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New Video Asks You to Consider Your Soil and Your Neighbors at Harvest


For most of the year, dirt is a great thing. It supports tree and root health, anchors trees in the ground and provides paths for equipment to travel. However, during harvest, some of that dirt becomes dust — a nuisance for those around orchards in the Central Valley.

Dust created during harvest often escapes the confines of the orchard, and can overtake barbecues, playgrounds and swimming pools, and creep onto busy roads. While a little extra dust may seem like a necessary byproduct of bringing in the harvest, it is an unwelcome annual visitor for those who live, work and play around almond orchards.

Tools to Manage Dust
It doesn’t have to be that way. Everyone who works in the orchard during harvest can play a role in reducing dust by following key practices. Almond Board of California has developed several research-based tools that provide recommendations for managing dust at harvest while using existing harvest equipment. There’s an English and Spanish technical guide and a dust tool kit, with simple reminders of the top four dust reduction strategies. And new this year are “Managing Dust at Harvest” videos available by specific harvest activity (harvest preparation, sweeping, and pickup) or a full video capturing the entire process. A Spanish language version of the video is in development and will be available in mid-July.

First off, the video stresses that the single fastest way to reduce dust at harvest is through the purchase of new harvesting equipment that is specifically designed for this purpose, or by contracting with custom harvesters who use newer equipment. Incentive funds are currently available from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through its Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). To learn more about this funding, growers should contact their local NRCS office; to find the office nearest you, visit the Almond Board’s Industry Resource Map ( and filter for the category “NRCS.”

Adjusting Practices
For existing equipment, the video details the research-based steps you can take before harvest, while sweeping and during pickup that will reduce harvest dust, keeping in mind your orchard soil conditions and considering your neighbors. Making these small adjustments in harvest practices can add up to great improvements in dust reduction across the growing region.

Now is a good time to watch the video and begin planning with your crew — whether it’s your own employees or custom harvester — how these practices will be implemented in the coming harvest. Depending on your local harvest timing, it may also be time to consider how you will take on the first dust-reduction practice outlined in the video — starting with a clean orchard floor.

The videos and supporting educational tools are all available here. Keep an eye out for hard copies of the tool kit and quick guides in a July mailing.

Remember to keep dust inside your orchard this season, and together, we can all breathe easier at harvest!