John and Kathy Boehm
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Winter is the time for pruning the walnut trees at Rusty Acres Ranch. In 1998, the trees were pruned in early December. Central Valley Grafting and Pruning, owned by Pete Upton of Sutter, California, does my pruning. Walnut trees are tall, so a machine that can get up high in the trees is required. Pete uses four "Tree Squirrel" pruning towers.

The engine, which is mounted between spread out set of wheels, runs a hydraulic pump. Everything is run by hydraulics. This includes the two drive wheels, which are operated by individual hydraulic orbital motors. The close together wheels are freely rotating trailing wheels. The lift is hydraulic and so is the cutter bar, which is a chain saw and bar on the end of the pole the operator is holding.

When they are done pruning, the branches that are strewn randomly on the orchard floor must be stacked in rows. My helper, Martin Weisner, is pictured below doing this task. The brush must be stacked cross ways, so that it will load properly onto the brush rake.

Above are the stacked rows, ready for pushing.

This is the brush rake, mounted on my John Deere 2630. I am the operator. The brush rake is a quite simple set of forks mounted on the three point hitch. The top link is a hydraulic cylinder so that I can tilt the rake up or down as needed. All pushing is done in reverse.

These pictures show the pushing operation. One tries to get the brush centered on the rake. Occasionally, if it is not centered or if you try to push too large of a pile, part of the pile will come off one side or the other. In that case, you just go back and push again, until you get it all at the end of the row.

The final operation is to burn all this brush. I'll let it dry out for a few weeks, then depending on the rain we receive this winter, will burn it sometime between January and March. After I cleared all the brush, I spread popcorn (elemental) sulfur as a fertilizer and soil amendment. Next task in January or February will be to spray herbicide down the tree rows and to mow the middles as the grass grows.

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