President’s Report – A Tidal Wave of Almonds
I recently returned from the Almond Board conference in Sacramento. One of the hot topics is predicting the future growth of the California almond industry. As you are aware, and as expressed by many at the conference, we are experiencing a tremendous expansion of new almond plantings of high yielding root stock that very well could lift the production of almonds in California to 3 billion pounds by 2022. What does this mean to your Association? Well, we are 5.354% of the State volume. Using a simple mathematical calculation, we can illustrate the potential impact of such tremendous growth.
3 billion lbs. of almonds X 5.354% of State Volume = 160,620,000 lbs.
You can rightfully ask; will we be ready? Yes, we will! Your Board of Directors and Management have been discussing this subject for several years and it has been a top priority. Using our annual surveys, we have been able to forecast future growth in order to make sure we are well prepared for a tidal wave of almonds that will be upon us in just a few short years. To that end we have formulated a plan that will help us reach a new level of efficiency.
Since last winter staff has been meeting with purveyors of various types of almond shelling equipment. Our plan is to modify and modernize Kerman Plant #1. We have developed plans, completed drawings and worked with Fresno County Planning Commission in order to begin this important project. K-1 revolutionized the almond industry when it first came on line in the summer of 1984. It was the first inline shelling plant after the pre-cleaner to come into operation. This was the idea and dream of former Manager Bob Hines who worked with Ernest Boesch of Ripon Manufacturing Company to design and develop the equipment needed to shell after the almonds were hulled within the same facility. Prior to its construction almonds were hulled and delivered to another facility not attached to the Huller where they were shelled. K-1 is a very good plant that shells out a good quality product. However, it is showing its age and is suffering significant downtime with equipment fatigue and electrical issues.
The vision is to build a new modernized sheller that will have increased deck spacing to process larger volumes of field run almonds more efficiently. Our hope is to nearly double the productivity of the sheller from 8,800 lbs. of meats to 15,000 lbs. in a 24-hour period. This is a similar achievement to what we were able to do when we modified Kerman Plant #2 in 2015.
When completed, the modernized shelling plant will also accommodate an additional inshell line and a hash clean-up line. An additional inshell line will help take pressure off Kerman Plant #3 where inshell has dominated over 79% of its run time last season. The Hash clean up line will help us to receive additional revenue for our Hash by-product if we can clean it to a higher edible meat percentage.
The completion date of this project is slated for the start of the 2020 harvest season. We are very excited about this challenge and opportunity, and we see it as a necessary project that is needed in order to hull and shell your almond production on a timely basis and to deliver the highest quality of service that you expect.
As always, we thank you for your patronage and wish you a very blessed Christmas season with your loved ones. Please call me personally if you ever have any concerns or questions.