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Growing & Processing


Growing & ProcessingGrowing

Each step in the process from propagation, to harvest, to processing, and finally to market is handled with care and attention. There are over 4,600 walnut growers, a large majority being family farms, many of which have been in the walnut business for several generations. Walnut production takes commitment and patience, and orchards are dedicated only to walnut production. After a walnut sapling is planted, it takes five to seven years for it to grow into an adult tree suitable for harvesting. Although many varieties of walnuts are grown in California, six account for over 75 percent of total production: Hartley, Chandler, Serr, Vina, Franquette and Howard. Harvesting begins in late August when the drying green hulls start to split allowing the Inshell walnuts to be removed and continues until late November. First the orchard floor is swept clean. Mechanical shakers vigorously shake each tree and thousands of walnuts fall to the ground. The walnuts are carefully swept into windrows to allow mechanical harvesters to pick them up for cleaning.


The outer green hull is removed by a huller and the nut is mechanically dehydrated (air dried) to optimum 8% moisture level. This prevents deterioration of the nut and protects its quality during storage. Walnuts are stored until needed for cracking. California walnuts are protected from contamination because of the nutís double envelope of hull and shell while on the tree.






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