Dust from California’s almond harvest can escape the confines of the orchard, becoming a nuisance for neighbors and posing the risk of reduced visibility on area roads. Aiming to keep more of that dust inside the orchard can help improve Central Valley air quality and support relationships with neighbors.
Some dust is inevitable during almond harvest, but everyone who works in the orchard during harvest can play a role in reducing dust by utilizing a variety of key, research-based practices.
To help almond growers continue to be good neighbors, Almond Board of California (ABC) has developed tools and materials based on nearly a decade of research that show how dust can be reduced before, during and after harvest.
The ABC recently held a workshop on dust management at the Nickels Soil Lab in Arbuckle, CA.
The most recent of these tools is a video series that demonstrates, step-by-step, the tips to keep dust inside the orchard. The new Managing Harvest Dust educational videos round out ABC’s collection of helpful dust management resources, including the Harvest Dust Tool Kit and the Managing Dust at Harvest technical guides.
The video series goes into detail about each stage of harvest and what actions can be taken at each stage to reduce harvest dust.
There are four videos that make up the Managing Harvest Dust video series: three shorter videos outline the range of harvest activities, including pre-harvest, sweeping, and pick-up, and one full-length video covering harvest from start to finish. All videos have a common theme to consider your neighbors and consider your soil.
The pre-harvest video explains ways to prepare the orchard before harvest to reduce dust. Tips include preparing a clean orchard floor, filling in holes and ruts where nuts can get stuck and planning ahead to communicate expectations about harvest and dust with employees and if applicable, custom harvesters.
The second video reviews the sweeping stage of harvest. It discusses being strategic about your route, sweeper head height adjustment, fine-tuning settings like blower spout and fan adjustments, and avoiding extra passes.
Lastly, video three takes the viewer through an overview of practices that can reduce dust during pick-up. The video explores how going slow can have a big impact on dust reduction, adjusting pick-up machine head height, and slowing fans down.
The video series is also available in Spanish.
In conjunction with the videos, ABC is also offering Harvest Dust Tool Kits and Managing Dust at Harvest technical guides to all California almond growers.
The technical guides, available in English and Spanish, outline the specific, research-based practices that are proven to reduce harvest dust that are included in the new videos. These durable guides can serve as a quick, in-field reference for growers, employees and custom harvesters.
The Harvest Dust Tool Kit provides additional resources for growers to use during harvest. The tool kit includes window clings and a quick guide to keep the top four most effective dust reduction practices top of mind. It also includes a key chain that doubles as a measuring tool for adjusting harvest equipment.
Using the steps outlined in these materials and the new videos can help us all breathe easier during harvest.