Sunday, September 2, 2012

Almond Harvest

It's almond harvest time here - August. The hottest, driest, dustiest time of the year. And folks are harvesting almonds (that's 'amons' out here in nut country). Back when I was a teenager we used to use rubber mallots and bamboo poles to 'knock' the trees. We laid out canvas tarps under the trees first, whacked the trunk with the rubber mallots, hit the higher branches with the bamboo poles and all the leaves, nuts (hulls, shells and all), sticks, branches, and earwigs would fall down onto us and onto the tarp. Once we were done with the tree we would shake the nuts to the center of the tarp, pull out the sticks and branches and then shovel the nuts into burlap sacks. It wouldn't be almond harvest if it wasn't over 100 F.

Fast forward 30 years....We had a chance last week to go see the kids' dad harvesting almonds in one of the nearby orchards. He was using a mechanical shaker that shakes the tree at the trunk.

Once the nuts fall, they are raked into long lines between the trees. Then they drive a tractor over the lines of nuts. The tractor pulls a blue implement with a conveyer belt which scoops up the almonds and pours them into a red bin, also being pulled by the tractor. Once the bin is full, the tractor backs up to a large truck to empty the almonds. The bin can be lifted hydraulically using the tractor controls.

Above is a photo of my daughter watching the tractor, with both implements attached, backing up to empty the almonds into a truck.

Here is a picture of the red bin lifted into the air, pouring the nuts into the truck. My son is on the truck trying to get a good photo of the action! Once the truck is full they will take the nuts to a local processor to be shelled and sorted. We had a few almonds that day and they were so tasty!

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