Last week, I was lucky enough to get to experience the almond harvest first hand in Lodi, California and so I thought that I would share some photos and some amazingly fun facts about almonds, one of my favourite powerful plant foods. Come (food) geek out with me…
The Central Valley in California produces a whopping 84% of the world’s almond harvest! Amazingly, the majority of farms are family-owned. Many orchards are smaller acreages and almond farmers may have full time jobs in addition to raising almonds.
Almond orchards have a lifespan of about 25 years and are well suited to hot, dusty climates.
The most expensive part of raising almond trees? Renting the bees to pollinate them! Bees from all over the US are trucked to the almond orchards in mid-February; not only do the almonds benefit, but as the first blossoms to develop in the year, almonds are an important food for the bees!
Almond trees used to be beaten with sticks to loosen the almonds from the branches; now, tractors shake the trees and the almonds fall to the ground. Care has to be taken not to strip the bark from the tree, which will kill it. Almonds are allowed to dry in the sun to reduce moisture content before they are cleaned and processed. Keeping the orchard floor clean and pest free is of critical importance for the harvest.
It was a lot of fun to get to see it all in action, from shaking down the trees to watching it get swept up and rattled around in the processing plants. You never appreciate food more than when you see what it takes to produce it. I managed to get video along each stage of the process so at the end of the month, I will share a video of the almond harvest from shake to sort…stay tuned! Plus, you don’t want to miss the 5 storey piles of almond hulls. Crazy!
Thank you so much to the Almond Board of California for inviting me on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to experience the harvest!
Disclosure: I was a guest of the Almond Board of California during my time in California; however, there was no editorial requirement connected to the trip. This post and the opinions on it are my own creations. My photos, however…didn’t turn out as nicely as the ones I got from the ABC 🙂