It is mid-august, school is starting back up even though it is still technically summer, it is a busy time of year no matter where you are or what you do. In California, August is particularly eventful because of all the harvests that are going on. Some crops- like almonds- are harvested a little different than say wheat or corn.
About the second week of harvest, farmers begin the harvest process by shaking trees. A tree shaker is a machine that has a boom with a clamp on the side. The operator will use a joy-stick to extend the boom, clamp the trunk of the tree and shake it for about three seconds until all the almonds rain down. Then they will unclamp, retract, and drive on to the next tree to repeat this process.
The next step is to sweep the almonds into clean windrows. This is like cutting hay because, sort of like a rake, the sweeper pushes the almonds into the center of the row and away from the base of the trees. The almonds will then sit for around four to five days and when the almonds are dry enough, the picking up process begins.
In the almond industry, we are very original with our names of equipment. For the collection of harvest, we use a pick-up machine that is like a vacuum and a trailer got mashed together. The almonds will get sucked up by the machine sent through into a trailer attached to the pick-up machine. After that trailer is full, somebody will come around and use a bank-out wagon (which is yet another trailer!). Once the bank-out is full, the nuts will be one step closer to being on store shelves.
The bank-out wagon will drive over to, dump the nuts onto an elevator which will move the almonds up and into the truck trailers. After that the trucker will take them to be hulled and shelled, then processed into the snack everyone knows and loves.