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…

Ask the Expert: Ben Laverty, CSTC

What precautions must farmers take for safety? What about heat safety living in California?  What safety training is required by the employer? I have been asked some great safety related questions that I knew the perfect expert to call on for help answering your questions!


Ask the Expert is a series of posts to answer your questions. I asked you what questions you had about farming and I went out to answer those questions. I am bringing in what I consider industry experts to answer these tough questions and to provide another view point. I am by no means an expert on these tough questions, so I found the experts for you!


Next up, is Ben Laverty IV. Ben serves on a farming board with me and I have gotten to know his family through their business. Ben is in the business of helping farmers help their employees. Ben together with his father, Ben III, and sister, Terra, run California Safety Training Corporation. CSTC helps farmers and other business owners protect their employees safety and comply with state and federal laws. Ready to dive in with Ben?


Almond Girl Jenny (AG):  Can you give us a brief introduction of your company and how it relates to agriculture? 
Ben Laverty IV (BL): Growing up we were farmers. My first memories are of living in the Belridge citrus orchards, then to Idaho farming potatoes with my mom’s family then back to Bakersfield and farming on the west side of Kern.  We left farming but stayed with agriculture and California Safety Training Corporation was born in 1985.  We still work with our first clients teaching agricultural safety including pesticide, tractor, harvest equipment, anything work related then after about 10 years in business we expanded into other industries.  While still more than half of our business is agriculture we now serve construction, manufacturing, mining/oil, transportation, government contractors et al… 


AG: How is your family involved in the business? 
BL: We have been a family business from the inception with all 4 of my siblings and now my 3 teenage daughters helping out. Today, my sister, father and I work together on a day to day basis to see that we help as many people and companies as possible to work safely and efficiently.
AG:  What precautions do farmers take for heat safety? 
BL: First, have a Heat Illness Plan in place and then make sure that it meets all areas in the law and ensure the plan is utilized and documented.  The 5 topics I reiterate to every farmer or business in my classes are 1. Water - 1 quart per person per hour 2.  Shade - keep it close 3. Symptoms - recognize early and save a life.  4.  First aid- cool the body temperature ASAP 5.  Emergency procedures-  how do we get emergency responders to the site? Everyone working in farming has to be able to bust these out on command...


AG: What are the biggest regulations and laws affecting farmers today? 
BL: It’s still all about heat illness prevention but we have seen an increase in citations and enforcement in many diverse areas.  We focus on compliance as a base and then work with companies to develop the best practices for them.



AG: How do you see these changing in the next 10 years? 
BL: The current trend will continue with an increase in regulation and stricter enforcement balanced with increased use of technology to reduce labor costs and exposure to hazards. 


AG:  How has equipment advanced over the past few decades to improve employee safety? 
BL: The improvement in equipment has been exponential and is mind blowing; from guarding of tractors to the mobile device revolution, 3D printing, drones, the use of mechanical/technological harvesting and cultivation practices will change the nature of farming.  It is so exciting to be alive at this point in the history of the world we have the opportunity to help the world be a better place.  Look at us two farm kids blogging :) Who woulda thunk it?

AG:  What safety training is required by the employer? 
BL:  We have several areas which require formal training by qualified trainers; pesticides/chemical and equipment are the main areas. But heat illness is interesting living in the San Joaquin Valley for most of my life sometimes I assume people understand the risks associated with heat.  Farmers must identify the risks associated with every task performed by employees and make sure the workers know how to perform the task correctly/safely.  Additionally remember “you get what you inspect” so if you haven’t observed and documented employees doing it the right way you have not done your due diligence

It was great working with Ben on this safety blog for you all. I hope you have a little more insight into how farmers ensure they operate in a safe manner.


And don't forget the other posts from the Ask the Expert series:
Mike Mulligan, Glory Bee
Matthew Haddon, Sierra Gold
John Wilkins, Valley Tool

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Comments

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…