New Green Acquisitions and Programs

Over the course of the last decade, there has been a large global shift of equipment and infrastructure that is powered by green energy. Whether that is conversions to solar power, more efficient tractors using environmentally friendlier engines, conversions to CNG gas or battery driven vehicles and LED lighting. For the benefit of our members and the greater valley community, Central California Almond Growers Association (CCAGA) has embraced any program that makes economic sense and shows a positive return on investment. These new technologies are important to our stakeholders and are important for the benefit of our environment. Fortunately, organizations like Western Agricultural Processors Association and others have taken a leadership role in working with State and Federal agencies to get funding to help offset the cost of purchasing these new kinds of technologically advanced equipment. Below are some of the many examples of the green technologies and sustainable practices that have been implemented by CCAGA in the recent past.

  • Solar Sites - CCAGA has installed two solar arrays at our Kerman location that collectively generate 2.3 megawatts of electricity. We annually utilize 4 megawatts of power to run our shelling operations, offices and maintenance shops at this location. The solar power generated by our photovoltaic system offsets 58% of the Associations power utilization at Kerman.
  • Electric Gators - Using funding from the California Air Resources Board, the Association replaced all of our gas fired electric gators with new electric powered units. We have found that electric units perform well in our environment, as they have fewer moving parts over what are found in combustion engines. Therefore they incur less failure.
  • New Wheel-Loader - Over the years CCAGA has actively been involved in a tractor replacement program using funds allocated through the California Air Resources Board. Depending on the size of the unit, the program can offset 50% - 65% of the replacement cost of diesel-powered tractors. Using the air districts tractor replacement program, we have replaced 5 zero, or lower tier units with 5 wheel-loaders with Tier III technology or newer Tier IV engine technology.
  • New Stockpile Belt Loaders - Using the same air district tractor replacement program as the Wheel-loaders, CCAGA has now replaced 12 stockpile belt-loaders with similar incentives. With a total of 12 stockpile belt loaders in our fleet, 10 are using Tier III engines and 2 have been replaced with Tier IV engine technology. A thirteenth stockpile belt loader with a Tier IV engine will be added to the fleet later this summer.
  • Lighting - CCAGA has replaced all our lighting at both our Kerman and Sanger sites with LED lighting. There are significant incentives in place to make these changes, LED lighting not only increases the luminosity in our work areas but reduces our energy costs.
  • CASP Programs - Management has partnered with the Almond Board of California to highlight the importance of the California Almond Sustainable Program. There has been a shift of demand from buyers and consumers to know that their products are produced with sustainable practices. CCAGA is proud to showcase and highlight these efforts with our members who continue to do their part in achieving certain sustainability goals.
Kerman Plant #1 - Modernization

In the Spring of 2018, Management conceived of a vision for the modernization of Kerman Plant #1. On August 6, 2020, this vision was realized when the completed modernized facility began shelling almonds. This new state of the art huller/sheller was a management triumph from start to finish. From the planning, delivery of equipment, installation, and start-up it all went exceedingly well. This new renovation replaced a rather historic older sheller. The former Kerman Plant #1 cracked its first nut in 1983 and it was the first sheller to have this capability behind the huller. Prior to this major modification, hullers would ship inshell almonds elsewhere to be cracked out or shelled. This major innovation revolutionized the almond industry and the membership enjoyed 37 successful shelling seasons of plant operation. However, in recent years the facility had shown its age and was not able to operate at the levels of performance needed to service our existing membership’s future almond production. It was clear in 2018 that a new processor was needed. One which would aid our other three shellers to make sure we process our members almond production on a timely basis and with the exceptional quality that our members expect.

The modernized plant did an exceptional job in increasing our efficiency last season. We were hindered in our start up with some gremlins in August and September, but by October the plant was really humming along. We saw the seasons productivity increase from 8,902 lbs. per hour to 11,951 lbs. per hour. This was a 34.25% increase in overall efficiency. The effect of delays due to equipment adjustments and smoke from last season’s wildfires should hopefully be behind us and we hope to achieve even higher levels of productivity in the future.

The new plant also contains an inshell line, which complements the hulling line for inshell that we have in Kerman Plant #3. Inshell has become an increasing part of our overall handle and it was important to expand our processing capacity to assure the timely delivery of this product into the marketplace.

The facility also has a hash clean up line upon which all the Association’s hash product is delivered to in order improve the salability of this important revenue generator. Hash is composed of bits and pieces of almond kernels, split almonds and a great deal of foreign material. Our vision was to pull out as much extraneous matter as we can and have a higher purity of splits, bits and pieces. This allows for a better value that we can achieve for this important by-product.

The facility also has a hash clean up line upon which all the Association’s hash product is delivered to in order improve the salability of this important revenue generator. Hash is composed of bits and pieces of almond kernels, split almonds and a great deal of foreign material. Our vision was to pull out as much extraneous matter as we can and have a higher purity of splits, bits and pieces. This allows for a better value that we can achieve for this important by-product.

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