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Harvesting Walnuts

November 2, 2010

I’m back with more about my time in Sacramento for the 2010 walnut harvest! After the amazing dinner Thursday night I was very excited for what was to come all day Friday. The morning started with a great walk around the capital building, followed by some light yoga with fitness guru Petra Kolber (who I loved meeting and getting to know over the course of the day!).
Petra Kolber fitness guru Post-workout we all met for a lovely breakfast at Old Soul Company, where we were fueled for the morning ahead. Then we were off for the harvest! The harvest began at Fedora Farms, a family-owned walnut farm that uses the most up-to-date, high tech equipment for all parts of the harvest. Walnuts are harvested once a year, between September and November. Here is what a walnut looks like on the tree:

walnut tree
Walnut in outer casing

The harvest on the farm is composed of five parts:

      1. Shaking — walnuts are shaken off the trees using a mechanical shaker. The machine can shake 7 trees a minute! Each tree is shaken once per year.
      2. Sweeping — another machine sweeps the walnuts on the ground into rows to prepare for the final step of the farm process.
      3. Cleaning — mechanical harvesters vacuum the walnuts and dump them into the truck, which is then taken to the processing facility.
        It’s amazing to see how the back of the truck gets filled with walnuts:

        harvesting walnuts
        Before…

        Harvesting walnuts
        …After
      4. Hulling — an aspirator gets rid of insects and then the walnuts are flushed with water to separate the walnuts from debris. Since walnuts float, water is used to sink the debris.
      5. Drying — the walnuts are dried in their shell in 108 degrees F. Here is what the dried walnuts look like:
        harvested walnuts

And that’s the harvesting process in a nutshell (pun intended)!

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