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Showing posts from March, 2014

Harvest is Here

Almond harvest is here! Almond trees are shaking all over the valley and it's officially harvest season. About a week ago we started shaking on our farm.





But before you even start shaking, mowing is the true first sign of harvest. We don't just mow to make the orchard a cleaner environment. Grass could cause harvest equipment to get clogged up and unnecessary debris get stuck with the almonds  Weeds also take vital nutrients and water away from the trees and root system.


Once mowing is done, the orchard is ready for shaking! I like to say we shake the L out of them. Makes sense if you remember where I grew up. In Northern California we say A-MEND, just like salmon. None of that ALL-MEND business. But regardless of what you want to call it, almond shaking is how we get the nuts on the ground.



After we started shaking, the next day we were ready to start sweeping. Sweeping is the process of getting the almonds in nice, clean windrows so they can be picked up. Unfortunately, th…

Spring and new life on the farm

Spring is here and the best sign of spring is new birth whether its baby chicks, bunny rabbits, blooming trees and in our case young almond trees. Over a month ago we had a big rain and wind storm that blew over 200 almond trees on our farm. So this spring, we replanted these trees. Every spring we go through all our fields and replant any openings where we lost trees throughout the winter and the previous growing season. If the orchard is over 20 years old we don't replant the openings because it takes 3-4 years for an almond tree to produce nuts and replanting does not make economic sense. An orchards life is generally 25-28 years before we remove it. So we have to think if we will get a good production out of the tree to replant or not. Most of our orchards are less than 20 years old, so we replanted all the openings except for one older orchard.


When we replant, we plant the tree into the prevailing wind and with a bamboo stake for support. This will ensure the tre…

Celebrate National Ag Week!

This week, March 23rd- 29th, is National Agriculture week. This week we celebrate the farmers and ranchers who work everyday to provide us with food and clothing we need every day. They work day in and day out caring for the crops and animals we eat three times a day. Have you stopped to thank a farmer today? Why does society set aside just one week to those who work so hard to ensure we have food on our tables? Next time you see a farmer, stop them and say thank you. It doesn't matter if it's National Agriculture Day or just an ordinary Wednesday, farmers like to hear from the ones enjoying their labor. Sometimes we get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget where the most common of things comes from or to just stop and take value in the resources we are given.

I ran across the below picture on social media this week and thought it says it perfectly. Farming may not be the most glorious or beautiful jobs out there, but they are the ones we utilize the most. The farmer…

Planting an almond orchard

So weprepped the field,installed the irrigation system, now we are ready to plant our next almond orchard! Before the trees come we have to make berms or mounds for the trees to be planted on. Berms help to divert rain water and irrigation water away from the tree trunk to prevent root and trunk diseases. To make the berms a surveyor comes into the field and measures the row spacing with laser surveying equipment. He marks the center of the berm with a white bag for the tractor operator to know where to put the berms. 



We make our tree rows 24 feet apart so the trees have plenty of room to grow. The tractor goes through the orchard and makes the berms for the trees to be planted on top of. Once the berms are formed then we go through the orchard and lay the drip hose on the mounds for irrigation.  When the drip hose is connected to the irrigation system, then it's time to bring in the trees!


The surveyor comes back and measures the tree location for planting and marks th…

Installing a drip irrigation system

The orchard we took out in out with old, has now gone through the reestablishing phase. The old orchard was on a flood irrigation system, which was very popular when the orchard was planted in the early 80s. Now we have come further with technology to know that drip irrigation is the best irrigation system for our soil type and water conditions.

Building a drip irrigation system takes multiple steps and is a several week process. First we ripped the soil, then we leveled the field to get ready for the new system. We worked with an irrigation company that engineered and designed design the new system. We hired a surveyor to lay out where everything was going to be placed, prior to starting construction of the new irrigation system. Knowing where everything is going to be installed before you get the to the field helps speed up the installation and avoid confusion.


So the ground is level and you have your plan, next the pipe arrives in huge semi truck loads. We take the pip…

Not only an employee, a member of the family

Growing up as a farmers daughter I drove around a lot with my father; checking on the trees, checking on the employees or just walking the orchards and learning from my Dad. I especially enjoyed checking the employees around lunch time, in which they would be cooking up some tacos, with homemade tortillas and salsa. At a young age I nicknamed one gentlemen, Taco Jesse, because he would always save a taco for me when he would see me coming. These lunch time visits were just the beginning of our family relationships with our employees. Every party or family wedding they would always be there to celebrate with us. Our employees had become part of our family as I grew up. From sun up to sun down, they spent more time with my family then their own sometimes. They weren't just working on my family farm for a pay check, our family farm was their livelihood too. If our farm was successful, they would be successful.

This last weekend I got to think about growing up on the farm and my relat…

There she blows...

Well, the Central Valley finally received some rain last weekend! While some parts of Northern California had a few inches, and neighborhoods in Los Angeles were being evacuated for fear of mud slides, the Kern County communities received anywhere between .35-.85 inches. It seems crazy, in our town some roads were flooded and lots of orchards lost hundreds of trees, and we didn't even get an inch of rain. What was most important was snow in the mountains and rain near the dams, which we received lots of. We are very thankful for what we received! But just because we received some rain we aren't free and clear, we are still in a drought. It could rain every day for the next month and we will still be in a drought.

The California Precipitation Stations measured Bakersfield to have received 1.55 inches of rain this season. Whereas in a normal year we should have received 4.57 inches thus far. The Central Valley is having 1-2 day periods of rainstorms and heavy wind follo…