Production of an Almond Crop
Almond orchards are a long term and costly investment, however they can provide excellent returns to growers over a prolonged period of time. An almond tree generally produces a crop for 20 to 25 years, although they will not produce a significant crop until the 3rd or 4th year after planting. Here are the key stages of almond production over an average year.
Budding & Blooming
While buds for the new crop will be on the almond tree from November through the winter, it is normally late in February or early in March when the blooms open as winter ends. Depending on variety, the blooms will last from 5 to 14 days, and it is very important that the orchards avoid any frost problems during this period.
Like many of the nations' crops, almond trees are pollinated by bees. The bees are brought into the orchards at the time of bloom and will carry the pollen from tree to tree. Almond orchards are planted with 2 or 3 different tree varieties in alternative rows in order to ensure pollination is successful. The bees work best in warm, dry weather and play a key role in dictating the yield of the coming crop.
Nut Development and Hull Split
After bloom is over, the almonds will grow on the trees from March through June. The shell protecting the nut will harden dring this time, and inside the almond kernel will form. In July, the almond hulls begin to split, exposing the almond kernel and the inner shell to the heat outside. This heat allows the inner shell to dry. As the crop approaches harvest in August, the hull becomes very tough, but still holds on to the inner shell of the almond, helping to secure the kernel inside.
The almond crop is harvested from August through October. Before the harvesting of an orchard can begin, the grower has a number of tasks to carry out. The floor of the orchard must be cleared of all trash and debris, the air in the orchard needs to be dry with little humidity, and timing in that orchard. The later varieties will be harvested as late as 60 days after early varieties such as Nonpareil.
After the trees are harvested, they are already beginning the process of generating a new crop of almonds. Buds will develop during the fall and the trees will lay dormant through the winter with the buds ready to begin the process again in the spring.