Posted on : September 4th, 2021
Here at Maisie Jane’s we love to give you an authentic look at the almond farmer’s life. One of the most exciting and busy times of the year for us is HARVEST! The farmer must be the master scheduler, paying the up-most attention to their every orchard. You see, traditionally there are several almond varieties in an orchard as they are not self-pollinating, however recently science has developed ‘self-pollinating varieties which I will touch on in a future blog. So that means there are several different almond varieties in any given orchard which all mature at different times and means several harvests in the same orchard!
A qualifying trait for a successful farmer is someone who pays attention to detail and works long hours! Are you ready to hear this line-up of details needing minding all in the fast and furious 8-10-week harvest with no days off and working 12-14-hour days?
*Pre-harvest orchard management: It’s critical to get the orchard well irrigated pre-harvest as you can’t water when nuts are on the ground! Also, all the orchard grasses need to be maintained so we are able to successfully ‘sweep’ and pick-up the almond crop without getting caught up in the grasses.
*The hiring of extra seasonal help! It takes about 3 times the manpower to pull off a successful harvest and finding that help can be extra challenging. In fact, this year you’ll find my 73-year-old father, Ben Bertagna, on some piece of harvesting equipment filling in a gap of needed help!
*Is all of our harvesting equipment in tip-top shape and ready to roll? This means the mechanics of the operation are vigorously fine-tuning all the equipment needed for harvest-and there’s a lot of it! There are the shakers, the sweepers, the bank-outs, and pick-up machines. All of which takes a good beating in the orchard and have many hoses, filters, hydraulics, (you name it) that need to be carefully attended to. Also assuring enough ‘back-stock’ of parts are on hand and ready to be used during the heat of harvest.
*Watching and determining the fine-line of when to harvest, (shake), the almonds. If you wait too long there is potential insect damage and if you shake too soon there will be many that won’t be ‘shaken’ from the trees as they won’t be dry enough and the almonds will stick to the tree.
*Determining when the almonds are dry enough, after shaking, to pick-them up is a critical decision. You can’t bring in the pick-up machine and bank-out too soon otherwise the shells of the nuts will be too ‘moist’ and the huller & sheller factory will not successfully be able to ‘crack-out’ the almonds. Potential risk is you’ll either lose a lot of nuts or they will get damaged with many chips & scratches.
*Moving the equipment around the countryside to all the different orchard locations is a daily important scheduling task. Showing up with trucks and trailers to move the equipment, give any needed equipment tune-ups, and setting up the new location is one reason the farmers need their big trucks.
All of these tasks and many more change from harvest to harvest as mother nature poses a different situation each year. Farming is certainly not a ‘by the book’ profession! There are so many ever changing circumstances that create each harvest to be different. However, when it comes to my family-that’s what makes being an almond farmer so much fun! It’s always a new challenge, thus giving ‘spice to life’ and forcing forward thinking and individual growth. Call the farmer to be the ‘warriors of food’. It’s often a battle to get those tasty crunchy nougats in your hands…..but a good one!
Maisie Jane’s California Sunshine Products, Inc. was founded on strong beliefs and passion for offering unique, flavorful, top-quality nut products. We embrace earth-friendly practices that start on our family-owned and operated orchards. We use organic farming practices and continue in the process by using all-natural ingredients with no preservatives or GMOs. We believe in honest, friendly and helpful customer relations at all levels. We take pride in every task, every day, with every person.