Billy Lyons manages the almond orchard at Mapes Ranch. He says the ranch has almost 900 trees per acre in the plot. The plants are pruned like a hedge so they grow straight upward. This allows the trees to fit inside a modified olive harvester. The machine takes the nuts off the trees and conveyors them over to a grape gondola without ever touching the ground.
Lyons says the goal is to eliminate some of the labor in the process as well as other added costs. His trial is using the self-pollinating independence variety on the dwarfing rootstock which he says the ranch has seen several benefits from as well. Lyons added that this is an ongoing project only in its third year. More time is needed before the practice can be recommended.
Listen to Lyons’ full interview.