Almonds grow on trees that can produce for over twenty years. The trees bloom in the spring. Each flower grows into a fruit. The fruit is actually a hull, or thick skin covering a hard shell within which is the nut, or meat. The trees are mechanically harvested in the late summer. First a shaker grabs the trunk of the tree and gives it a vigorous shake for a few seconds until the nuts fall to the ground. Next another machine sweeps the nuts into a row. Finally, a third machine picks the nuts off the ground. The nuts loaded in trailers are taken to a “huller” where the hulls and shells are removed, leaving the bare nuts. In the fall, the almond trees, being deciduous, lose their leaves. They are dormant until spring when the cycle starts over again.
Almonds are a very important crop for California. About 70% of the state’s production is exported, making almonds California’s number one agricultural export crop. The value of almond exports is greater than the next three agricultural exports combined.
Almonds have been proven to be a very healthy food. The American Heart Association has come out with interesting research to support this. For nutritional information, click on the link, Almonds Are In! http://almondsarein.com/.