commonly found in your nutty chocolate bar because of its size and slight bitter taste. Butte and padre are commonly harvested alongside or slightly later than Carmel.


Now you know an almond isn't just an almond. Next time you take a handful of almonds or bite into your favorite almond snack, try to guess what variety you are eating!


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Monday, August 18, 2014

Irrigating during harvest

In our orchards we have multiple varieties of almonds. These varieties mature and harvest at different times throughout the harvest season. We start with nonpareils, the most popular, most produced and most widely used variety. But a field of nonpareils most often has one or two other varieties that aren't ready to harvest for a couple weeks to a month later. When we flood irrigated, we weren't able to irrigate any of the orchard until the harvest was complete on the entire orchard.  If we chose to flood irrigate, the orchard rows would be too wet and the machinery would get stuck. The weeds would also start to grow in the middle of the rows, making it difficult for the machinery to pick up the almonds.

Now that we drip irrigate our fields, we are able to harvest and irrigate at the same time. The drip hose is delivering water directly to the base of the tree roots, with only a small portion of the water staying on the surface of the ground. We are able to shake or sweep one row of almonds while the row next to it is being irrigated. This helps the trees from being stressed during harvest. Stressed trees don't mature as timely as happy trees, prolonging harvest. Stressed trees can also lower our production for next year, too. So by drip irrigating and harvesting simultaneously, we are not only benefiting our trees this year but for years to come!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sweeping and picking up almonds

It's been about 2 weeks since we started almond shaking on the farm. We gave the almonds plenty of time to dry out and get most of the moisture out.
Now, it's time to sweep them. A sweeper machine runs through the tree rows and moves the nuts into a neat row down the middle of the orchard.  First, the sweeper blows nuts from one side of the tree line to the other. Then, the sweeper drives the opposite way through the field moving the nuts into a row. These rows make it possible for the pick up machine to come through and pick up the almond piles without running them over. 

Sweeper machine driving through the orchard
Orchard floor after sweeper has made almond rows

The pick up machine is pulled behind a tractor and has an almond cart behind it. When the tractor drives over the almond rows the pick up machine scoops up the almonds, leaving behind the dirt and other debris, and drops the nuts into the almond cart. When the almond cart is full of almonds, another machine called a shuttle comes behind it in the orchard.  The almond cart empties into the shuttle so the tractor can keep working through the field. The full shuttle will leave the field and find the elevator. At the end of the orchard, there is an elevator waiting for the shuttle to dump the almonds into. Then, the elevator lifts and pours the almonds into the semi truck trailer. Once these trailers are full, our almonds are on their way to the huller for processing!


The pick up machine that scoops the almonds from their rows
The almond cart that will empty into the shuttle
Shuttle pouring the almonds into the elevator.
















Until Next Time,
Almond Girl 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Almond Shaking

It's raining almonds!!!
It's raining almonds! Literally! We started shaking our almond trees this week, officially starting almond harvest. We wait all year for this time to come and it's here. It will be a busy next couple of months that will set the future for our orchards. Based off orchard production we will decide which orchards may be approaching their end of life, which orchards will finally produce a crop and which orchards we need to use better farming practices on next year.

Almond harvest is early this year due to the drought and a combination of warmer weather we had during winter and spring months and the hot temperatures we have had this summer. We have had three hot spells this summer with 10 plus days of over 100 degree temperatures. When we do cool down, it is usually only to a low of 95 for our day temperatures. Historically, almond harvest starts in our area the beginning of August, so we are roughly 7-10 days early on our farm. Some almond farmers near the Interstate 5 grapevine area and southern end of Kern County started a week earlier than us.

Almonds are harvested by using a machine called a shaker. The shaker has two arms with rubber pads that clamp on the tree trunk and shake for a couple seconds. This allows the almonds to shake off the tree. Only the almonds with open hulls will fall. If you shake too early, when the almonds are too green, they will stick to the tree. Once the almonds are on the orchard floor we give them a week or so to dry out. We want the almonds to have no more than 5% moisture and the hull to have no more than 11% moisture. This will allow the hull to come off easier when it goes to the huller plant for processing. Now we wait until the almonds dry out to sweep them.


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl