As I ate an almond from sophomore Jag Lally’s 160-acre almond farm, I questioned how it ended up in my mouth.
“First you’ve got to lift the ground with rippers and take out all the old roots,” Lally said. “We rip them every 25 years. But we occasionally rip out the old trees as well.”
“Depending on how big the tree is, you cut off the top of the tree first. Once you’ve ripped out the old roots, then you fumigate it.
“There’s a chemical business on the side for agriculture that helps with the fumigation. They spray the ground with chemicals that have nutrients for the soil. Then they cover it with a white tarp until January or February.”
The next step, according to Lally, is to set up the rows and dig holes for the trees from the nursery.
Lally’s parents, Kuldeep and Kulwinder Lally, own a 2-acre walnut farm in Yuba City and a 160-acre almond farm in Bakersville.
The Lallys are in a partnership with Jagjit’s uncle, Onkar Bisla. Bisla manages the planting, harvesting and selling of the nuts.
“My dad invested in him and bought the orchard. They have fifty-fifty shares,” Lally said.
Once harvested, the nuts go to a hauler, who cleans and weighs them.
“Usually you can sell them to the hauler and the hauler will send them to India or China,” Lally said.
However, most of the Lallys’ shipping and handling stays inside the family. For example, the hauler is Bisla’s cousin.
The Lallys produce 2,500 pounds per acre of almonds and sell them for about $3.20 a pound.
Lally lives in Yuba City but said he doesn’t visit the farm regularly.
However, he sometimes brings his family produce to school, especially for teachers Daniel Neukom and Patricia Fels, who love the Lally walnuts.
“They are the best I have ever eaten because they have no acidity and have a very rich smooth taste,” Neukom said.
Coming from someone who hates them, the walnuts were actually pretty darn good.