Almond growers escape mother nature's scares as harvest ends on Halloween

Long time almond grower Dave Phippen says there's no shortage of jokes in the job he enjoys.

"We're nuts to be doing this. We joke about it internally all the time," said Phippen, co-owner of almond processor Travaille & Phippen located on about 40 acres in Manteca.

He can laugh and smile now after enduring one of the most historic rainy and excessive heat years to challenge agriculture in California in decades.

Harvest runs from mid-August to Halloween and he says 80 percent of the world's almonds come from California. Despite this, there were a few challenges this growing season.

"There were quite a few challenges with all the rainfall and extreme windfall we had," said Phippen. So it blew over a lot of almond trees. It caused some challenges with disease in the orchards."

Phippen says the extreme heat also attracted worms and mites which also stressed and damaged trees in the summer.

"We have seen some growers come in and have said their crops were a little off this year. You can attribute the wet weather, obviously, certainly," said Bruce Blodgett, executive director at the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation.

The wet weather delayed getting bees into orchards to pollinate by close to two weeks in some cases. That's because some orchards turned into mud making it difficult to get hives in, but the bees were able to get the job done.

San Joaquin County's number two cash crop is almonds at a value of over $300 million. Despite the rough weather, Phippen says this year's harvest is the best he has seen in over 30 years.

"If we would have had a quarter or half inch of rain sometime in September we would have had to stop harvest and wait for things to dry for maybe a week or two weeks. That delays harvest. We didn't have those delays," said Phippen. 

Phippen says he processes 32 million pounds of almonds a year supplying not only to the U.S., but around the world particularly to Japan, United Arab Emirates and India.

California is the only state in the U.S. which grows the nut.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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