Almond harvest is a busy and satisfying time. Efforts of the year are brought to bear, and growers enjoy the fruits of their labor. But for neighbors and motorists, almond harvest can also bring dread, as dust from harvest settles over backyards, pools and cars, and can block drivers’ ability to see. The dust generated by harvest activities includes significant PM10 emissions and some PM2.5 emissions - both regulated and connected to air quality issues, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley.
A decade of dust research funded by Almond Board of California (ABC), partnerships with equipment manufacturers and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), has resulted in methods, resources, and incentives to help reduce the dust generated at harvest, and to keep the dust created inside the orchard and away from neighbors.
Everyone involved in the harvest of California almonds should work to reduce dust at harvest time. Growers should communicate to employees and custom harvesters their expectations for a harvest strategy that reduces dust while maintaining balance with harvest efficiency.