TULARE COUNTY - With walnut harvest season fast approaching, some Valley growers are looking for ways to cut costs.
An increasingly popular way to do so is by purchasing machines in place of manual labor. Employees with Jackrabbit say they sell about 70 StickJack machines every year.
After walnut or almond trees are shaken, the machine pulls out sticks that have fallen to the ground. Traditionally, this pre-harvest process is done by hand, but the company says the machines save growers money and are more efficient.
"And not to mention the speed at which this thing can go by rows," said Jackrabbit's Dustin Boothe. "We've been at demos where there's been three to four to even five rakers on the ground, and we'll just blow right by them on the row next to them pulling out more sticks."
Boothe says as more growers see machines like the StickJack, more want to buy them.
Tulare County's agricultural commissioner says automated equipment is almost becoming a necessity for California growers, with strict labor laws and a rising minimum wage.