Hester Orchards has a rich family tradition with deep roots California orchard agriculture. It started with the purchase of our home property by my father John E. Hester in 1942. With the help of his father, J.E. Hester, the property was purchased from California Packing Corporation, the predecessor to Del Monte Foods.
The early history of the ranch was with prune orchards, walnut orchards, cotton production and grazing beef cattle.
My father, John Hester, provided valuable contributions to the industry early on. He partnered with the University of California Extension Service, providing his ranch as a research resource to the benefit of all.
Our orchard production rapidly evolved to stone fruit (plums, nectarines, peaches) and walnuts.
During the early years irrigation was done with flood-style watering, with water traveling down the lanes between rows. John was a surveyor for the Forest Service and was familiar with survey techniques. He taught me how to map a field and set grade stakes so we could level for a new orchard. We would set the orchard to grade, ½ tenth per 100 ft. falling in the direction the irrigation water would travel.
As they say: “Necessity is the Father of Invention”. It seems that we had a lot of necessities, so we solved our own issues. In the 1960’s my Dad built a relatively sophisticated shop where we not only repaired equipment, but also fabricated improved (or totally new) designs to solve specific problems.
Walnut harvesting and dehydrating became an integral part of our operation at that time and has continued to be so today. We started doing our own harvesting and dehydrating along with whatever repairs were needed. We would run ½ of a day in the field harvesting and the afternoon at the dehydrator running the morning harvest.
Soon we expanded to one crew in the field and one at the dehydrator. Times have changed and along with those changes the demand on a facility and services like ours have changed. We now have two crews in the field harvesting and are capable of covering 35 acres per crew per day in different locations or combined to service 70 acres per day. Our Dehydrator has 480 Tons of drying capability. This is done with two shifts in order to return the trailers to the harvester or owner in a timely manner.
Today we continue what my father started, and offer our expertise as a package of services useful to anyone who wants their farm to be profitable for generations to come.