All those warm days in September paid off for one of California's signature crops. The almonds rolled in – plump, dry and on time.

"We're having a great almond year – great from the standpoint that the weather's been very cooperative," said Dave Baker, director of member relations for almond cooperative Blue Diamond's 3,000-plus growers. "Overall, quality looks good, and harvest is right on target."

After pollination in late February and early March, almonds hang on the tree seven to eight months before harvest starts in late summer. By the end of October, this harvest will be complete.

"We're pretty much normal this harvest," Baker said. "We couldn't say that the last two years." Soggy springs and wet fall weather delayed the crop at both ends of the previous two seasons.

After the nuts are dried, hulling and shelling continues into January and February. That means there will be plenty of fresh almonds in stores and markets for holiday baking, gift-giving and everyday nibbling.

The one drawback of all that heat: The almonds lost some of their weight before harvest.

For more, see: Goin' nuts: Almond crop nears record