Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pecan Harvest

We finally got to experience our first commercial pecan harvest in early January (see What I Didn't Know About Pecan Harvesting for a smaller home harvest). I think that the harvest was late this year because we have had so many storms, and read in the local paper that the nuts that had fallen to the ground would lose quality the longer they were down there. Even so, nothing is wasted--not a single valuable nut.

The time was finally right--we had some drying weather and a good forecast. We woke up one morning before dawn to feel the whole house vibrating. The dishes were rattling in the cupboards, which is a real warning sign to anyone who has ever spent much time in the earthquake-ridden regions along the fault lines in California. The sound of loud agricultural machinery was all around us, setting our teeth on edge for the whole morning.

I rushed out, camera in hand, and was just in time to get some shots of this machine. The operator moves it down the space between two rows of trees, lines it up to grab the trunk, then revs up the motor to give the tree three good shakes. He then backs up a bit before swinging to the next tree on the other side of the row.

They started before dawn

Notice the sweepers around the bottom of the machine. Not a single nut on the ground is to be run over--these nuts are valuable!

If you click on this photo for details, you should see the shaken and falling pecans in mid-air

After all the nuts have been shaken from the trees, this noisy machine sweeps everything on the ground--nuts, branches, leaves, pods--into furrows.

A third machine suctions up the piles and separates out the nuts, mostly still in the pods.

This poor fellow had the cold, often dusty, and uncomfortable job of following the nut-gathering machinery to make sure that not a single nut was missed. He even got down on his knees, when necessary.

Of course, we were over in our own yard, hunched over and picking up all the pecans that fell inside our fence line. We have a great big box of them just waiting for us to shell, out on the patio some warm afternoon.

No comments: