After the almonds are harvested and collected in bank-out wagons, they are transferred to our hulling and shelling facility. Stewart & Jasper provides hulling and shelling services featuring two complete hulling and shelling plants – parallel operations with excess capacity that enables faster and safer handling of crop deliveries – thus reducing the risk of loss in the field, shortening the time from delivery to inventory, and providing the most efficient throughput rates for the best quality output. This is particularly critical when you consider that all our other operations are year-round processes, while the huller/sheller must complete its work in just three short months. Despite the tight timeline, we never take our eye off our commitment to quality.
The first step in the hulling and shelling process is unloading the almonds at our pre-cleaner. The pre-cleaner removes any orchard debris such as rocks, sticks and other large foreign material from the almonds prior to them entering the huller.
Once inside the hulling facility, the almonds are conveyed across a variety of shakers and screening devices that will separate the hulls from the shelled almond. The hulls are removed from the building by way of large pneumatic conveying systems that transport them outside into pyramid-shaped hull piles formed by elevated augers. The hulls, which are rich in protein and fiber, are marketed to commodity feed users serving the dairy and other related industries.
After the hulls are removed, almonds enter the shelling process where hard-shell crackers use gentle shear-roll technology to remove the nut from the shell without damaging it. The nuts are now ready for sizing, processing, and packaging to meet the demanding specifications of our many fine almond buyers around the world.
Just like in growing our distinctive California almonds, throughout hulling and shelling, quality is always top of mind. This is especially important to us because we don’t just process our own almonds. In fact, 90% of the almonds we receive for hulling and shelling are from outside growers who trust us to handle their valuable almond crop.