What is in this article?:
- Commercial almond production in California began more than 50 years ago.
- Industry changes helped Stewart and Jasper grow as a company.
Stewart and Jasper handles about 2 percent of the state's two billion-pound almond crop.
Second and third-generation almond farmers, Jason Jasper, left, and his father Jim, operate Stewart and Jasper Orchards near Newman, Calif.
Two percent may not seem much in many instances, but when it’s 2 percent of two billion it suddenly becomes something significant.
Jim Jasper believes he may have found his “sweet spot.” The estimated 40 million pounds of almonds he handles each year represents 2 percent of the statewide almond harvest. Regardless of the statewide almond yield, Jasper has maintained that ratio for many years through his hulling, shelling, and marketing activities.
It’s a figure he’s happy with.
Jasper began to learn about farming as a child. In 1948, his father Lee Jasper partnered with Romain Stewart to plant a little-known crop to California farmers. At the time, Lee Jasper was also in the poultry industry and commercial almond production was relatively unheard of in California.
Not anymore. Today, almond trees are as commonplace as gridlock on a Los Angeles freeway as growers have capitalized on factors that built the almond industry from nothing to a multi-billion dollar industry.
By the mid-1960s, Jim Jasper was working his way into the business his father and Stewart built. In 1967, Jasper became a partner in the business alongside his father.
California’s almond acreage remained flat at roughly 100,000 bearing acres through the 1950s and 1960s. By 1970, the number was began to rapidly climb but sthose who could separate the edible nut from the shell was low.
Jasper graduated college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1967 with a degree in farm management. When he returned to the family farming operation, his father was out of the poultry business and partnered with Stewart in California’s fledgling almond industry.
By the mid-1970s, Jasper needed an almond huller “because we couldn’t find anybody who would hull our almonds.” At the time almond acreage in his area was still quite low – just him and a neighbor with about 200 acres each. The huller would preparedthe nuts for in-shell shipment to a buyer.
With the growing need to further process almonds and separate the shells from the nut, Jasper said the advent of sheer roll technology allowed Stewart and Jasper to expand into alomond shelling.