Machines shaking up Valley almond orchards

August 30, 2012 12:01:35 AM PDT
The rapidly growing almond industry expects to produce two billion pounds of nuts this year. Harvest is well underway with the aptly named Shock Wave violently shaking almonds off trees long before you can enjoy them.

Growers say they're almonds on the tree but "ammonds" once they're on the ground. The reason - the shaker knocks the "L" out of them. It's an old joke but it makes growers like Shawn Colburn smile during harvest.

Colburn said, "Right now the crop is a little bit off from last year but not a bad crop. The size look good. The quality looks excellent."

The almond hulls have split so they are ready to be shaken off the tree. In another week they'll be picked up and processed.

Global consumption of almonds has exploded in recent years, especially in countries like China and India.

Colburn explained, "The one thing we're concerned with is that we make sure we have a big enough crop this year to make sure we can take care of our new markets we've developed because you don't want to have a shortage in a newly created market."

Fresno County Farm Bureau executive director Ryan Jacobsen said almonds rank as Fresno County's number-two crop, just behind grapes.

Jacobsen said, "619 million dollars and as that replicates, we're talking almost a two billion dollar industry in this county so they play a major role. Many of those almonds do end up in the export market. They're incredibly popular overseas."

And don't worry about the health of the almond tree during harvest. The shaking suits them just fine.


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