Heading into the August-September-October timeframe, almond handlers, hullers, and shellers are kept hopping at the height of their season and are probably glad they thought ahead about compliance with regulatory requirements for inspections.
Toward that end, the Almond Board of California has produced a Crop Readiness Operations Packet (CROP) for both new and veteran handlers to help them achieve compliance.
“The main purpose of the CROP effort is to help handlers comply with state and federal laws, preparing for upcoming inspections, via a pre-harvest checklist,” says Bryce Spycher, the Almond Board’s Marketing Order Services manager.
“We update this each year before harvest to help almond processors and handlers by listing the requirements needed to get ready for incoming harvest inspections. The Federal Marketing Order requires all almonds be inspected prior to processing through a sampling verification program the USDA has in place for when almond samples are drawn for the purpose of income inspection when there’s an inspector onsite.
“It involves a number of different things like a requirement that moisture meters used to determine almond moisture content need to be calibrated, before harvest, and anyone who conducts the almond sampling verification needs to be trained before they perform that activity,” he says.
This document has processors/handlers in mind, those who would be buying almonds from growers, helping them establish a baseline for the quality of the nuts coming in because some growers are paid based on the inspection results that determine edible versus inedible nut meat for human consumption.
A benefit to all
The CROP packet is of benefit to veterans as well as newcomers.
“As a new handler, it’s hard to know all that’s requirement before the harvest starts,” Spycher says. “Although we don’t typically see a lot in the way of change from year to year in requirements leading up to harvest, this is a good baseline document.
“For 2020, there’s not a lot in the way of change, but there is an emphasis on ongoing requirements for handlers to have their moisture meters calibrated to manufacturer specifications — and done no sooner than 60 days before their first receipt of harvest.”
It’s a bit like the old forewarned-is-forearmed philosophy because handlers don’t want to be sending their moisture inspection machines for calibration during the height of the season.
“A lot of almonds come in in a short period of time and this allows trained samplers to take the sample, class it, and deliver it to inspectors who will grade it,” he says. “If handlers didn’t meet the requirements of the verification program, a licensed inspector would have to conduct that sampling process, onsite, with the handler paying for the time and labor of the inspection agency, increasing costs and slowing down the process.”
Also included in the packet is an updated shipping point inspection directory for contact information for Northern, Central, and Southern district offices as well as a calibration guide for the various major moisture measurement device makers, a quick summary of how to get the units calibrated.
“You don’t want to have truckloads of incoming product at your gate with your meter still at the manufacturer’s plant someplace in the Midwest,” he says. “Planning ahead is always a good idea here rather than scrambling to get these things done and in place while you’re already receiving product.”
The 2020/21 CROP packet is available in the June issue of the Almond Board’s Weekly Handler enewsletter or via www.almonds.com/sites/default/files/2019CropReadinessOperationPacket.pdf.
Bryce Spycher is also available to answer questions about this year’s incoming inspection process at 209-343-3221 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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