Walnut cash-buying period begins in Tulare County

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The cars lined up at Hart Receiving near Farmersville Monday morning. (KFSN)

The cars lined up at Hart Receiving near Farmersville Monday morning.

The gleaners and growers waited patiently to unload their walnuts, left over from this year's harvest.

The walnuts were weighed, and the sellers got paid in cash.

First-time walnut gleaner Brandon Edmonds estimates he sold between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds of nuts.

"Fortunately we all got the opportunity from a customer of ours at the Runway Café," Edmonds said. "He has a walnut field and he let us pick because he wasn't going to make enough money off of it. So the kids are going to have a good Christmas this year."

Monday marked the first day of Tulare County's walnut buying period, whereby people like Edmonds can sell to the small number of buying stands left, for cash.

But before the transaction, sellers must show the paperwork that proves the walnuts are theirs.

It is part of the county's nut theft ordinance, which became even stricter earlier this year with amendments such as requiring the seller's thumbprint on the proof of ownership certificate.

County inspectors are also on-site this year, enforcing the ordinance.

"They're checking for the proof of possession certificate," said Tulare County Deputy Agricultural Commissioner David Case. "They're checking for the small grower's certificate. If they don't have those in hand, they are confiscating the walnuts, they're issuing violations."

Case says they have issued around 50 violations this year. He says the violations are basically fix-it-tickets to the sellers.

"(We give) it to them and saying hey, you did something wrong, let's make sure you're not stealing walnuts," Case said. "We'll go ahead and verify everything that you had the right to possess those walnuts, and we'll go ahead and release them to you."

Sellers could be placed on a do not buy list, but county officials say they have returned a majority of the walnuts they have confiscated (when the seller returns with the right paperwork).
They expect fewer violations and confiscations next year, predicting more people will know what to bring with them, aside from the nuts.

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