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What’s Cracking with Almond Harvest 2020?


Grown in California’s Central Valley, almonds are harvested from August to October each year, providing jobs for over 100,000 Californians and supporting healthy diets around the world.

Almond harvest is a multi-step process that involves several pieces of specialized machinery and skilled technicians who operate that equipment harvest and collect the crop. After the in-orchard part of harvest is complete, almonds are transported to  local processing facilities where their outer hulls and shells are removed. Farmers sell those to nearby dairies for cattle feed and bedding, upcycling these almond orchard coproducts.

Back in July, each almond’s protective outer hull split open, exposing the almond shell inside, During that time the kernel inside started drying into the crunchy almond we’re all familiar with. Farmers know when harvest is just around the corner because  the hulls turn a straw-yellow color and open completely.

During the first stage of harvest – right now for many almond varieties! – a machine called a shaker visits every almond tree. A mechanical lobster-like claw clamps onto the tree trunk and shakes the almonds off the branches, making a blanket of almonds on the orchard floor. San Joaquin county almond farmer Danielle Veenstra recently hosted KCRA3-Sacramento to help explain the process.

Protected by their outer hulls and shells, the almonds then spend 7-10 days bathing in the California sun. During this time the nuts dry out, giving them their distinctive crunch.

After the nuts are dry, the sweeping begins! During this stage, almond farmers navigate sweeper machines up and down orchard rows, using fans and built-in brooms – or “sweeping tines” – to arrange the almonds into neat rows down the center of each tree row.

After the almonds are neatly swept into rows, a pickup machine drives over top of them, vacuuming up the almonds. The pickup machine drops them into an adjoining cart that then drives to the edge of the orchard where they are transferred into waiting semi-trucks.

With the almonds loaded and ready to roll, what’s the next step in the almond harvest process? Stay tuned…


Topics: Growing Good