Okay, so the nuts are off the tree, now what? Where do they go? Do they go straight to the buyer? The answer is "no," they go to the dehydrator.
With all of the shadows, it was tough to get a picture of the nuts beneath this grating. This is a holding pen, for the freshly harvested nuts. These are our nuts.
The nuts leave the holding pen, and travel up the conveyor belt to the left, to be cleaned up.
As they go through this processor, twigs and leaves and hulls and debris are all removed from the nuts. Much of the process is automated, but there are stations where women still pull out debris and uglies by hand.
Once they've been cleaned as thoroughly as possible, they travel up this conveyor belt into the dehydrator. That's the big metal building on the right.
This is one of the fans that blows the hot dry air through the building. I'm guessing it's at least 10' in diameter, if not more.
This is Leslie, my tour guide, taking me behind the curtain.
And this is where the nuts are held, as their moisture content is taken down to 8%. Buyers don't like to pay for a lot of water weight. Who knew, other than walnut farmers/buyers? Not I, that's for sure. One of these bins hold about 8 tons of nuts when full.
There are a lot of bins in the dehydrator. I'm standing about 3/4 of the way to the other end of the building.
And these two bins hold our nuts.
It's not all of them, the nuts shown in the first picture in the holding bin still need to be processed. Once the nuts are dehydrated, they will truck up to Selma, to the buyer. Apparently he also has quite the operation, where they rate the nuts and shell them and do this that and the other thing with them. In the next week I should be heading up there for yet another tour. Stay tuned, as I'm sure to share it all with you.
New Year, What a start!
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