Processing Plant


Think of this machine as a big vacuum cleaner. We can adjust the suction to fit what we need to take out of the product. It is the first machine the nuts will go through in this building. This step is to remove any twigs, leaves, or epicarp that didn’t get washed off at the hulling plant. We don’t want to run unnecessary product through all the other machines.

Bin Dumper

A lot of equipment is fabricated here on the farm. This bin dumper was designed and built by George and Marianne’s son, Gordon Schweers. The wooden bin is put on the green frame by the forklift. The “dump” button is pushed and the green frame rotates and turns the wooden bin upside down. The nuts fall into the stainless steel bin which has a trap door. The forklift operator can then put the steel bin over the hopper of a machine to feed the nuts into the machine.

Needle Sorter

This barrel is lined with thousands of sharp needles. The in-shell pistachios are fed into the back of the turning barrel. As the nuts roll across the needles, the needles hook into the split of the shell. The pistachios that do not have a split shell have nothing for the needle to hook into and therefore roll on out the end of the barrel. The pistachios that are caught on a needle ride to the top of the barrel, where a brush cleans them off the needles and drops them into a chute which channels them into a waiting container in front of the needle sorter. This is the way Eagle Ranch separates the split shells from the pistachios that do not have split shells.

Nutmeat Color Sorter

This machine is state of the art technology. The SORTEX Z+ is an optical sorter which simultaneously identifies reject material by shape as well as color. This unique function dramatically increases productivity and efficiency. We are able to sort 3,000 to 4,000 lbs. per hour with this machine.

In-Shell Color Processing

The in-shell pistachio also goes through a color sorting process. In America, the consumer likes “pretty” food. Even though we don’t eat the shell, we still want it to be unblemished. This sorter will “see” stains on the shell and separate those nuts from the rest. Those pistachios that are separated out because of a blemish on the shell, will go to the Sheller to remove the shell, and be sold as a nutmeat. Those nuts that have been sorted out because of the shell not being split (from the needle sorter) will also be shelled and be sold as a nutmeat.

Hand Sorting

These ladies are our final quality control. The machines separate out 98% of anything that is below the standard we want to end up in our bags. The women are looking for the 2% the machines have missed. We call the conveyor a “waterfall” conveyor. The nuts ride the conveyor past the first lady’s inspection and fall off the end onto the second, lower conveyor belt. The nuts flip over as they drop, so the other side can be inspected. This way, both sides of the nuts are checked for defects.

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