Almond Nut Harvesting: How And When To Harvest Almonds

Pile Of Almond Nuts
harvest almond
(Image credit: fralo)

You may have planted almond trees in your backyard for their glorious flowers. Still, if fruit develops on your tree, you’ll want to think about harvesting it. Almond fruits are drupes, similar to cherries. Once the drupes mature, it’s time for harvest. The quality and quantity of your backyard almonds depends on using the correct techniques to harvest, process, and store the nuts. For more information about harvesting almond trees, read on.

Picking Almond Nuts

You probably think of almond fruit as nuts, but almond trees (Prunus dulcis) actually produce drupes. These drupes grow from the tree’s fertilized flowers and mature in autumn. The drupe has a leathery hull that surrounds it, giving it the look of a green peach. When the outer husk dries and splits, it’s time to start thinking about picking almond nuts. If you want to know when to harvest almonds, the drupe itself will tell you. When drupes are mature, they split open and, in time, fall from the tree. This usually happens during August or September. If you have squirrels, or even almond-eating birds, in your garden, you’ll want to keep your eye on the drupes and harvest them from the tree when they split. Otherwise, you can leave them on the tree as long as it does not rain. Don’t just look at the eye level almonds to tell if the drupes are mature. They ripen first at the top of the tree, then slowly work their way down.

How to Harvest Almond Trees

Start almond nut harvesting when 95 percent of the drupes on the tree have split. The first step in harvesting almond nuts is to gather the drupes that have already split and fallen. After that, spread a tarp beneath the tree. Start picking almond nuts from the branches you can reach on the tree. If you have trouble getting them off, quit picking almond nuts with your hands and use pruning shears to snip the stems just above the drupes. Drop all drupes onto the tarp. Almond nut harvesting continues with a long pole. Use it to knock the drupes from the higher branches onto the tarp. Harvesting almond trees’ drupes means getting those mature drupes off the tree and into your house or garage.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.