Monday, September 4, 2017

Almonds drying in the orchard trees … the very hot sun nipping on your nose

It’s hot. Very hot.
It’s so hot that almonds are literally drying on the trees, reports a sun-baked field scout Jenna Mayfield. Talk about dry roasted almonds!

“Everyone is dealing with the heat,” Jenna says. “The temperature doesn’t drop very much at night.”

The very hot weather is drying the almonds on the trees.
As August came to a close, the National Weather Service reported the Fresno area averaged 99.4 degreesfor the month. Triple digit temperatures dominated the final week of August and the start of September. We finally caught a break this week with temperatures dipping under the century mark.

“The almonds are drying in the trees because of the hot weather. It makes it pretty easy to shake the nuts off the trees,” Jenna says.

Heat waves are no surprise for the San Joaquin Valley. But this weather certainly stands out. For instance, the region hit a high of 109 on August 28, breaking the previous record of 108 degrees set in 1924. The 109 reached on the 29th tied the record high first set in 1915.

In some ways, the string of triple-digit temperatures is helping growers with orchard sanitation. The reason: More nuts are coming off the trees during mechanical shaking, improving the odds that growers won’t have to shake the trees a second time or come back to knock off mummy nuts in the winter.

Growers must wait for equipment to sweep up the almonds.
“This is an excellent way to do all your orchard sanitation at one time,” Jenna says. “You want to stay on top of this issue from now until mid-February.”

Normally, almonds often stay on the ground for a few days to dry. However, they should be swept up and hauled to the huller as soon as possible to avoid damage from pests, especially ants.

“I’ve seen so many ants. Growers are trying to pick up the nuts as fast as they can,” Jenna says.
But there is one problem, especially for smaller almond operations. Many of the same equipment operators who work in the almond orchards run equipment for other Valley crops. And once crews become available they often go to work first with the largerfarms before going to the smaller operations.

Jenna says it’s not unusual to see nuts lying on the ground for a number of days, waiting for a sweeper to become available to work the orchard. Such is the life of the little farmer.

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