Growers expect largest walnut harvest

Oct 8, 2014 8:10 PM by Jason Atcho

It's harvest season for walnut growers in the north state and this year's crop is expected to be bigger than ever.

Bill Anderson's family has been farming in Butte County since 1856 and he's owned a 100 acre nut orchard since 1970. He says the north state has the prime conditions to grow walnuts. "You need a little bit of freeze for them to be dormant in the winter time, you need good soils, and plentiful water," said Anderson.

With California's historic drought conditions, local growers were forced to react. "This year was more of a challenge with the rain and not getting it last winter. We started irrigating in the orchard earlier than ever this year," he said.

Anderson also used proactive measures to protect the nuts from getting burned by the scorching sun. "We put a spray on that helps like a sun block for the nuts themselves to reflect sunlight."

Local growers have been making the switch to walnuts recently as profit margins increase. "The plantings themselves can be as close as 20 by 18 which will put you at a hundred plus trees an acre. So there's a lot more volume of trees per acre and a lot more acres in the county," explained Anderson.

Several types of walnuts are grow in the county including Livermore walnuts, which were discovered growing in the wild in China. "They're kind of a fun walnut. There's more and more people growing them commercially but they're a nice blood red. They don't bite you in the mouth if you have issues with walnuts because there's no tannic in them," explained Anderson.

Once the walnuts are shipped off, they end up on dinner plates around the globe. "Most of our in shell walnuts are exported out of the country. They go to Europe, Asia, all over the world," said Anderson.


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