The California Almond Harvest is on

The California Almond Harvest is on
It’s harvest season and California’s largest crop is well on its way to retailers all over the world. And no, we are not talking about wine grapes.
Almonds are California’s largest crop and for the Central Valley that means there’s a “whole lot of shakin’ going on.”
That’s because the easiest way to harvest the 2 billion pounds of organic and conventional almonds that are grown in the state, is to literally shake them off the tree. Large and low tractor-like machines crawl under the almond tree canopy, stopping by each plant to extend a claw-like arm which grabs the tree and shakes the almonds to the ground.
If done at the proper time – when the hulls have split – it only takes a eight seconds to harvest a whole tree. The process has given rise to the saying that the harvest “shakes the l” out of the fruit since, in some sections of the state, the downed almonds are pronounced as “ahmond.” Thankfully, that has not become that popular since most consumers would probably find it a bit jarring.
Whatever you call them, the fruit is usually left on the ground for 3-5 days, to dry out a bit, before another machine, with huge brushes and fans, sweeps the crop into long piles. While the process may seem pretty straight forward, most farmers will tell you that there is an art to the sweeping process to make sure the top soil is not removed along with the crop. The piles are then vacuumed up into large containers.
Most small to midsize farms do not own their own harvesting equipment. Since the large devices are just used once a year, it makes little sense to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for a machine. Custom farm equipment companies, which rent out equipment, and even part-time employees, have now filled the gap on many farms.
While the process is much more efficient that hand harvesting, it means that dirt twigs and anything else on the ground gets mixed with the fruit and considerable time has to be spent sifting the almonds from the debris.
But once the separation is complete, the processing to extract the almond kernel can begin. First, the outer hull is removed. You won’t find almond hulls on your grocery shelves, but they do contain a number of nutrients and they are edible by many farm animals, creating a food source for many cattle farms in the central valley. Almond hull dust, generated by the processing, is also recaptured and used as an additive to plant fertilizers.
Once the hulls are removed, almonds are still encased in shells, which are not edible. A series of treatments, during which the almonds and shells are gently squeezed results in the separation of the kernel from the shell. The shells are then sold for a number of uses including as bedding for farm animals, biomass fuel, fireplace logs and as part of manufactured construction material.
The almond kernel, which now recognizable as the familiar product most consumers know, is then ready for final hand sorting, processing and packaging for consumers.
American Export House supplies organic and conventional almond varieties to customers throughout the United States and the World. For more information contact AEH.

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