Skip to main content

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…

What fertilizers do almonds need?

It's spring and the almond trees are covered with shiny leaves and growing nuts. The trees are beautiful and full of new life. As they grow the 2016 harvest crop, they need fertilizer to help them grow. Fertilizer is like plant food or vitamins that give the trees a little extra boost. Just like you feed your garden fertilizer, your rose bushes plant food, or like how you take your daily vitamins, we feed our almond trees fertilizer.
We prefer the fertigation method to fertilize our trees through the water in our irrigation drip hoses. This helps us to be more efficient and effective in our fertilizer use. When we fertilize in the spring we use three different kinds of fertilizers; Nitrogen, Potassium and Zinc. It is like a farmers version of a a perfect vitamin combination.

Nitrogen is important to help encourage leaf growth and nut development. Nitrogen provides the building block to form protein and oils.  One of the key reasons you probably eat almonds is because they are high in protein. By us adding nitrogen to the soil, we are ensuring the protein levels will develop in the almond. Almonds also have great natural oils, making almond oil a great ingredient in your shampoo or making that almond butter extra creamy.
Nitrogen deficiencies in an almond tree can cause chlorotic older leaves, or most commonly referred to as yellowing leaves. We want the leaves to be healthy and full or nitrogen. We have to be very careful when apply nitrogen because it is so mobile. We don't want it beyond the tree roots or else the tree will not be able to properly use the nitrogen. That is why using drip irrigation is a great tool for nitrogen because we can slowly apply it perfectly to stay in the root zone.

Potassium is another fertilizer almonds need. Almonds take up a lot of Potassium from the soil in developing their nuts, so we need to replenish this into the soil so they can continue to thrive. Just as people require the perfect level of potassium, so do trees. The almond nut uses and stores a lot of potassium, similar to how a banana has a lot of potassium. It is a difficult element to extract from the soil, so we have to apply the potassium to ensure proper nut development. A lack of potassium will cause the entire tree's leaves to discolor yellow. This would cause the tree to stress and be sick, and we want healthy and happy trees!

Zinc is the last of our spring fertilizers we use.  If almonds don't have proper amounts of zinc it will lead to chlorotic leaves on the younger tissues.  It will also lead to shorter distances between the leaves on a branch with a malnourished zinc tree. We have to ensure there is ample amount of zinc in the soil and tree by applying through the drip system to get right at the root zone. This application process will speed up the absorption into the tree. Zinc is not very mobile in the tree or soil either so fertigation is a saving grace for applying zinc.

It is important for farmers to test our soil pH prior to applying fertilizers so we know what our soils are deficient in.  Our trees are our babies, and we want to make sure they have the vitamins they need to thrive. Consider it their toddler doctor check up! Our trees don't talk to us, so by paying attention to their leaves, tissue colors and testings we can learn what they need.  We apply these fertilizers in the spring  to allow the tree time to grow properly and have properly developed nuts. Soon our little almonds will be all grown up and ready to be harvested!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl


Popular posts from this blog

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 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 are the hard layer between the hull and the almond meat. …

Modern Agriculture

What is Modern Agriculture?
Modern agriculture could be a scientist in a lab creating the newest impossible non-meat hamburger. Modern agriculture could mean the development of GMO seeds to decrease pesticide use. Modern agriculture could be turning on your irrigation system from an app on your computer. Modern agriculture could just mean the use of GPS in tractors, or maybe just the use of a tractor on a farm. Modern agriculture could mean something different to you depending on how you look at agriculture.

Modern agriculture is essentially developing practices that help farmers increase efficiency and reduce the amount of resources to meet the world's needs. But depending on your interpretation of the term you could already have created your opinion of modern agriculture. 2% of the population is involved in agriculture but 100% of the population has opinions.
That's the situation we face today, consumers tend to develop their own opinions of modern agriculture without unders…

Bloom and freezing temperatures

It's the most beautiful time of year to be an almond farmer. The buds are blooming and flowers are open everywhere. But as Mother Nature presents herself, no beauty comes without a challenge.

The first full week of February came and it brought with it almond blossoms. Bees were brought in about a week before that. We want the bees to arrive before bloom starts so they can get acclimated with their surroundings. This way when the buds finally open and flowers pop out, the bees know exactly where to go and what to do.

When the bees arrived it was sunny with high 60 degree weather. It was perfect conditions for them to get to work, but the flowers weren't quite ready to pop yet.

Now as full bloom approaches, we have returned to cold weather where the bees don't want to work much during the days. Bees prefer warmer temperatures, so when it's too cold they stay in the hives most of the time. We have had multiple nights of mid to high 20s. Freezing temperatures at night will…