The almond is the product of an almond tree and almost all of the world’s wholesale almonds come from California. Farmers grow almonds trees throughout the year and harvest them between the months of August to October. Dependent on water, it takes almost 1 gallon of water to produce each almond.
The best conditions for almond tree farming are climates conducive to a particular winter chilling, which limits almond tree farming to a few regions in the world. Outside of California, you’ll also find almond farmers in Spain, Italy, Australia, Greece, Morocco, Turkey, and Portugal.
As we are starting to see the first almond blooms of the season, let’s delve in deeper on the almond tree farming process.
From Bud to Bloom
From November to February, the buds of the almond tree need to go through the cold weather, but it’s a balance since they can be negatively impacted by a heavy frost. In late February and early March, the almond tree begins to produce blossoms that are ready for pollination.
Since there are different varietals, the time frame of when blooms occur can vary. Climate variation is considered one of the most critical phases in growing almond trees since it can profoundly impact the harvest size. Between late February and early March, almond tree buds burst into beautiful light pink and white blooms in preparation for pollination.
The Pollination Process
Once the almond tree has blossomed, the second phase is pollination. Many almond trees are not self-pollinating, so bees provide the missing piece of the puzzle. Populations of bees are brought to the orchard to carry pollen and initiate crop development.
The Maturing and Hull-Split of Almonds
From March to June the almond tree begins to transform the blossoms into an almond in their hull. Also at this time, green almonds are harvested for various culinary uses. By mid-to-late summer, almond hulls begin to split open exposing the almond shell and allowing it to dry. Shortly before harvest, the hulls open completely.
Almond Tree Harvesting and Processing
The harvest season for almond farmers is from August to October. The growers have mechanical tree shakers which allow the almonds to fall to the ground. For the next 8 – 10 days, the almonds continue to dry in their shell in the orchard and are then swept and picked up by machines.
The drying process of the almonds is critical for the most optimal harvest. At this point, the almonds are transported in their shells onto a roller where the shells, hulls and remaining debris are removed. Every part of the harvest from the almonds to shells to hulls are utilized. After sizing, almonds are kept in controlled storage conditions to maintain quality until they’re shipped to market through various packaging methods and sold as wholesale almonds.