Machines that harvest walnuts
Tree shakers, mechanical sweepers, sorters, scanners, packers, processors and water stress sensors are revolutionizing walnut cultivation.
The end of September is walnut harvest time. First we shake the trees with machines and drop the nuts on the ground. Then we use mechanical sweepers that sweep all the nuts off the ground in swaths. They are about three feet wide and lie in a long row on either side of each tree. A collecting machine picks up the nuts from the ground, removes dirt, sticks and leaves and loads them into trailers. From there the walnuts are transported to the peeling machine – around 40 percent still have the green outer shell. It must be removed before cleaning and washing. In the final phase, a dryer uses heated compressed air to press the nuts through huge storage containers in order to reduce the moisture content of the nuts to below eight percent. Then they are stable enough to be processed, cracked and packaged.
I am a second generation walnut farmer. Given how much mechanization has changed the way we work, it’s like switching from the Ford Model T to the Tesla, only in a much shorter time. I’m 51 years old now, and when I was young there wasn’t even a way to mechanically shake the trees. Today, every harvest team picks over 250,000 kilograms of nuts per day, compared to around 1,000 kilograms in the past.
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