Almonds, pollination and harvesting

Honey Bee Colonies pollinating Almonds in 2010

To get almonds you need pollinators. Above is an image of a handful of honey bee colonies out in an orchard during the almond bloom. This pollination starts at the end of January and throughout February depending on weather. There are close to a million honey bee colonies in California during the time of this bloom. This makes California’s Almond bloom the largest annual managed pollination event in the world. Below are images of almonds on the trees several months after pollination.

Almond on Tree before the hull starts to split.

Almond hull starting to split.

During this time of year almonds are becoming mature and harvesters are preparing to start shaking the trees. Once the almonds reach a point where 100% of the hulls are split (the hull is the outer shell that splits as the almond ripens exposing the shell) the nuts can be shaken from the trees. The almonds dry on the tree in 2-3 weeks, are shaken from the tree and will dry on the ground from 7 to 10 days. Once the hulls are dry enough, they will be swept into the middle of orchard rows to be picked up by a pickup machine. Once the pickup machine gathers the nuts they will be loaded onto trailers and delivered to a huller. Once the huller receives the almonds, they will remove the hulls. The inshells are then delivered to a processor. Here the nuts will be graded for distribution. I hope to see this process in the upcoming weeks in the Sacramento Valley.

Almond hulling company.

In the image above you can see the hulling company. The hulling equipment is in the building on the right and the open building to the left is where the hulls are stored. Once the almonds are hulled the hull is conveyed into this building and stored into a pile. They then sell these hulls mainly to dairy farms for cattle feed. Once the inshells are separated, they will be taken to a receiving station or processor. There is a picture of a receiving station below. From here the almonds will be trucked to be processed (bagged, labeled) and then will be distributed once processing is complete. I would like to thank Joe Connell of the Butte County Extension for his help with this blog.

Almond receiving station.

Written By: Rob Snyder

Rob Snyder has written 66 post in this blog.

I currently work out of the Butte County Cooperative Extension in Oroville, CA as a Crop Protection Agent. I received my B.S. in biology from Delaware Valley College, PA. There I attained a majority of my entomological knowledge from Dr. Chris Tipping and Dr. Robert Berthold. After graduation, I was an apiary inspector for 2 years at the Department of Agriculture in Pennsylvania. In my third year there, I still inspected some colonies but I mainly focused on The Pennsylvania Native Bee Survey (PANBS) where I pinned, labeled, entered data and identified native bees to genus species. Leo Donavall assisted me in learning the basics on positive Identifications of the native bees. Around the same time I began working on coordinating kit construction and distribution for the APHIS National Honey Bee Survey. I was also fortunate to conduct many of these surveys with fellow co-worker Mike Andree and Nathan Rice of USDA/ARS throughout California. All of these experiences have led me to where I am today, working to assist beekeepers in maintaining genetic diverse colonies resistant to parasites while reducing the use of chemical treatments in colonies. The BIP Diagnostic Lab at the University of MD is in an integral part of this process by generating reports in which we can track change and report to beekeepers vital information in a timely manner which may influence their treatment decisions.

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7 Responses to “Almonds, pollination and harvesting”

  1. Mark Harris

    Do you know what happens to the excess honey the almond pollinators generate? I understand it is unpalatable for human consumption. Thank you.

  2. Rob Snyder

    Almonds bloom in early spring so all the nectar that is collected by the bees is used to generate brood to build up the colonly.

  3. Rodger Rokos

    While wild almond species are toxic, domesticated almonds are not; Jared Diamond argues that a common genetic mutation causes an absence of glycoside amygdalin, and this mutant was grown by early farmers, “at first unintentionally in the garbage heaps, and later intentionally in their orchards”. ”

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  4. Janett Ota

    Almond milk is a very common preparation from almond. Grind blanched almonds to a smooth paste; add sugar and cold boiled water — giving it the consistency of milk for a nutritious, healthy drink rich in vitamins. It is easily digestible than cow’s milk making it an ideal wholesome drink for children. Almond butter is another variation prepared from almonds, beneficial for older people who don’t get enough proteins in their diets. Besides the intake of high calorie protein, other ingredients contained in almonds are easily digestible.^..”;

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