I have never planted a nut orchard or grove I guess they are called. At this stage of my life, I need to consider growing things that have a maturity date during my lifetime. Even though planting for someone else's lifetime has a lot of merit.
Well, I decided to take a stab at going through a lot of research to try and come up with an article that will at least get someone starting to think about growing nuts.
Most nut species grow more readily on loamy or even sandy soils than they do on heavy clay soils. They also prefer well-drained soils, but pecans can tolerate heavy bottom soils that flood occasionally. All species are unfavorably affected by shallow soils that have hardpan or rock layers in the upper 4 feet.
Nut trees prefer slightly acid soils, but walnuts also do well in neutral soils.
Site is an important factor in tree growth and hardiness. Most nut trees, even if they grow well, will have reduced crops on low sites where frost usually comes later in the spring and earlier in the fall. Excessively windy sites can both shorten and distort top growth and may result in premature shaking off of many nut fruits. Windbreaks, like tall trees or buildings that shelter a tree from the prevailing winds, tend to increase tree hardiness and productivity. Towns generally provide a warmer microclimate, and it may be possible to grow a species or variety in town that would fail in rural areas in the same county.
Nut trees (except filberts) will become large trees, requiring considerable space. Some growers prefer to plant trees close together to obtain more early production and then remove the "filler" trees as the planting becomes crowded. Close spacing may pose problems if the grower doesn't remove the filler trees early enough to allow the permanent trees to develop a desirable structure. Filler trees should be removed before the branches of adjoining trees meet. The following list suggests the spacing for permanent trees (filler trees may be added temporarily):
Chestnut (Chinese), 40 ft. X 50 ft. (Castanea mollisima) Zones 5-9: Fast growing to height of 60'. Blight resistant. Produces nuts early to mid-September of medium to large size, with excellent sweet quality. NOTE: Several sources rate for Zone 4 planting.)
Filbert, 15 ft. X 15 ft. (Filberts can be grown successfully over a wide area of eastern North America as long as some important details are followed. They do not compete well with sod. They also need extra moisture to keep from being stressed. In addition to irrigation, a thick mulch will help conserve moisture and keep the root zone cool. Finally, filberts need soil that is slightly acid. A soil pH of 5.5 to 5.7 is about right. If soil pH is too high, the filbert cannot pick up certain elements such as manganese and phosphorous. Filberts are sensitive to herbicides. In the late 1800s northwestern US farmers began growing filberts as an agricultural crop and today Oregon is America's top producer of hazelnuts.)
Trazels, 15 ft. x 15 ft. (A trazel is a cross between the Turkish tree hazel and the European hazel. The nuts are of the same size and quality as commercially grown hazelnuts)
Filazel, 15 ft. x 15 ft. (Zones 4-8: A cross between Beaked Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta) and Filbert (Corylus avellana) A best all around selection. Produces heavy crop of nuts early, in 3-5 years, large in size, of good flavor. This is truly a marketable variety.)
Hican, 50 ft. X 50 ft. (Pee Wee Hican- Named after a short Texan who discovered this treasure growing in the wild and propagated it commercially. The nuts are quite large and are easy to grow. Zones 4-9. also the Simpson Hican- These large nuts are much easier to shell out than Hickory, and the flavor is a pleasant blend of Pecan and Hickory. Zone 4-9) Hicans are natural hybrids between pecan and hickory that fall into categories based on whether the hickory parent was a shagbark or a shellbark. In general, shellbark X pecan produces a larger nut than the shagbark hybrids, but the shagbark may be heavier producers. Unless self-pollinating, several different varieties should be planted together for good nut production. Trees reach 50-70' in height with a round and spreading crown. Plant trees on 40-50' spacing, first production in 6-10 yrs. Hican trees bear handsome foliage, and deserve planting for their ornamental qualities. The nuts retain the hickory flavor considered by most to be the finest nut flavor.
Hickory, 50 it. X 50 ft. ( Carya ovata) Zones 4-8: The best known of the hickories. Growing to 80'. Patience is needed as it may take 20 years before nut production starts!)
Pecan, 50 ft. X 50 ft. (Carya illinoensis) Zones 4-9: " NEW 10th Anniversary Special " Some sources rate hardiness to zone 3. Produces nuts smaller than southern varieties with same excellent flavor. Grows 70 to 90' tall. Two needed for proper pollination. )
An interesting note about Pecans The pecan tree, like most nut trees, has female and male blossoms, and pollen from the male blossoms, catkins, needs to be transported to the female blossoms, staminate.
Pollen needs to migrate to female flowers within a given window for the fertilization process to be effective. Cool spring temperatures slow down the manufacture of pollen so female blossoms are not pollinated.
Walnut, black, 50 ft. X 50 ft. ((Juglans nigra) Zones 3-8: Grows to height of 80-100', tall and stately. Most valuable lumber tree in U.S. and produces one of the most desired nuts for eating or baking in cookies, cakes and candies.)
Walnut (Persian, Hardy, English, and Carpathian), 35 ft. X 35 ft.( The Persian, English, or Carpathian Walnut is grown worldwide. California produces 95 percent of the walnuts grown in the United States. Walnuts require a deep well-drained soil and favor neutral to alkaline pH. While somewhat slow growing at first, they will begin bearing in 3-6 years. Walnuts are an excellent multiple use nut tree, yielding high quality nuts, valuable wood (Carpathian Walnut is known as Circassian Walnut in the trade), good shade (especially heartnuts), and minimum pest problems or pruning requirements. Of special interest are grafted walnut trees of known parentage.)
Establishing Nut Trees
Nut trees may be established by planting seed, by planting trees, or by grafting onto established seedlings. Planting seed where the tree is desired eliminates the problem of successfully transplanting a tree. But because most nut species are not genetically uniform, variations in tree and nut characteristics are likely. An improved variety can later be grafted onto a seedling tree. Improved varieties can be grafted onto young wild seedling trees in areas where such seedlings are present.
Starting from seed
Nut seeds have natural seed dormancy that must be overcome before they will germinate. The simplest method of breaking dormancy is planting the seed in the fall. However, the planted nut, however, must be protected from mice and other wildlife. Plant the seed about 2 inches deep. Cut the bottom out of an ordinary "tin" can and cut a 1-inch hole in the top. Push the can into the soil over the nut so that the top is about level with the ground and the hole in the top is directly over the nut. Mulch with straw but remove the mulch in early spring. Tin cans usually will rust out and do not need to be removed aluminum cans must be removed before they damage the young tree by girdling or confinement.
For spring planting, seed dormancy can be broken by placing the nuts in damp (not soggy) peat moss or sawdust in a closed plastic bag and keeping them in the refrigerator for 6 to 12 weeks or until planting time. Plant the seeds 2 to 3 inches deep early in the spring.
Planting young trees
Young nut trees (except filberts) have a long tap root with very little branching. After transplanting, the development of fibrous roots is slow. These root characteristics mean that nut trees are among the most difficult to transplant successfully. Extra care is required.
Late winter or early spring is the best time for planting. Trees should be planted immediately after they are received from the nursery.
Dig a hole that will accommodate the tap root without bending. Prune off any broken or damaged parts of roots. Place the tree in the hole at the same depth at which it was growing in the nursery. Fill in around the roots with loose soil, tamp firmly, then settle the soil around the roots with a bucket or 2 of water. Finish filling the hole with loose soil and settle it with more water. Then prepare a small catch basin around the trunk for future watering. Protect the trunk from sun damage by wrapping with waterproof tree wrapping paper or burlap.
Do not put fertilizer in the hole or on the soil surface after planting. Start fertilizer applications 1 year after transplanting.
During the first growing season the young tree will need watering every 10 to 14 days, depending on rainfall and temperature. The slowness to develop new roots puts a strain on the young tree. Partial shade during hot weather will help the tree survive the critical first summer. At the first sign of drooping or wilting of the new shoots, provide partial shade if watering does not correct the wilting.
Heavy pruning of the top is essential for survival. After planting the young tree, cut off about half of the top to balance the root loss in transplanting make sure, however, that several good buds remain.
Nut trees growing in deep, fertile soil may produce satisfactory crops without fertilizing in other soil, annual fertilizing is needed. Apply fertilizer to the soil surface under the spread of the branches, keeping it at least 1 foot away from the trunk. Apply in early spring before growth starts.
Nitrogen is the element needed in greatest quantity. Lesser amounts of phosphorus and potassium are required. A 20-10-10 or similar analysis mixed fertilizer high in nitrogen is suggested. (If 20-10-10 or similar analysis mixed fertilizer is not readily available, substitute 1 pound of 12-12-12 plus 1/3 pound of 33-percent ammonium nitrate for each pound of 20-10-10 suggested.) For young trees up to 6 inches in trunk diameter, apply 20-10-10 at the rate of 1 pound per inch of trunk diameter at breast height. The diameter of a trunk is approximately one-third of the circumference. For example, apply 6 pounds of 20-10-10 to a tree that is 6 inches in diameter (18 inches around the trunk) at breast height. For trees from 7 to 12 inches in diameter, apply 2 pounds of 20-10-10 per inch of diameter. For large trees more than 12 inches in diameter, apply 3 pounds of 20-10-10 per inch of diameter.
These are general suggestions. On infertile soils it may be helpful to increase the quantity of fertilizer by 25 percent. On fertile soils, the quantity of fertilizer may be reduced by 25 percent or more, depending upon the vigor of the tree.
The symptoms on Chinese chestnuts are cankered areas on the bark of a branch or the trunk. New cankers show sunken or swollen areas of bark later, the bark may split and the foliage may wilt.
Good cultural practices and resistant varieties are the best means of control. Keep the trees growing with normal vigor and prune out cankered branches.
Scab is a major disease on several southern pecan varieties, but northern pecan varieties, hickories, and hicans are usually not severely attacked.
Symptoms of scab are round or irregular olive-brown to black spots on leaves and young twigs and small, dark, circular spots on the husks of the plants (see image).
For home plantings, control with good sanitation. Rake up and burn or haul away all hickory, pecan, and hican leaves, shucks, and dead twigs. Where scab, leaf blotch, leaf scorch, spot anthracnose, anthracnose, or other fungus leaf spots are serious, apply 4 to 6 sprays 10 to 14 days apart. Start when the buds begin to open. Suggested fungicides include benomyl, maneb, mancozeb, and dodine. Follow label directions.
Anthracnose is the most serious disease of black walnuts, although Persian walnuts are resistant to it. Anthracnose attacks leaves, nuts, and new shoots. Wet weather during late spring and early summer increases the severity of the infection. Severe infection causes leaves to drop prematurely, sometimes partially defoliating the trees by midsummer (see image).
Starting in May or June, small, dark spots appear on the leaves. These spots enlarge and may merge to form dead areas. Tiny, sunken, dark spots develop on the husks of the nuts. Husk infection early in the summer may cause the nuts to drop prematurely or to be improperly filled. Defoliation of the trees may also result in improperly filled nuts with dark kernels.
Sanitation and using the more resistant varieties are suggested for control. Each spring, rake up and burn or haul away all walnut leaves. The varieties in the suggested list show resistance to anthracnose.
Where anthracnose, yellow leaf blotch, and other fungus leaf spots and blights are serious, start spraying when the leaves begin to unfold and continue at 2-week intervals 3 or 4 times. Suggested fungicides include benomyl, dodine, maneb, and mancozeb.
Persian walnuts are more susceptible than black walnuts to this bacterial disease. Blight attacks leaves, bark, shoots, and nuts. Infections on new shoots do not grow into older wood, so trees are not killed, but the nuts can be severely damaged and fail to fill properly. Nuts may be infected anytime during the growing season. First symptoms are small, water soaked spots on the nuts, leaves, or shoots. These spots enlarge and become dark and sunken.
Use fixed copper (50 to 55 percent copper) at the rate of 4 pounds per 100 gallons of water (3 level tablespoons per gallon). Spray 3 times: at the beginning and completion of flowering and at nut set.
Walnut bunch disease
Bunch disease affects black walnuts, pecans, and hickories and is especially serious on butternuts, Japanese heartnuts, and hybrids of butternuts and Japanese heartnuts. The causative organism and the method of transmission are not known, but some scientists suspect that a virus or a mycoplasma is involved.
Lateral (side) buds have a tendency to grow rather than remain dormant. This produces a "witch's broom" type of growth on the infected branches, characterized by bushy, closely spaced lateral shoots with undersized leaves. Upright, suckerlike shoots form on the trunks and main branches.
Infected branches frequently start growth earlier than normal in the spring and grow longer into the fall. This late fall growth retards normal cold-hardiness development, and the tips of infected branches are winterkilled. Branches infected with bunch disease do not produce normal crops of nuts.
For control, cut out the infected branches, making the cut well below the infected area. If the disease continues to spread into other branches, remove the entire tree.
Controlling Nut Predators
Squirrels and birds are a greater deterrent to successful nut production than plant diseases and insects. In some locations, tree squirrels are numerous enough to take most of the filbert, pecan, hickory, and Persian walnuts before the grower can harvest them at the right stage of maturity. Birds, particularly jays and crows, will harvest filberts and Persian walnuts. Blackbirds and starlings sometimes destroy green nuts of Persian walnuts. Ground squirrels will climb the bushes to harvest filberts and can take pecans and other thin-shelled nuts from the ground. Chestnuts, at least, are protected by their burs until the nuts fall out.
It is well to look at the local squirrel and bird populations and size up their possible effects before putting much time and effort into planting susceptible nut tree species. Chestnuts, hickories, and black walnuts will usually be safer than other kinds.
Losses to tree squirrels can be reduced by using a smooth metal shield placed around the trunk to prevent squirrels from climbing the trunk. This will work if the nut tree is isolated so that squirrels cannot jump from other trees, buildings, or wires to the nut tree, and if the lowest branches are too high for the squirrels to jump to them from the ground. The shield should be 24 inches wide and placed on the trunk at breast height.
Hastening the falling of mature nuts by shaking limbs and frequently picking up fallen mature nuts will reduce losses.
Controlling Insects and Diseases
Many insect and disease pests attacking nut trees can be controlled by spray programs, but the selection of pesticides and timing of sprays must be tailored for the type of tree and the specific pests. Detailed pest control information is beyond the scope of this circular.
Powerful equipment is needed to spray large trees adequately. For the noncommercial grower with a limited number of trees, spraying probably is not practical, except for young trees.
Occasionally, foliage diseases or heavy infestations of insects threaten to defoliate the trees. If the trees are young, spraying is suggested. For aphids, Malathion at the rate recommended on the label. For worms and caterpillars, use carbaryl (Sevin) or Bacillus thuringensis at the rate recommended on the label.
For fungus diseases of the foliage, such as pecan scab and walnut anthracnose, use benomyl, maneb, or mancozeb at the rates recommended on the label. Maneb, mancozeb, benomyl, carbaryl, and Malathion are compatible and can be mixed together in any combination.
Good cultural and sanitation practices will help reduce losses from some insects and diseases. Keep trees growing with moderate vigor. In the fall or early spring, rake up and burn or haul away old leaves, hulls, unharvested nuts, and dead twigs. During the growing season, pick up and burn or haul away any nuts that fall prematurely--they usually have worms in them.
Pruning young trees (except filberts)
Pruning young trees helps them develop a desirable shape and branch structure. As nut trees become larger, pruning is usually limited to removing dead or damaged branches. With a minimal amount of pruning, nut trees usually develop a strong and attractive structure if they have adequate space.
Following heavy cutting-back at planting, several shoots may compete for the position of the new leader or main trunk. When the new shoots are 8 to 12 inches long, select the strongest and straightest 1 for the leader and pinch out the growing tips of the competing ones. In late winter or early spring each year, shorten the lower branches. If any of the lower branches grow vigorously during the growing season, pinch out the growing point. As the tree grows taller, the lower branches can be cut off flush with the trunk remove a few of these lower branches each year.
Leaving the lower branches on the young tree aids its overall growth by increasing its food-manufacturing ability and providing shade for the trunk during the growing season. Limiting the growth of the lower branches by cutting back and pinching out the tips of vigorous shoots keeps them small and reduces the size of the pruning wound when they are removed later.
Eventually all branches arising from the trunk within 6 to 8 feet of the ground should be removed. This facilitates mowing and other cultural practices.
The pruning practices described here for transplanted trees are also suggested for trees started from seed and for varieties grafted onto seedling trees.
Filberts, which are large multi-stemmed shrubs, should be pruned like lilacs, mock orange, and other large shrubs. Thin out the smaller and weaker shoots each spring, cutting them off at ground level. Remove any damaged, diseased, or weak older stems, cutting them off near the ground level. A shrub with 5 to 7 main stems is suggested. Winkler is usually more bush-like than the hybrid filberts.
Harvesting and Handling Black Walnuts
Light-colored black walnut kernels have a milder flavor than dark ones. If you prefer light-colored kernels, hull the nuts as soon as they drop from the tree allowing the hulls to partially decompose before hulling causes a discoloration of the kernels.
The hulls are thick and fleshy at maturity. They can be mashed and removed by hand, but mechanical devices such as a corn sheller make the job easier.
After hulling, wash the nuts thoroughly and spread out away from sunlight to dry for 2 to 3 weeks. Then store in a cool, dry place.
Kernels that have been tempered before the shell is cracked are easier to remove. Soak the nuts in water for 1 to 2 hours, drain, then keep in a closed container for 10 to 12 hours. The kernels will absorb enough moisture to become tough, yet will remain loose in the shell.
Harvesting and Handling Hickory nuts
Hickory nuts are edible, but take considerable effort to produce significant quantities. Shells should readily fall off when the kernels are ready. Crack nuts open and extract the kernel inside. To grow a hickory, remove husks and store nuts in plastic bags at about 41 degrees for 3 months, or plant them right away and heavily mulch the soil. Plant 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches deep.
Harvesting and Handling Walnuts
Walnuts should be harvested as they fall from the tree. Hull right away for light-colored kernels, which have a milder flavor than darker kernels caused by allowing the hull to remain on and decompose. The thick, fleshy hulls can be removed by hand or mechanical devices such as corn shellers make it easier. After hulling, wash thoroughly and spread them out away from sunlight for 2 to 3 weeks of drying. Store in a cool, dry place.
Cracking walnuts to get the kernels can be made easier by soaking in water for 1 to 2 hours, draining, and storing in a closed container for 10 to 12 hours. The kernel will absorb enough moisture to become tough yet will remain loose in the shell.
Harvesting and Handling Horse Chestnuts
Horse chestnuts, members of the buckeye family, can be poisonous to livestock and potentially humans. Avoid eating or chewing on them. Often mistaken for chestnuts, the leaves of horse chestnut have 7 to 9 wedge-shaped leaflets arranged like spokes of a wheel. The nuts have thorny husks covering them. By comparison, chestnuts have large single leaves and husks that are very spiny. Chestnut blight has wiped out the chestnut tree, but resistant varieties may allow this tree to someday be common again.
Pecans are harvested very much like walnuts, except they generally are not bothered by the walnut husk fly. When pecans start dropping, it's time to harvest.
General information about harvesting nuts
All of the nuts, except for chestnuts have a hard shell that will break or shatter under pressure. Roller crackers adapted from grain mills may be the best way for the small processor to handle the cracking process. It is important to size the nuts first, especially for hazelnuts, otherwise kernels will be split on larger nuts and smaller nuts will go right through uncracked. Once the nuts are sized through screens, all of one size can be cracked at once. Before cracking, make sure the nuts are quite dry. They should be below 10% moisture level. If they have been properly dried in a dryer and have been stored in a dry location, then the nuts should be ready for cracking.. This type of cracker works best for hazelnuts, Persian walnuts and black walnuts.
Further refinements will be needed to crack heartnuts. Heartnuts need to be precisely sized and then fed in a single stream on edge into slightly curved cracking rollers. Heartnuts crack best when the edges are struck. Then they open like a locket, releasing the kernel in one or two pieces.
Aspirators (similar to dust collectors) and blowers can be used to separate the nut meats from the shell. An easy home made blower can be made from a furnace blower. By pouring the nuts and shell mixture into the stream of air, the shell being heavier will blow away, while the heavier nut meats will fall straight down into a bin. This action may need to be repeated two or three times to remove the majority of the shell. This works well with hazelnuts, Persian walnuts and to a lesser degree with heart nuts.
When the nuts are fed into the updraft of air in an aspirator, the compact nut meats fall, while the lighter shell fragments go up in the air stream. The amount of separation can be very finely tuned by dampening the amount of lift.
A final hand sort is necessary in both systems, to remove all shell fragments and spoiled nut meats. The meats then can be bagged and sealed with your own attractive label.
Most nuts will have good quality for up to a year. Before summer arrives, it is a good idea to store surplus nuts in a cooler or a freezer. The fresh taste will be maintained. For those of you trying to sell nuts, remember if the crop is larger than you would be able to retail, then it would be wise to either wholesale the crop or develop value added products from your nuts.
Nut shells continue to develop, making one think there is a crop on the tree. When nuts start falling and the owner starts picking them up, he discovers the empty nuts.
Here are some of my favorite nut recipes.
1/2 cup walnut pieces
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and lightly toast in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Roughly chop.
Place the butter, walnuts, shallots, garlic, and salt in a medium bowl, and mix well with a rubber spatula. Spoon down the middle of an 8-inch piece of parchment paper and roll into a log, about 1-inch in diameter. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.
Hickory Nut Cake
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of milk
one-half cup of butter
3 cups of flour
2 cups of Hickory nuts
2 teaspoons of baking powder
lemon or almond flavoring
Beat sugar and butter to cream, then add eggs, well beaten add milk mix baking powder and flour and add beat well, then add nuts sprinkled with flour. Cook in moderate oven.
2 cups of sugar
3/4 cup of cold water
1/2 pound of blanched almonds *
drops of vanilla or bitter almonds (to taste)
Boil sugar and cold water until it thickens. Set away to cool for half and hour, and then add a half pound of blanched almonds broken into small pieces, and a few drops of either vanilla or bitter almonds, according to taste. Stir with a wooden spoon until it creams place on a marble slab or a large dish and knead a few minutes as you would bread then mold into balls with your hands.
To Blanch almonds: shell them, immerse in boiling water and let stand five minutes then dip in cold water and the skins can be easily removed.
There are so many ways to use nuts in cooking. We put pistachios or pinenuts in our salads. Slivered almonds on our fresh string beans. Cashews in our stir fries. Walnuts in our brownies. Macadamia nuts in our home made ice cream. Coconut in our home made sherbet and sorbet. We could go on and on and we are sure you have your own favorite recipes using nuts..
Nut Oils that I use in my cooking
Its distinctively nutty flavor and fragrance make it obvious that this oil is extracted from walnut meats. Walnut oil is expensive and can be found in some supermarkets and most gourmet food stores. A blander, less expensive variety can be found in health-food stores. Store walnut oil in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months. To prevent rancidity, refrigeration is best. Walnut oil is frequently used in salad dressings, often combined with less flavorful oils. It can also be used in sauces, main dishes and baked goods, and for sauting. The French term for walnut oil is huile de noix.
An oil obtained by pressing sweet almonds. French almond oil, huile d'amande , is very expensive and has the delicate flavor and aroma of lightly toasted almonds. The U.S. variety is much milder and doesn't compare either in flavor or in price. Almond oil can be found in specialty gourmet markets and many supermarkets.
A fragrant, full-flavored oil pressed from hazelnuts and tasting like the roasted nut. Most hazelnut oil is imported from France and is therefore expensive. It can be purchased in cans or bottles in gourmet markets and many supermarkets. Hazelnut oil can be stored in a cool (under 65F) place for up to 3 months. To prevent rancidity, it's safer to store it in the refrigerator. Because it's so strong-flavored, hazelnut oil is generally combined with lighter oils. It can be used in dressings, to flavor sauces and main dishes and in baked goods.
A unique oil that brings out the delicious flavor of the pistachio nut. Pure pistachio oil lends a unique dimension to many dishes. It goes especially well with salads that contain citrus. Use it on seafood and as part of a marinade. This is an excellent oil for use in many Middle Eastern dishes.
Just email me with any questions or if you are in the area, stop in and say hello. Please remember to
"Tread the Earth Lightly" and in the meantime may your day be filled with
Peace, Light and Love,
Arlene W. Correll
She is the author of many books which can be seen at http://stores.lulu.com/kate1031