Harvest Best Practices

Best practices before, during and after Walnut Harvest.

Over the years, there has been a steady increase in the worldwide demand for California walnuts. And the reason? Quality. California walnut growers take great care and pride in producing high quality walnuts consistently. And this is what has built our industry’s reputation and put California walnuts in the premium product category ahead of competitors from other parts of the world. Of course, the efforts to ensure quality start with the proper agricultural practices in the orchard, the timing of harvest, and following better harvest practices. The latter has a huge impact on determining the final product quality. Here are a few DOs and DON’Ts.

  • Do not allow nuts to become water stressed. This will lead to lower weight, and obviously, lower returns.
  • Early harvest spray (ethephon) can be used; make sure to apply when the packing tissue of ALL NUTS turns just brown. Applying the spray too early will cause the nuts to not reach full development.
  • Timing is everything. Keep an eye on the weather. Harvesting at the hottest part of the day will cause nuts to stain while harvesting around rainy weather will cause mold development.
  • The earlier the harvest, the lighter the kernel. Nuts left too long on the tree will develop a darker color.
  • Clean orchard = clean nuts! Keeping the orchard floor clear will reduce foreign material in the nuts and will produce a better quality nut for returns.
  • Follow Good Agricultural Practices. This includes the proper maintenance of harvest vehicles, training employees to not eat/spit in active harvest areas, etc.
  • Always have a ‘Safety First’ approach.
  • Get the nuts off the floor and to a huller/dehydrator as soon as possible. This will prevent any quality problems from setting in as well as prevent potential theft, a growing problem in last few years.
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