A review of my California Almond Orchard Tour in Lodi, CA to learn about sustainability, growth and nutrition of almonds.
I was very excited to be invited to the 2015 Almond Orchard Tour by the Almond Board of California. I mean, helloooooooooo… a trip to beautiful California, filled with delicious food and wine, information, and surrounded by an amazing group of blogging women? Count me in!
I’m starting my post by addressing the biggest concern about almonds that I hear about in the aisles. Almonds and water usage. It has been documented that an almond can take up to 1 gallon of water to grow (which seams outrageous, right?!). Gaining insight into this wildly-popular food was my focus for this trip. The reality is that the almond kernel that you and I eat, is not the only “fruit” of the tree. There are actually 3 parts of the almond tree that are harvested and used (the almond kernel is but one part).
- Hull. -DYK that almonds are closely related to peaches? Yup! And after seeing almonds on the tree, it totally makes sense. The hull of an almond is like the fruit part of the peach that we eat. The almond hull is used as cattle feed. For ever 1 pound of almonds, there are 2 pounds of nutrient-rich hulls.
- Shell. We often see almonds in shells around the holiday time, but these shells are used as cattle bedding and also burned as energy.
- Almond kernel. This is the part that we eat.
Almond growers have implemented innovative micro-irrigation systems that help to monitor the tree, soil and even weather conditions to determine the appropriate water usage (reducing water used per pound by 33%). Many growers even have phone apps that help them determine what action to take. (I wish MY garden had those capabilities).
Almonds are harvested around August. Most orchards are home to 2-3 different almond varieties which require 2-3 different harvest times.
The coolest part is that they use a shaker to remove the fruit from the trees. This big machine literally drives up to the tree, hugs it and wiggles the trunk causing the almonds to “rain” down. AMAZING! The fruit is allowed to dry on the ground via solar power (thank you sun) then swept up to be processed into the almond products we love.
I’ll continue with more of the trip on my next post, but wanted to leave you with some photos of the orchards.
Disclosure: *This trip was paid for by The Almond Board of California. I was not required to write this post or compensated for the post. All thoughts and opinions are my own*