Farm Focus: Almond Update

Last year in March we planted 20 acres of almonds.  The almonds were planted on the only land we have that isn't contiguous with our current orchard at Frog Hollow. We took a drive out there last week to check on our trees.  We are happy to report that they are looking extremely happy under the care of our new farm manager John Papini. The trees are lush and green and putting on new branches and growth. 

It's hard to believe that after all the rain we had this winter that we need to start thinking about irrigation, but we do, especially for the young trees whose root systems are still shallow and developing. We are gearing up to irrigate the almonds for the first time this season. We are using a new irrigation system in the almonds for labor efficiency.  The bulk of our orchard has micro-sprinklers. The micro sprinklers emit a fine mist of water about 10 inches above the soil. Though our micro sprinklers do a great job, they are very time-consuming. The emitters clog easily so every time we turn on the irrigation we have to walk the lines to check to be sure all the emitters are functioning.  For the almonds, we are trying out drip irrigation. 

The drip system emits water directly onto the soil above the roots zone. The water filters down under the drip line and saturates the soil there before it expands out to irrigate the entire root system. We are excited about this new system because we will only be irrigating the root system and not weeds on top of the soil. Because the drip line is laying on the ground, we can't use mechanical means for weed control, which is ok, because we use weed whackers for all of our weed management anyway.  Our ground team will just have to be extra careful when whacking down weeds and not hit the line! 

Despite being only a little over a year old, we already have almonds on the trees. We are estimating we will have about 1,000 pounds of almonds this September! Because our harvest will be relatively small (for commercial production) we will have to figure out how to have the nuts removed from their hulls without typical mechanical means.  But once we do, the reward will be sweet. Look for fresh almonds in their young, green and peel-able shells as an add-on this Fall! 

In the meantime, we just couldn't wait for crunchy, sweet and healthy almonds to snack on so we are partnering with Burroughs Family Farm, to bring organic raw almonds to the CSA webstore. Look for them this week!

Lael Gerhart