Off Ground Almond Harvesting Being Tested
Off ground almond harvesting is something the Almond Board is researching to minimize dust that occurs with current methods. One equipment manufacturer is researching it with a well-working machine, that's doing the job.
Matthew Coe with Coe Orchard Equipment in Sutter County said they have that necessary two-piece machine to harvest almonds off the ground. “For decades we've been doing the shaking, catching, of fruits such as cherries and prunes, as well as pistachios. And so we've been working on using our existing machines for almonds,” said Coe. “We basically shake it, catch it, put it in a bulk tank and you can take it to processing. So he doesn't ever have to touch the ground. You don't have to worry about insects,” he said.
And one reason to shake almonds off the ground is to reduce that dust. “There’s a lot less dust because you’re not sweeping. You're not doing any picking up. You're just shaking, catching it and then banking the almonds out and putting them into the trailer.
We asked Matthew, if he's bullish about this type of harvest. “You know, it's going to take a lot of cultural practice changes in the field, higher trunks, and more open alleyways,” said Coe. “And the real tough point is getting the processors on board to put in the processing equipment to do it. It's going to take a lot of work to convert the industry, but we may need to progress that way. Yeah.
“We've been doing the catch frames for years. It just never been applied to the almonds or walnuts just because culturally that's how they've done it. Grower shook the nuts to the ground, and let Mother Nature dry them down. It’s worked great for years. However, with the large amount of acreage as much sweeping and picking up as we do it, obviously it's caused a lot of dust and environmental issues,” noted Coe.