The Hi-Tech Farmer

Nut farming has changed radically in the past 70 years with the implementation of technology. In the 1940’s and 50’s a small farm of about 20 acres of walnuts used to be worked by about 15 people for about 2 months just to complete harvest. Crews of workers would climb into trees while using rubber mallets to knock nuts loose. These nuts would have their husks peeled off by hand before being placed into sacks. Husking by hand is a very tedious task not only because of how tightly the husks can stick to a walnut’s shell but also from the stains secreted by the husk that marks anything it comes in contact with. The walnuts are then taken to be dried. Back in the old days, a farmer would put the walnuts in chicken wire cages to be dried by the heat of the sun. After drying, the walnuts would be placed into 50 pound sacks for shipment. The manual labor was usually done by the farmer’s family to keep the cost of labor low. In today’s day and age of technology however, a farmer can harvest 20 acres of walnuts from start to finish in 1-2 days. This is because of new technology available to farmers. A farmer can now efficiently dry 5 tons of walnuts in 18-24 hours depending on the variety of walnut. Workers no longer have to spend laborious days climbing and knocking trees, a machine called a shaker can knock most all the nuts out of a tree in under 30 seconds. Instead of crews of workers rushing to clear a field of debris and sticks before walnuts could be picked up, there are now machines called conditioners that leave nothing but nut in clean rows before a machine called a harvester picks the nuts up. Rather than tediously husking walnuts by hand, there is now a machine that removes the husks from walnuts with ease, speed, and efficiency before being sent through an electronic sorter that sorts through nuts separating and removing the good from the bad faster and more efficiently than a traditional sorting team of 4-6 people. Today’s farmer now also ships out 20-25 ton semi-truck trailers to distributors for sale. The life of a farmer has greatly improved due to technological advances in agricultural equipment. Who would’ve thought that a walnut farm could be so hi-tech?

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