In August of 1937, Jim Hamilton was born to one of the first families in the San Joaquin Valley to farm the fertile land. No one knew he would grow up to become one of the top leaders in the walnut and pecan industries.
Jim started farming his family’s 50 acres of prunes and walnuts with his father after high school and in time built his own walnut shaker and bought his first 5-ton walnut dehydrator. During the fall of 1964, Hamilton Ranches, Inc. had its first introduction into the agriculture world.
Jim, along with the help of his wife and a few loyal neighbors, ran the dehydrator and harvested the crops. To continue the growth of his ranch, Jim and a school friend began a successful harvesting business in 1968 leading Hamilton Ranches to new heights. In 1974, he built a new hulling line with a walnut dehydrator that was on the cutting edge of the industry. He also built a custom plant that ran faster, smoother, and ran more volume than any other dehydrator in the state. After designing and building a second successful hulling line, Hamilton Ranches led the industry in dehydrators and continued to grow. The current drying capacity is 750 tons per day.
Over the years Hamilton Ranches has overcome adversity and has always come out on top. In 2016 Hamilton Ranches had its biggest year ever with their walnuts.
Hamilton Ranches started dehydrating pecans in 1985 and built a new pecan huller that was the first of its kind. Jim’s hullers worked so well he put a patent on them and they are efficient enough to run all of the pecans grown in California today.
Jim has always been involved in the industry and was voted onto the board of directors at Diamond Walnut in Stockton, California in 1981. He served on the board for twenty-one years and was also the Chairman for the Board of Directors of Sequoia Walnut Sheller’s in Visalia, California for seventeen years.