Friday, May 29, 2009

Patterson's Blossom Hill Orchard

We may no longer be the true apricot capital of the world... but before we grew tract homes, we grew multitudes upon multitudes of the tart orange fruit that helped give us the title that we base Patterson's biggest party around... the Apricot Fiesta.

We here at the Irrigator have been anticipating it as one of our busiest times of the year. Taking photos and writing stories in preparation. One of my pre-fiesta duties each year, is to photograph the many different processes that the apricot goes through each year here in Patterson.

Dave Santos, from the Santos-Lucich Blossom Hill farms off of Rogers Rd., has been extremely kind enough to allow me to follow along those who work to process the fruit from start to finish, and while we don't have the chance to publish all these photos in the newspaper or the Fiesta Issue, I'm glad that I get to share them here.

Above, Modesto's Jose Castillo carefully pours a bucket of Poppy Apricots into a bin that will be transported to the Lucich-Santos farms packing shed.
A Poppy Apricot tree, full of apricots in an orchard off of Zacharias rd. just west of Patterson.
Pickers carefully pour the apricots into bins that will be carted back to the packing shed for processing.
Absolutely beautiful, I love this assignment every year. I can't wait to walk through those orchards and smell the distinctive smell of the ripening apricots... the smell I and many others grew up with walking to or from our destinations around town. I used to love walking down 9th street on a warm summer evening, passing Mike Mahaffey's orchards and saving an apricot or two that may have fallen off the tree or rolled into the street. While those days are definitely over, I still hope I can buy some apricots that aren't from Turkey or Argentina from the Walgreens that will be going on his property.
3:00, quitting time in the orchard, but back at the packing shed, things are just about ready to get under way.
Here, a tractor is backing up the filled bins of Poppy Apricots at the packing shed, while stacks of organic Apriums (75% apricot, 25% plum) are first in line to go through the packing shed conveyors. According to Dave Santos, the organics have to be processed first because they have to go through the clean system, before any other non-organic fruits touch the conveyors.

The stacks of organic apriums are ready and waiting to go on the first day of operations at the Lucich-Santos farms on Thursday May 7th.

These two supervisors from the shed are so nice, they remember me every year I go back there, and I remember them.
Everything's just about prepped and ready.
Everybody's in their proper place and the only thing left to do is to flip the switch.

And here it goes.

The main switches and operations of the shed are controlled from this central elevated point, and the whole process can be stopped from here if it needs to be.
Here go the first organic apriums, poured into the system where they are rinsed and sent to the first conveyor.
Here's that first main line and the workers that begin hand sorting them based on quality.
Such a serious face from a seriously hard worker.
Sorting through the first organic apriums on the conveyor.

Some of them go onto these red plastic trays.
There's always some sort of glitch when starting things up again.
But, the kinks are worked out and things are up and rolling again.
After the fruit is sorted, some end up pouring into these boxes.
Gotta keep the boxes ready to be fed into the machine.
Some boxes are filled with the apriums on the sheet of plastic.
While the loose ones in the boxes are weighed out, then sent along to be shipped away somewhere.
Rolling along.
There's Dave Santos making sure that everything's running smoothly.
It's the end of the line for the organic apriums. They've been sorted, weighed, boxed, stacked on pallets and ready to be sent to their new owners.


Anonymous said...

So cool! As a youth, I worked cutting apricots and helping my dad in his small orchard. But I never have seen the whole process like this. Beautiful pictures of the workers and the fruit.

Debbie said...

Excellent photos as always, Elias!

Maria Tsiorvas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elias Funez said...

You might want to check with the Burchell Nursery out of Oakdale about the Poppy Apricot Tree, they supply alot of the central valley farmers with their fruit and nut trees.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the info sorry it took over a year for the answer!!! great pics btw

Anonymous said...

can you please delete ( its maria ts...) im deleting my blogger account thats why. If you can that would be great! thanks!