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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