November 4th, 2011
Nearly Ripe Cluster
Most people don’t realize how dependent we farmers are on the weather. The spring storms brought plenty of snow to the Sierras, which meant plenty of summer water for the trees, but a mild summer made for a later-than-usual harvest. The decision of when to harvest is critical, and it just was hard to call this year.
A Second Shake
We actually had to shake many of the trees twice, as some of the nuts were still a bit green and didn’t fall off during the first shake. No worries though, we got them all in and the quality is excellent.
A Full Bin
Very large, plump and colorful.
The Captain Helps Out
It was nice to have Captain Pistachio at the harvest to help things along.
May 19th, 2011
Fixing a Sprinkler
The storms came through with a vengeance during the Winter and they’ve kept right on through the Spring. The snow pack in the Sierra Nevada is higher than it has been for years and that is good news for farmers down below. It means that we should have plenty of water throughout the Summer. That’s why I’m making sure all the mini-sprinklers are working properly. Actually, conditions are very similar to last year, and as noted here, that was indeed a record crop. No one is looking for anything quite that big this year however, maybe 350 to 400 million pounds (compared to 520 plus last year!) The reason for this is that Pistachio Trees, like a long distance runner, basketball player, or any high level athlete need time to recuperate. They are just on a slower cycle. So they are a little worn out after last year’s record breaking performance, but with plenty of water and good growing conditions this Summer, we should have a very nice crop of healthy, delicious Pistachios to harvest next Fall.
- Should be fine all Summer
November 18th, 2010
As Tim wrote in his blog, we had a very nice crop of Pistachio nuts this year and for that we are very thankful.
Checking Out the Crop with Tim
One thing about being a farmer is that you never know what will happen and how the crop is going to turn out until you actually harvest.
One of the best things about this year’s crop is the size and quality of the nuts. Almost all were the largest size (called “Colossal”) and very little stain or insect damage. Also, there are usually quite a few “blanks”, shells that haven’t filled with meat, but this year there were very few of these.
A Bin of Big Beautiful Nuts
Most of the farmers think the wet winter and spring we had was the reason for this but no one is really sure. Like I say, you never know. The longer I farm, the more I learn. But it all added up to a great crop and happy faces here at SLO Farm. In a couple of weeks we will start pruning and begin the whole cycle all over again. For now, like I do after every harvest, I’m off to Canada to go fishing!!
Update from Canada
August 1st, 2010
As Tim said in his blog, the 2010 Pistachio crop at San Luis Obispo Farm is looking good.
Loaded with Nuts
The trees are just loaded with nuts and as healthy as can be. Judging from the amount of nuts on our trees this year, I think we could be in for a record-breaking yield in September. One thing contributing to this is the peculiar manner in which Pistachio trees bear fruit. Essentially, the trees will have alternating “on” and “off” years, yielding as much as 40% more in the “on” years. In other words, if you had a million pound crop in 2009 in an “off” year, you might expect as much as 1.4 million pounds in 2010.
No one knows exactly why this is, but every Pistachio tree does this. It doesn’t even depend on when the tree was planted. We have some trees in our orchard that are in an “off” year this year, though most of them are on the “larger yield” part of the cycle. As far as the whole state goes, California Pistachio production will be a little less this year compared to 2009 as most of the trees statewide are in an “off” year. This is significant because you can expect to see higher prices in the fall due to less product availability. But right now growing conditions are excellent and, with a little luck, the Pistachio nuts that are harvested in September will be large, plump and tasty, and we will have plenty of them!
April 22nd, 2010
Looks like things are shaping up for a really good harvest at San Luis Obispo farm in 2010. The trees are beginning to bud and the snow pack in the Sierras is bigger than normal. That means we will have plenty of water come Summer when we really need it. Pistachio trees are peculiar in that they have alternating years of small and large crop years. This year is an “on” year for our farm meaning that the crop should be very large.
Plenty of Water This Year
Even though our orchard is over thirty years old, the trees are still growing and are producing higher yields. With the good Winter/Spring conditions we’ve had, and the promise of plenty of water throughout the summer, I expect the orchard to produce its best yield ever! That means lots of beautiful, delicious Pistachio nuts for you to enjoy next fall!
February 23rd, 2010
If you’ve been following the weather out here in California you probably know that we’ve been having a cold, wet winter so far. This is incredibly good news for us farmers and everybody else as well. Because cold, wet weather means better crops, simple as that. Better, larger, less expensive produce in the Spring and Summer. And it’s no different with Pistachio nuts, even though we don’t harvest until September. Why does the weather have to be cold? It’s all about the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The snow pack in these mountains is the “storage tank” for all the water we will need to water the crops in the Spring and Summer months. If the storms that roll through are warm, even if we get a lot of rain, most of that will just run out to the ocean and be of marginal value. But if they are cold ones, like we have had so far this winter, the snow pack builds up in the Sierras and supplies us water all through the dry Summer months. The water table rises, the rivers are full and everybody is happy. Since we have had two or three years of relatively dry winters, or warm winter storms even when it did rain, the water table is down and crops have been going thirsty.
It’s going to take more than we have had so far to really get the lakes and reservoirs up to where they should be, but so far the snow pack in the Sierras is running ahead of normal and that’s great news. So keep your fingers crossed and hopefully we will have a record yield of delicious Pistachios for you to enjoy come the fall.
December 19th, 2009
It’s pretty quiet right now on the farm. We completed the 2009 harvest back in October and we won’t do too much until pruning in January, which is fine with me as the harvest is always a tremendously busy time. The pistachio nuts have to be shaken from the trees, loaded into trucks and taken to the processors where they are cleaned, have their hulls removed and super dried to seal in the flavor.
Shaking the Trees
This all happens within 24 hours. When you consider that this year’s harvest in California was over 350 million pounds, that’s a lot of activity. Actually, we had expected almost 450 million pounds, so it was a bit less than we thought it might be. San Luis Obispo Farm was right on target to what we expected, however. One theory is that there were quite a few undeveloped nuts on the trees down south. These nuts are selected out at the processor when they float instead of sinking and are skimmed off and discarded. We didn’t seem to have too many of these “floaters” so our crop was about what we thought it would be.
After every harvest I manage to fit in a fishing trip. This time I went to Alaska. Caught some really nice fish up there.
We will be pruning in a few weeks and I’ll let you know how that goes.