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Almond Harvest

September and October are the months of the wine harvest and the cosecha of algarrobas and figs. This is also the season for the harvesting of almendras (almonds; ametlles in Catalan). Many Mallorca pagesos (farmers) do not actually bother any more with beating the almonds off their trees with long sticks. The wholesale merchants simply do not pay enough to make it worth their while. The farmer is paid all of 43 cent per kilogramme for the almond in its hard shell but without the outer hull; again, not enough money when considering the land, the maintenance of the field and the tree, the tractor, petrol, transport and the actual harvest labour. Some younger, more modern farmers have invested in an almond combine harvester attachment to their tractor and offer a semi-automated machine assisted harvest to the pagesos of their local area. This contraption can gather the harvest from about 200 almond trees in a 10-hour shift, when a couple of pairs of hands can manage no more than 20 trees in a day, if that. I believe that the gain of a day’s harvest with the winged tarpaulin attachment to the tractor is split down the middle between farmer and harvester, but other quotas are possible depending on the chutzpah of the two partners involved.

The photo was taken in Mallorca, Baleares, Spain, by my Dutch friend, Han B. Janssens.

Dank u wel.

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October 2011


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