As a farmer, Larry Haworth wears two hats. He is a dairyman and an almond farmer. He does not have any preference between the two. Both equally demand enough of his time.
It’s often said that it takes two to tango, but in his case, he dances on his own as far as taking care of those two responsibilities.
Well, he is alone when it comes to taking care of his 40-acre orchard. He can handle that, no problem.
Not so with the dairy. The Dutra Farms was started by his late grandfather Tony Dutra, and one of the largest farming operations around with more than 1,500 milking cows alone. With that size of a business operation, feeding those animals is just as gargantuan an operation. And that’s where another type of farming comes in — raising corn, alfalfa as well as spring and winter silage planted in hundreds if not thousands of acres.
The brunt of all that work and responsibility involved falls on the capable shoulders of the Haworth siblings — Larry, his younger brother Loren, and sisters Lisa Harris and Trina Navarro, as well as another close relative, Mary Dutra. The Haworth siblings’ parents — Linda and Lloyd — are both deceased.
Fortunately for Larry, any commuting logistics going back and forth between the family dairy on West Ripon Road, and his almond orchard on Almondwood Avenue is practically nil. It would be a quick sprint if he chooses to use only his leg power, but with someone whose time is always at a premium, the distance is merely a couple of minutes away with his truck, if that.
But as small as his orchard may be, the chores are just as challenging to a single owner like him. Especially during the blooming season in which he finds himself right now, and in late summer to early fall when the crops have to be harvested.
In late winter/early spring when the nut trees are budding and blooming, the biggest challenge is in making sure the flowers do not succumb to the vagaries of weather. These may include winds that could easily decimate trees felled down by upper two-digit wind gusts; rains that saturate and shred the delicate blossoms; and, freezing temperatures that kill the buds and whatever flowers have already opened. It’s this last natural enemy which has Larry and other almond growers worried and up on their toes the last three days.
“It’s not easy being (an almond farmer),” Larry said, but while he was smiling as he said that, his eyes could not hide the deep worry.
“With the 29-degree nights we’ve been having, frost protection right now is at the top of my mind,” he said as we walked down a row of almonds, a micro mister — also called sprinklers — installed on the ground between each tree.
For the last two nights —Sunday and Monday nights — he had the micro misters turned on so the buds and flowers don’t freeze.
Asked what are the toughest challenges facing a farmer like him, Larry was quick to respond.
“Mother Nature is what we worry about the most.”
That’s because you never know what kind of weather befalls your crops from one year to the next, he explained.
Larry Haworth acquired his almond orchard in 1995 when the property was sold by the Carlson family.
“I bought it because I wanted to have my own property,” was his simple explanation on why he bought the established orchard with an older and more modern newer house that came along with it.
He lives in the newer one-story sprawling house surrounded by vegetable gardens and fruit trees with a professionally designed walled-in garden, cozy sitting area and well-appointed outdoor kitchen in the spacious backyard.
He did desire to have his very own property, he said. But heavily on his mind when he made that decision were the words of his late grandfather, Tony Dutra, and father Lloyd Haworth. “My father and grandfather said that if I wanted to be part of Dutra Farms, I needed to be close to Dutra Farms.”
While Dutra Farms and his almond orchards keep him busy, Larry Haworth followed in his father’s footsteps and made his own contributions to society. He has been a board of director and advocate of as many nonprofit, agricultural, and philanthropic endeavors as he can remember. The Manteca Boys and Girls Club and NorCal Property Association, just to name a couple of them. His father, among other things, was on the South San Joaquin Irrigation District Board of Directors for many years.
“I made my own contributions. But it’s good to have others have a chance” to serve too, he said.
Larry Haworth graduated from Manteca High, but being a diabetic kept him from many campus activities. It was his very athletic brother Loren who excelled in all of those, he said with pride.