How We Grow

2020 May/June How We Grow

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 7 of 19

A L M O N D O R C H A R D 2 0 2 5 G O A L S HARVEST DUST Dollars and Sense: Economics, Research Propel Gradual Move to Off-Ground Harvesting For Trinitas Farming, the decision to experiment with off-ground harvesting was motivated by necessity and grounded by an ethic of continual innovation to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Three years into its independent trial of off-ground harvesting, the company has seen positive results – economically and environmentally – and learned a lot along the way. "On some of our acreage we face orchard conditions that are not typical in traditional almond growing areas, such as uneven or rocky ground," said Executive Vice President Danny Ramos of Trinitas Farming, which grows almonds from Kern to Solano counties. "We were looking to improve harvesting in orchards with challenging floor conditions and find solutions for dust reduction while reducing passes through orchards during harvest time." Ramos noted that Trinitas specifically saw an opportunity for better crop recovery in orchards with heavy clay soils. "You can get cracking in those soils and a lot of nuts can be lost there," Ramos said. "We noted that if we could keep the nuts off the floor, then we could potentially achieve greater yields." Trinitas' journey toward off-ground harvesting started by making significant modifications to a catch-frame harvester commonly used with pistachios. Several key learnings emerged after they used the modified harvester, leading Trinitas to adjust future plantings to better accommodate off-ground harvesting. "We learned that tree structure was crucial," Ramos said. "We needed to have a lot of head space on the tree, and they had to be growing straight and upright. You can't back into tree structure to try to accommodate an off-ground harvester. "All our new plantings are being staked, tied and trained to develop orchards that will have fewer complications adapting to this innovation," Ramos said. He also mentioned that more headland space is required to turn around with a catch-frame harvester, another consideration included in the company's new orchard plantings. Following the initial trial with the modified pistachio harvester, Trinitas purchased an over-the-top-of-the-tree catch-frame harvester specifically designed for almonds. "We became aware of an off-ground harvester from the company Tenias and have run it now for a couple of harvests," Ramos said. "With that machine, though, tree structure is still important; you need straight, taller trunks." Those couple harvest seasons also brought to light issues following the shaking and catching of nuts that are not traditionally dried on the orchard floor. "We learned in our trials that the industry isn't quite ready to efficiently handle the Trinitas Farming saw a significant reduction in visible dust thanks to the implementation of an over-the-top-of-the-tree catch-frame harvester. "The Harvest Workgroup is kicking off a truly transformative process. This is a journey for the industry, and there will likely be an evolution from conventional to semi-off-ground to full off-ground harvesting." — Sebastian Saa 7

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of How We Grow - 2020 May/June How We Grow