Nuts…about agriculture

I’ve been told I have a quirky personality. And, I might be a little nuts. But, as I continue my internship and exploring the world around me, I’m not just nuts. I’m nuts about agriculture.

Caroline is nuts about agriculture

While in California, the whole “being nuts” got to my head when we learning more about nut production in the industry. Almonds and pistachios were the two kinds we focused on — and California is the only state in the U.S. that grows them! In the past 10 years, almonds and pistachios increased in production from 500,000 tons to 2 billion tons. That is quite a jump in the market!


To help you understand a bit more, I will share some facts I learned about nuts. Most of this information was learned while at Terranova Ranch (check out my previous blog post to learn more) and Horizon Nut, a pistachio huller and processer.

Terranova Ranch almonds
Learning about almonds at
Terranova Ranch.

Almonds

  • Trees begin producing nuts at 3-4 years
  • Plants fully mature by age 8
  • Almonds are replacing cotton on Terranova Ranch because a four-fold revenue acquired
Pistachios
  • Trees begin producing nuts at age 7
  • Plants fully mature by age 12
  • Every 5th row of trees is male
  • Peak seasons are October/November and June
Pistachio processing at Horizon Nut
Horizon Nut processes pistachios
and almonds for retail consumers,
like Costco.

Horizon Nut Facts

  • In 2012, 40 million pounds of pistachios processed
  • In 2013, expected to process 65 million pounds
  • All pistachios are pasteurized and roasted before leaving the plant
  • Pistachios take 24 hours to dry after being harvested
  • All nuts are hand sorted
  • Nuts fall into diamond-plated bowl where they are slightly cracked
  • Mixture of chlorine and alcohol used to sanitize facilities
  • Recently purchased new facility to expand to almond processing
Below are some images from inside the facilities. This was an interesting experience and I am glad to have learned more about a piece of the agricultural industry that is often overlooked. We witnessed pistachio processing from start to finish, learned about pistachio defects and received our own bags of Horizon Nut pistachios. If that isn’t interesting, I’m not sure what is! The food industry is more than it seems and learning about the precautions taken to ensure food safety were incredible.

When you enjoy some protein-rich nuts like pistachios or almonds, remember they were California grown and processed. If this doesn’t make you nuts about agriculture, what does?

Pistachio processing at Horizon Nut