Farm Pro serves as the local buyer for the Hammons Product Company, based in Stockton. Once again around 300,000 pounds of walnuts are expected to be brought in by area residents who will collect nuts.
"I think we'll see quite a bit," said Dean Myers, a Farm Pro employee. "We've had a lot of calls. I've seen barrels full of nuts already. That's a good sign."
Farm Pro will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday and will accept walnuts each business day. Myers said the harvest usually lasts a month.
"We're paying $12 a hundred pounds this year," Myers said. "Last year it started at $9. The price usually starts higher, depending on the numbers."
Hammons rehabilitated the shelling machine used at Farm Pro over the summer, returning the unit with new chains at the beginning of August. Myers expects the harvest of shelled nuts to be comparable to past years. What will be different is the quantity of leftover hulls.
"The nuts are a lot smaller this year, due to the dry weather," Myers said. "The shells didn't get as thick. That should make shelling them easier."
Farm Pro has about three years of hulls piled behind its building. Myers said the hulls are available free for composting, and several truckloads have been taken away this summer. The acidity in the shells takes about five years to break down, but Myers said they make good dirt in the end.
Many times during the harvest Farm Pro will have vehicles loaded with walnuts lined up across the lot and down to Highway 37. Myers said Farm Pro will have to add an employee who is dedicated to handling walnut purchases while three others work the store.
Last year, the walnut season started slowly, picking up in the final weeks. Myers said the recent rains may have helped loosen the nuts from the trees. He expects business will be brisk on Saturday.