The Nuttery : Volume 20 Number 4 (2001)

In this Issue...

Nominations Committee Report

Normally, the past-chair of ECSONG chairs the nominations committee. However, this year Ted Cormier is not available, so our past-past-chair, Len Collett, agreed to take on the task.

Hank Jones and Vera Hrebaka wished, for health and personal reasons, to retire at the last AGM. However, no one in ECSONG felt able to replace them, so they agreed to stay on pro-tem. Given the year's preparation, we now have strong candidates for the positions Hank and Vera held so capably.

The committee presents four nominations for your consideration at the AGM:
Sandy Graham, President
John Adams, Vice-president
Jim Ronson, Secretary,
Art Read, Treasurer.

Sandy has been the coordinator of our FRP nut grove for many years, John Adams is currently a Councillor and has been a stalwart supporter of the Dolman Ridge groves and others, Jim Ronson has played a major role in the preservation of the Lavant shagbarks, and Art Read has been our Treasurer for many years. All of these members have demonstrated a commitment to ECSONG and to nut growing. All have experience of our organization and members. The committee considers that, together, they will form a strong, effective board to guide us in the future.

The committee hopes to have nominations for the two optional Councillor positions at the AGM. Any member of ECSONG may nominate any other member for any board position at the AGM. Each member attending the AGM is entitled to a vote on any contested position. In order to nominate, be nominated, or to vote, you must be a current member (2002). You will be able to bring your membership up to date at the meeting.

We invite your participation at the AGM.

Rob Saunders

Rob Saunders was involved with ECSONG only for 3 years. Yet, ECSONGers converged from all over our area to attend his memorial gathering in Chesterville on 8 February 2002.

When we arrived, we found a hall full of people from Chesterville and the surrounding area. Every one, it seems, knew Rob as a contributor to a different aspect of community life: as husband, father, respected teacher, instigator of Terry Fox runs and innumerable other fund raising events that combine community with pride in contributing ... even as a beer drinker! And, as a vital, energetic force for our Oak Valley Nut Grove, both as a direct contributor and as one who drew in so many of his community to contribute as well. In particular, as grade 5 teacher at South Mountain public school, he had brought his class to Oak Valley several times to plant seedlings, and had inspired them to plant many nut trees around their school.

The South Nation Conservation Authority, which owns the Oak Valley site, is building an endowment fund to provide for its long-term maintenance. ECSONG members who knew Rob are invited to make a donation in his memory to South Nation Conservation, 15 Union Street, PO Box 69, Berwick, Ontario, K0C 1GO, marked, "for the maintenance of the Oak Valley Plantation".

A Seedling Transplant Weekend

For many years, our nut groves have held spring field days in mid May to early June. However, the recent evening out of local summer and winter temperatures has resulted in our nut trees breaking dormancy earlier than in the past - in 2001, early the first week of May. With that in mind, the Oak Valley and Dolman Ridge groves have scheduled a joint Seedling Transplant Weekend, the 27th and 28th of April.

On Saturday 27 April, Oak Valley is the center of attention - some two hundred seedlings from George Truscott's nursery will be dug up. About a hundred of these, and a few from the Dolman Ridge nursery, will be planted out then and there about the Oak Valley site. The other hundred will come to Ottawa, to be planted out on the Dolman Ridge on the following day, Sunday 28 April, along with the walnut seedlings planted on the ridge two years ago.

So, we both welcome all who can wield a shovel, and take part in the core of ECSONG's activity, the planting of nut trees. Keep the weekend free!

Progress with the Lavant Shagbarks

On 27 February 2002, ECSONG (Jim Ronson, George Truscott, John Sankey, Hank Jones and Vera Hrebaka) had a meeting in Kemptville with Rob MacGregor, District Manager of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and his key staff, Travis Hossack, General Manager of Mazinaw-Lanark Forest Inc. (MLFI, the company which has the licence from the MNR for timber management of Crown land in the area), and Barbara Boysen, Coordinator of the MNR's Forest Gene Conservation Association (FGCA).

We discussed several options for conservation of the trees:

The MNR will not sell the land. However, both the MNR and MLFI committed themselves to the preservation of the shagbark hickory genome represented on the site. The current agreement is that this will be done at the 20-year planning level of the MNR Management Plan. This option does not preclude future designation under any of the other categories, and has the support of the FGCA. A steering committee, led by ECSONG's Jim Ronson, is now in place to determine the best way of achieving that protection.

Plans are underway to continue the ECSONG documentation of the site, and to determine the extent of the genetic and ecological uniqueness of the trees at the site. If you would like to join us, call Jim at 613-264-1937

Dog Days and Diamonds: Recent Acquisitions at the FRP
Sandy Graham

I like to poke around nurseries, especially in August when the hordes have gone to the cottage taking their impatiens and petunias with them. In August, I can amble up and down the rows of parched plants seeking the gems overlooked in the mad spring dash.

So it was this past August. I found myself reeling from the heat and drought of August in Ontario after a month of damp and drizzle in Scotland. I crossed the Kars Bridge to Green Acres Nursery on the River Road, hoping to find some late colour - green would do - to fill out my borders of dead perennials. And there it was in the back corner: a strong, tall (4 m) unmistakable oak. But the leaves were long and willow-like and not lobed (neither round nor pointy). I seized the label: "Quercus macrocarpa", it read, "Bur oak". "Nonsense", I cried, "this is no bur oak". I knew at once I had found my gem: a genuine Quercus imbricaria, a shingle oak. I had seen such trees in Toronto and I knew there was a hedge of them at the Experimental Farm. Long, slender, graceful leaves that turn a rich, warm brown when the weather turns cold and grey.

Of course, I snapped it up at once - a bargain, I hasten to add - and took it to the Fillmore R. Park Nut Grove where I fashioned a comfortable home for it in the rock hard clay and watered it with five pails of water carried up from the fetid river. It stands there still, waving its Quercus macrocarpa tag in the winter winds.

As it happened, the shingle oak was only the first of several new trees to join the Grove last fall. In October, the RVCA delivered six trees I had requested in the spring: 3 horse chestnuts, 2 white oaks, and a shagbark hickory. I had asked for the horse chestnuts to enlarge our Aesculus collection. The grove now has 4 A. hippocastanum, 2 A. glabra, 2 A. octandra and 3 mystery Aesculus that have yet to be identified. I hope to add one or two of the exotic red-flowered Aesculus, such as A. X carnea. The white oaks are very tiny and have yet to be moved to their permanent posts but I had almost given up hope of finding any. They resent root disturbance and are almost unknown in the nursery trade. (I have seen bur oaks masquerading as white oak as well!)

This spring I plan to remove most of the old hedge of diseased hazels (unless they behave themselves) and begin planning a new demonstration hazel patch where we can compare varieties. I will also need help keeping the encroaching woods at bay, mulching and feeding and repairing the trees and planting whatever new surprises I can acquire. Later in the summer I would like to schedule a pruning seminar. Many of the trees are engaging in destructive competition since they were planted quite closely in the expectation that one or more would eventually be removed. We may not want to remove them but some clean-up is definitely in order.

I encourage you to join me on our Spring Field Day, if only to gaze in wonder at my shingle oak. (If it dies, I shall be highly embarrassed.)

A Black Walnut Industry in Eastern Ontario
Neil Thomas

One of the main issues we will need to tackle if we are to be successful in fostering a nut industry in Eastern Ontario is nut quality. A large part of this relates to kernel percentage, though other aspects such as crackability are also important. While we know that we have quite a lot of black walnut in the region, we have not yet quantified the range in kernel percentage in these trees. At Lostwithiel Farm we are embarking on a long term project (hopefully with OMAFRA funding) to develop a dual-purpose (nut & timber) approach to black walnut production. However, key to our success will be tapping the regional germ plasm for superior nut quality trees with certain other charac- teristics such as late bud break and the ability to produce and fill nuts every year.

We are requesting ECSONG members to support a survey of black walnut throughout the region. Very simply this would just be recording the location of trees and letting us know where they are. A few trees are already recorded in the ECSONG Inventree, late summer it would be very useful if you could assess the year's nut crop in terms of numbers (lots, just a few) and size of nut without husk (large, medium, small). In the next issue we'll come up with a scale that will give everyone a common basis of measurement, and perhaps add some other criteria relating to tree health, etc.. We welcome dialogue on what criteria are important.

One of the big questions in nut production is whether to go with grafted or direct seeded material (the latter would be described as a half-sib approach - we know the mother tree but the paternal line in each case would be unknown). There are many issues here, some of which relate to high cost of grafted material and the risks in its use in a cold climate. A nut emphasis alone would almost certainly suggest grafted material, in order to obtain harvests almost immediately. However, we believe that the broader value of trees to the environment, and some of the benefits that they can bring when incorporated in an agricultural landscape, are lost in the high-intensity orchard model. Hence our focus on the dual-purpose, less intensive, direct-seeded approach. Here we accept slow onset of fruiting over time as a trade off against lower establishment costs, greater genetic diversity in our plantation, and a tree better able to yield a higher-value timber product in the future. If you are interested in reading more about this, and especially the rationale for our application to OMAFRA for funding, you can find more information at Keep an eye on this site, as we will regularly update information as it comes out of our research.

Coming back to kernel percentages, US mid-West producers are hoping to achieve 40% kernel. Many identified lines have 35%, and these are available as grafted stock. The wild population of black walnut throughout Eastern N America is said to average as low as 10%. However, the problems of establishing a black walnut orchard with grafted lines is well demonstrated by Bill Hanson's recent article, Commercial Black Walnut Orchard in Iowa (Ben's Black Walnuts), published on the NNGA website. Frankly, this is not a route we wish to follow - we'd spend all our time out with the sprayer. Of course, we will not escape some of this, but the management approach should aim to minimize the need for chemical controls, otherwise we are losing the very ecosystem values we are espousing. In our on-farm trials we will include some known superior lines of mid-West origin, but we will work mainly with the half-sib seeded approach.

Any questions can be directed to me at We very much hope ECSONG members will help us find and collect seed from the region's superior trees, and so contribute towards what we all wish for: a thriving regional nut-production industry. Lostwithiel Farm is located in Leeds County, 5 miles from the 1000 Islands Bridge. Any ECSONGers interested in more active participation in the on-farm work would be very welcome (the volume of work will grow over the coming years), though we do not wish to compete with the efforts already going into the very important nut groves that ECSONG currently supports.

The Forrest Arboretum
Bill Forrest

I've been involved with entomology most of my professional life, working for Agriculture Canada as a technician, but one of my goals has always been to create my own tree farm and arboretum.

Back in 1962, I acquired 130 acres in the Beechgrove area (South Onslow Township, Pontiac County) of western Quebec, roughly between Gatineau Park and the Ottawa River. Within 5 years I added another 60 acres to total 190 acres in all.

The land was originally cleared in the mid 1880's, and bought by the Mohr family in the 1890's. The property still has an active cemetery on it in their name. Their original one- room log house stood until the big snows of 1970, which finally collapsed it. About 50% of the land had been cultivated in hay, oats, etc., or was rough pasture.

The soil is shoreline Champlain Sea - fine sand over clay, stone free, mixed drainage. The site is about 100' in altitude above and 2 miles north of the river, exposed on the south side, and definitely drier and colder than next to the river. Several knowledgeable plant experts have told me that, at the limit of hardiness of trees, survival is best on a protected northern exposure, so the trees don't break dormancy before the last severe frost. My experience seems to bear that out - I've had my share of failures.

Over the years, with the exception of about 10 acres set aside as an arboretum, I have reforested all fields with plantations of various pines and spruces for sawlog and pulp production. The balance of the farm, being natural bush, has over 30 native tree and shrub species inhabiting a number of deep gullies and poorly drained areas.

The earliest planting in the arboretum of introduced species was in 1968, and of the nut groups in 1975. To date, I have introduced White Oak and Bear Oak to join the local Bur Oak and Red Oak.

In the Buckeye group there are Yellow and Ohio - all young - and horse chestnut. The horse chestnuts are of downtown Ottawa parentage, where they grow quite well, but when transplanted to Beechgrove as 2 year olds, they grew only 1/2" a year. When I retransplanted one back to Ottawa, it resumed normal growth, an indication of how much climate can vary within a few miles. (I have had the same experience with Western Red Cedar - in town there is no winter dieback, but at Beechgrove they only survive to the top of snow cover.)

A Tillsonburg Chinese Chestnut has for 20 years been dying back to ground level each winter but resprouting each spring, yet three 4-year old American Chestnut (Dolman Ridge seed) are doing well.

Two English hazels of 20-year vintage are also present. Unfortunately the catkins winter kill, hence no nuts are set. The local beaked hazel, and several young filberts recently acquired from ECSONG, complete this group.

I have a few nut pines, including a Siberian approximately 12' high and several much younger Korean.

Shagbark Hickory, purchased as seedlings from Keith Sommers' nursery at Tillsonburg Ont., are now producing seed and a number of younger trees from nuts harvested and haphazardly planted by local squirrels are evident. A Butternut, from seed collected at the Central Experimental Farm, is now producing and so far seems disease free.

I have Black Walnuts from 3 to 20 years of age, Northern Pecan (one 8' high), Fioka and Carson Buartnut, Japanese Heartnut and Japanese soft-shell Walnut. A Carpathian Walnut was killed to ground level 8 years ago, has resprouted but has insect problems now. None of these are yet producing nuts.

Many other species, both coniferous and deciduous, have been introduced to the arboretum, either as gifts, purchases, collected as seedlings, or as seeds in the field.

Another goal has been to collect a specimen seedling from each province and territory in Canada. To date, 9 provinces and 1 territory are accounted for - Newfoundland, NWT and Nunavut to go.

It's been an ongoing process of learning through trial and error and swapping ideas - a hobby that has provided many hours of contentment and much pleasure, as all we like- minded know.

Sudden Oak Death

"Sudden Oak Death" was first recognised in North America in 1995, but only identified last year. It is caused by a brown algae called Phytophthera ramorum, related to the organism that caused the Irish potato famine in the 1800's. The disease has killed tens of thousands of California black, coast live and tan oaks, as well as some non-nut species. Several eastern oaks, red oak in particular, are susceptible to it.

In an attempt to limit the spread of the disease, Canada has banned shipments of containerized nursery plants from California, and of many nut products, including immature walnuts. The USA is not yet restricting interstate nursery shipments, but is actively studying the ecology of the algae. It is at present limited to rainforest environments, but may be capable of spreading to other areas.

Another reason to encourage the growth of a local nut industry!

Thanks to Peter Satterly for spotting this. For further info, see:
California Oak Mortality Task Force
North Coast Native Nursery

Nut Growing Ontario Style
Hank Jones

Our parent SONG has published an excellent book on nut growing for warmer areas of Ontario. This area includes Eastern Ontario along the St. Lawrence River, as well as the 'deep south'. The following is an excerpt (with some adjustments) from this work, entitled 'Nut Growing Ontario Style'. Ed J.H. Gordon. Society of Ontario Nut Growers, 1993. 174pp. This excerpt includes just some of the information about just one kind of nut, the Black Walnut. The book has a wealth of information about many kinds of nuts for Ontario.

Black walnut (Juglans nigra) is a high value hardwood. It grows in native stands south of a line from Orillia to Peterborough and through Montreal along the St. Lawrence Valley. Isolated trees are growing in Edmonton, Winnipeg and the Ottawa River Valley. Good seed from thrifty trees is often free for the gathering. Nuts can be harvested for some income while timber production is anticipated. (Selections sought after have large kernels, thin shells and mild flavour). Under warm conditions black walnut selections graft readily at or above meter height. Grass can be harvested or pastured under black walnuts due to good light penetration and beneficial shade. Walnuts raise the pH of the soil. Real estate values can be increased by growing black walnut trees on odd spots around a farm.

Limiting factors in growing black walnut:

Germination of black walnuts requires either fall planting or moist stratification through winter. Harvest walnuts from tall, healthy trees which grow in the region of the permanent planting. Crack several nuts to check filling and kernel size. Very large nuts can produce grafting stock in one season for indoor bench grafting. Hulling nuts is unnecessary unless nuts are for eating. Nuts for eating are gathered every few days, hulled, washed and dried. The first nuts to fall are often blank. If nuts are allowed to lay on the ground and get soaked, the pellicle covering the kernel will stain dark and the kernel takes on a harsher flavour. Dry nuts by spreading on newspaper in a dehumidified room for a week or hang in wire baskets in airy dry condition until the kernels are palatable. Discard hulls and wash water with care because juglone, the inky fluid in hulls and roots, is toxic to strawberries, tomatoes, pines, apples and earthworms.

Black walnuts for planting can be stored or planted in the hull. Hulls improve the soil. Stored in a pile on a earth floor, kept moist, and allowed to freeze and thaw through the winter, the hulls are all that is required for stratification. Rodent protection (cats or wire) is often necessary. To fall plant, lay the nut on side; stem end horizontal. Cover with 4 cm. earth, 2 cm sawdust and enough earth to hold the sawdust in place. Where mice and squirrels are a problem delay fall planting as long as possible while baiting, trapping and removing habitat. To spring plant, plant the same as for fall except stratified nuts will have split open and care must be taken not to shear apart the two halves of the nut. Unstratified nuts must be soaked for a week or longer before planting. Mark the rows well because black walnuts held dry over the winter often require a year in the ground to germinate. Just prior to seedling emergence, spray a contact systemic herbicide and an over-the-top selective herbicide (Roundup plus Simazine, or equals) to kill growing and germinating grass and weeds. If the planting is small, hand weeding while weeds are small is appropriate, but not for sod. Keep the sawdust from drying out until most of the seedlings appear. Crows and especially squirrels will dig up the growing nuts long after seedlings emerge. Baiting is a deterrent. Agway and Co-op stores sell an effective orchard bait. The mulch should have worn to 2.5 cm (1 in) because deeper mulches can host pathogens which girdle emerging seedlings.

Simazine is an effective and long lasting herbicide, commonly used on nut seed plantings. On unworked loamy ground Simazine stays within the top 5 cm. of soil. When it is used on unworked soil, most of the common nuts, except filberts, display rapid growth and high tolerance. Working the soil deep, as in transplanting, allows Simazine to wash deep and cause injury, though not to walnuts. To be most effective Simazine, which is taken up by the roots of plants, has to go on early. There is about a month's delay between application and control. Deep rooted weeds are seldom affected by Simazine. Also, it can be washed over the ground, carried by run-off, to do damage in neighbouring susceptible rows.

Choosing the site for a black walnut planting should be step one in a grower's plan. The planting site should be a hilltop, hillside or stream bank location with a 1.5 metre deep soil, minimum. A well chosen site has good water and air drainage. Surprise frosts on still nights are then unlikely because cold air will flow downhill and be replaced with warmer air. At a frost pocket, which might be the flat below a hill or a clearing in a forest, late leafing walnuts, a lot of corrective pruning, and close spacing must be anticipated. If the soil is acid and not rich enough for good plant cover, it should be worked on for one or more seasons to improve it. Poor soil aeration and drainage must be improved by ditching or drain tile.

Planting walnuts mixed with pines is highly beneficial to the walnuts. The pines give wind protection to the walnuts while forcing them to grow tall for the sun, producing good log conformation. Try to find sites where walnuts are already growing. Start looking where walnuts are seen from the road. A search of the nearby bush can yield walnut trees which have been naturally seeded. Releasing a stand of walnut seedlings will be well worth the effort ...

Nut Trees for Sale!

It's time to order nut trees for this spring's planting! So, as a reminder, here are our member businesses who can supply them:

Buckthorn Meadows Tree Farm, 3311 Klondike Rd. W., North Gower ON K0A 2T0. Kurt specializes in hardy caliper oak and nut trees grown locally from local seeds. Kurt Wasner 613-489-0265

A.M. Tree Farm, 1135 Kenaston St., Ottawa ON K1B 3P1. Nut Pines. Alex Mucha 613-745-4723; 819-647-3321

Cory Lake Nursery, Box 1000, Chalk River ON K0J 1J0. Red oak, black walnut and butternut seedlings grown in zone 4b. Sherry Funnell 613-589-9909

La pépinière Lafeuillée, 55, chemin Lafeuillée, St-Charles-Borromée (Québec) J6E 7Y8. 27 varieties of walnut, hickory, pecan, chestnut and oak seedlings. Bernard Contré 450-759-5458

Winter Gathering 2002 Report
Hank Jones

Our Winter Gathering 2002, Saturday January 19th, at the Ottawa Citizen building in Ottawa was very well attended, about seventy people. Obviously, interest in nutting is exploding! ECSONG Secretary Vera Hrebacka successfully promoted the meeting through newspapers and the Internet. ECSONG Treasurer Art Read signed up 30 members, including a half dozen brand new members.

Exhibitors included Ernie Kerr, Veratika Canada, Cobjon Nutculture Services, La Pépinière Lafeuillée, Oak Valley Nut Grove, Lavant Shagbarks Nut Grove, Cory Lake Nursery, and the Ferguson Forestry Station.

The meeting was opened by Hank Jones as Chair, and MC'd with wit and humour by Alan Jones, Ottawa Valley playwright and thespian. Sergei Ponomarenko videotaped the proceedings.

We had four excellent presentations on diverse nut matters. Leading off, Murray Hunter and Scott Mellon recounted their establishment of the Ferrers Clark Memorial Nut Grove at the National Research Council in Ottawa last spring. John Sankey coordinated for ECSONG, and Kurt Wasner donated the trees.

In the second presentation, a panel of nut tree nursery folks introduced their products and services to the assembled nut growers. Sherry Funnell overviewed the new Cory Lake Nursery, Ed Patchell introduced the Ferguson Forestry Station, and Hank Jones sitting in for Bernard Contré outlined La pépinière Lafeuillée.

During our intermission, Dan Mayo and Vera Hrebacka led a toe-tapping, ice-breaking singalong. They promise new nut songs for ECSONG's next meeting! Also, our traditional nut cuisine table was well stocked with delectable nut goodies made by Kathleen Jones, Genice Collett, Irene Broad, Isabelle Legacy, Jo Saunders, and Harriet Wasner. The table raised $60, a new record!

Our thanks to Kristina Popadiouk who conducted the Gathering's Children's Program again this year, attended by Sherry Funnell's two girls (we want more kids!)

The third presentation featured Len Collett, Jim Ronson, John Sankey and George Truscott outlining their scientific documenting of the Lavant Shagbarks, and their proposal for safeguarding the thousand or so shagbarks they found. This site may be the world's most cold-hardy shagbarks in a naturally regenerating stand. Our presentation program ended with a discussion on propagating Ginkgoes in this region by Jeff Blackadar.

Many thanks to the Ottawa Citizen, and to the Gathering organizers. See you all at the AGM in March.

The Gellatly Nut Farm Lives!

The birthplace of commercial nut research and development in Canada was the Gellatly Nut Farm in Westbank, BC. Over the years, many superb hazelnut/filbert hybrids and selections have borne the Gellatly name. When our parent SONG made a special distribution of hazelnut seed in 1987 to promote the growing of productive nuts, it was a Gellatly variety they chose.

As you may remember, four years ago the Gellatly Nut Farm Society was formed to raise funds to buy the farm in order to preserve it and its work for all of us. Well, they have succeeded! The Regional District government has agreed to purchase it.

To everyone in the Gellatly Nut Farm Society, and those ECSONGers who contributed to their effort, many, many thanks. We celebrate your triumph, and what you all have achieved this day for Canada. We now have a national corner stone around which to build Canada's emerging nut industry.

Now, the Society's task shifts to raising money for restoration and development of the site. You can contact the GNFS at Suite 702, 22-2475 Dobbin Road, Westbank, B.C. V4T 2E9, or at

Nut crackers of 780,000 years ago

Israeli archeologists have unearthed what they believe are the oldest verified nutcrackers used by our ancestors.

The crackers are basalt stones which show indentations apparently made while pounding the tough shells of wild pistachios, almonds, water chestnuts and other nuts. The deep, round and smooth shape of the pits is consistent with their being used for cracking nuts and not the harder hammering associated with hand axes, cleavers and scrapers found near them.

The site dates to about 780,000 years ago. Seven species of nuts, most of which can be cracked open only by a hard hammer, were uncovered. Five of the species are extant terrestrial nuts, and two are aquatic nuts now extinct in the area. Thus the site offers unique evidence of nuts eaten by early humans and of the technologies used for processing them.

(Details: N.Goren-Inbar, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 99(4), 2455-2460, 2002)

Provided by ECSONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.