The Nuttery : Volume 21 Number 1 (2002)

In this Issue...

Algonquin/ECSONG Workshop

Brian Henderson, ECSONG member and Professor of Horticulture at Algonquin College will be holding an evening workshop Wednesday 8 May 2002 7-10pm. The Workshop is entitled 'Nut Seed Germination and Basic Grafting'. Hands-on grafting is planned and all materials and tools will be supplied. The workshop is solely for ECSONG members and will be limited to 20 participants. The venue is the Horticulture Center (Building M) of the Woodroffe Campus of Algonquin College at 1385 Woodroffe Avenue. The cost is $20 per person in advance.

Registration closes Wednesday 1 May.

Please contact John Adams (258-7995, adamsfam@comnet.ca) or Sheryle Reddick (838-5777, sheryle@magma.ca) for registration details.

Hope to see you there!

Tree Planting on the Dolman Ridge
John Sankey

On Saturday 27 April, I will be at Oak Valley to collect 100 or so swamp white oak, black walnut and American hazel seedlings from the Truscott Nursery. The next day, Sunday the 28th, is planting day for them at Dolman Ridge. The oaks will go in a new plantation in the wet clay of the lowland; the others will be planted along our Nut Tree Trail. Watch for my camper van by the side of the road to join us. Bring a strong shovel - rain or shine!

Then, on Wednesday 1 May from 9am to 11am, a bus load full of grade 6 children from Blossom Park Public School will arrive to plant out the black walnuts that they started from seed two years ago. The planting area is to have a mixture of the nut trees that our First People planted - black walnut, shagbark hickory, and beaked hazel (which is already growing on the site).

A Mohawk elder will be there to introduce the children to a truly sustainable view of agroforestry (eight thousand years of it here!), and Ken Farr will draw on his immense fund of modern knowledge of Canada's trees. All ECSONG members are welcome to join us. Again, rain or shine - if you were a tree, you'd prefer a rainy day to be transplanted!

Then, on Saturday 11 May, I hope to complete the grooming of our Nut Tree Trail so that it can be kept clear with a mower from now on. Shovel work is needed for the most part, but a pruning saw or two will doubtless come in handy too.

There was almost no vole damage at Dolman this winter, even in the lowland white oak plantation, but beavers demolished one of the two super-hardy trees that had survived out in the open next to the stream. Other than that, all our nut trees put on a good year's growth last year, and look to be in excellent shape for the coming season.

An Oak, a Juglans and Thou: Spring Field Day at FRP Nut Grove
Sandy Graham

After a long sedentary winter, we will have a chance to exercise our dormant arboricultural skills at the FRP Spring Field Day on Saturday, 4 May 2002.

There is much work to be done this year.

We need to cut back the advancing forest edge in places where it is starting to interfere with some of the nut trees. This will involve cutting saplings and cedars, pulling out grape vines and generally hacking back rampant growth of all kinds. If you want to experience some "Roughing It in the Bush", then our Wilderness Adventure team is for you.

If pruning is your passion, you can help us improve the trees by removing broken or crossing limbs, selecting leaders and generally exercising the privileges of your artistic licence. A word of caution: walnuts are not a good choice for topiary.

There will be new young trees of various kinds to plant.

We have a hedge of hazels that is in dire need of assessment. The trees have not done well in recent years and we shall have to decide whether to replace them or cut them to the ground in the hope that the new growth will do better in the light and fresh air.

Miscellaneous jobs include setting the posts for our new self-guided interpretive walk, mulching the established trees to keep lawn mowers away, helping to sort out the jumbled Juglans collection, tagging the trees once we figure out what we have, and standing around in warm sunshine watching others work.

Bring a lunch, some tools, a tree book and some infectious enthusiasm.

There is a winding, and very rough, road from the RVCA workshop for vehicular access. You can reach the workshop by turning hard right at the end of Rideau Valley Drive South rather than going in the main entrance for the Baxter Conservation Area. Follow the highway (Dilworth Road) for one kilometre or so until you see the workshop on the left. The access road runs across the grass to the right of the fenced works yard. Alternatively, you can stay on Dilworth for another hundred metres, turn left on the Third Line Road and park at the end of the road. A short path beside the garage leads into the grove.

In the event of heavy rain, the field day will be held on Sunday. In the event of heavy rain on Sunday as well, we may want to consider building a nice walnut ark.

If you are planning on coming out, I would appreciate a call (489-4159) or an e-mail (jsgraham@magma.ca) so that I can apportion the work.

The ECSONG display
Hank Jones

ECSONG hastily mounted a display at the Kemptville Winter Woodlot Conference 2002 held at the Kemptville College. John Adams and Bob Humble, with the help of organizers Dave Chapeskie (OMAFRA) and Alf Campbell (Ferguson Forestry Station) put up our banner and some brochures and artifacts. They were surprised at how much attention they got - seems many folks are becoming keen on getting nut trees growing! It was amply clear that ECSONG needs to attend all these events, and many other ones as well, in order to reach the interested public across the region.

As John and Bob pointed out, our poor old display is showing its age. It is in need of total renovation. The two have decided that they are going to take the lead in getting this project underway. Bob says that we also need to develop an exhibit program so that we can be sure members have easy access to ECSONG display materials, so that we can all be showing our stuff at many events at the same time across the region.

John and Bob are looking for interested members to pitch in and get our new display up and running as soon as possible. Raquel Beattie in Kingston has already thrown her hat into the ring. John is also planning an evening brainstorming session at his house, to be held soon. He is looking for volunteers to join him, Bob and Hank to lay out a long term plan.

Contact John at 613-258-7995, adamsfam@comnet.ca, or Bob at 613-528-4945, shirlbob@primus.ca.

Nutculture Student Topics
Hank Jones

The Alec and Kathleen Jones Foundation for Nutculture Research has been established to commemorate Alec Cobden Jones, co-founder of ECSONG, and to enable Kathleen Jones to continue her enthusiastic support for nut growing in the years ahead. The AKJ Nutculture Prize, today worth $300, aims to encourage college level nutculture work by annually awarding the prize to the college student in the Eastern Ontario region who submits the best paper on nutculture in Canada.

The prize has been announced for the year 2002, and posters are on their way to colleges with programs in Forestry, Agriculture, Agroforestry and Horticulture. As this prize is new (awarded only once, to Mary Ann Riley for her paper on Bur Oak), the student community has asked the Foundation to suggest topics.

I seek suggestions from ECSONG's members and colleagues, to pass along to the students. Please review your scientific or technical needs and interests on the subject, and forward your topic suggestions to me right away. Your ideas do not have to come all at once. Email makes it easy to send them along whenever you think of one! So, keep the ideas coming.

Le Rendez-vous horticole

ECSONGer Bernard Contré of Pépinière Lafeuillée near Joliette, Quebec, is taking ECSONG to Le Rendez-vous horticole May 24, 25 and 26, 2002 being held at the Montreal Botanic Garden. We will occupy a 10 by 10 foot booth. Bernard will be selling some of his nut trees at the show, to help fund- raise for ECSONG.

He is looking for volunteers to join him in the booth. If you have not seen the Gardens, this is a grand opportunity to 'double your pleasure, double your fun'! Contact Bernard as soon as possible, at 450-759-5458 or by email at lafeuille@pandore.qc.ca. For more information call Bernard, or Hank Jones at 613-231-4224.

Our Schools & Nut Trees

The Ottawa Montessori School on Lindsay Avenue in Ottawa is preparing to plant trees in their schoolyard. Dana Vanier has asked if ECSONG would like to talk to the school about nut trees. Hank Jones has suggested that maybe more could be done, as nuts (being large seeds), are an excellent way to introduce some of the basics of botany to children. If you are interested in getting involved, contact Hank Jones 613-231-4224 or Dana Vanier at 613-230-4908.

Ontario high school students are required to provide 35 volunteer hours community service during their high school years. ECSONG can sign off on their hours. This should encourage us to connect to the schools, partly for the help youth can offer in enhancing the groves, but also to introduce nut growing to today's young folks as a critical investment on the future.

Grade schoolers also would benefit greatly from activities in the groves. Dolman Ridge and Blossom Park School is our best example of such a liaison. All our groves could have similar programs with schools in their vicinity - an excellent investment in the community's future. Contact your closest nut grove coordinator or school principal for opportunities.

Nut Tree Agroforestry: where you find the money
John Sankey

To make money off a nut plantation, you need to do three things: make money off the land that isn't being used by the trees when they are young, make money off the nuts, then pocket a bit at the end when the timber harvest is done.

A 'bit at the end'? Well, yes. If a seedling costs you $2 to plant, 10¢ a year to weed, prune, protect against voles, etc., optimum harvest value is at 70 years, and commercial interest rate is 9%, then you need to get $1300 stumpage per tree just to break even. And, that $1300 leaves no allowance for risk of loss by ice storms or disease, for the risk that land values will increase by less than 9% per year, for taxes of any kind ...

It's the time between investment and return that is the killer with timber. So, the time to return must be reduced.

In the latest issue of The Nutshell, the newsletter of the Northern Nut Growers Association, Larry Harper, HarperHill Farms, 908 Danforth Dr., Columbia, MO 65201, describes one successful way of doing that - raising beef between the rows of trees.

Grazing cattle between the tree rows can be effective from an economic standpoint. There is little or no machinery cost involved. The cattle walk the crop off. They also mow the grass and fertilize it.

At HarperHill Farms near Butler, MO, located near the Kansas border in the west central part of the state, this type of agroforestry system has proven very effective. Steers weighing about 600 pounds are purchased in early April, just as the grass is greening up. They graze for about four months and are sold the first week of August.

With a carefully designed rotational grazing system, the steers gain about 180 pounds over the period. There is a cushion of $20 per head because each steer has eliminated that much mowing cost. The grass returns to the necessary height for convenient mechanical harvest of hay by the first of September. Manure has essentially disappeared and doesn't hamper hay harvest.

By selling the steers early in August, they miss the summer slump of no gains during hot weather. Even better, the odds of selling on good markets are increased. Price trend charts over the past 20 years indicate that feeder calf prices begin to fall off after the first week in August.

To keep the cattle from damaging the trees, especially when they are newly planted, an electric wire is strung along each side of the tree rows in a configuration that allows the cattle to graze more than one alley at a time. Once the trees grow to a height of 10 feet, the electric fencing is no longer needed. The steers tend to create a browse line under the trees about 5 feet high.

The next issue of The Nuttery will put some numbers on intercrop options, based on OMAFRA and Bank of Canada data. I hope by then to have useful data on nut crop saleability and black walnut timber prices as well.

A Thankyou to Ted Cormier
Hank Jones

Since 1993, Ted Cormier has been a member of ECSONG. He has contributed significantly to the success of the organization, and notably to our most significant successes. It is all too easy to take people like Ted for granted, as they seldom ask for anything in return! I want to remind you of some of the many ways Ted has helped make ECSONG become well-known and highly respected across the region.

In 1994, ECSONG took the lead in organizing the very first 'Nut Tree Culture Workshop' held Saturday, October 29, 1994. Ted took on the major task of organizing the program. This is the most demanding role in such an endeavour. Ted excelled, attracting the biggest names in nut growing in Canada and the northern USA as presenters! I can tell you that, at that time, no one else around here could have done this. I sure hope Ted will be available to participate in the Ontario nut conference soon to be in planning, to be hosted in this region, in 2003.

In 1996, ECSONG exhibited at the Ottawa Spring Home and Garden Home Show, which attracted some 40,000 visitors. The Seed Source, operated by Ted and Isabelle, provided many nut seedlings to the booth, helping ECSONG significantly in its fund raising.

Since 1993, when ECSONG took on organizing the second (and subsequent) Nutters Bus Tours, Ted has provided the itinerary in every case. These biennial tours have been a resounding success over the years, and most of the credit must go to Ted for his exciting itineraries.

From 1992 through 1997, Ted directed the Nut Tree Culture Project funded by the Eastern Ontario Model Forest. Under this project, Ted directed many thousands of dollars towards ECSONG, and our nut groves (FRP, Oak Valley and the Dominion Arboretum) received many of their best specimens, thanks to Ted. Additional nut groves were also created, not now under ECSONG care.

As well, Ted arranged for the project to help develop nut handling equipment. In 1994, he obtained sketches of a homebuilt black walnut huller from a colleague in the USA, and passed this to Alcon Welding, and a huller was built. With some funding help from the Project arranged by Ted, Alcon was able to build a second improved huller. Ted undertook to test the first huller by installing it at the G Howard Ferguson Forestry Station at that time. It is still there today, where Ted has used it to clean all the black walnuts that the Station has grown since 1997.

Ted also arranged funding for two nut related studies, one the designing of a Superior Nut Tree Contest, and the other the design of a Nut Producers Needs Questionnaire.

In establishing The Seed Source, Ted and Isabelle were among the first folks in the region to start a business that earned an important part of its income from nut seeds and nut seedlings.

Ted also gave of his time to ECSONG's executive, as Vice-Chair in 1996 and 1997, then as Chair in 1998.

It was Ted who brought the then-new Forest Gene Conservation Association to ECSONG's attention and encouraged us to join. Which we did. FGCA has since become one of ECSONG's most dedicated supporters.

In 1999, Ted brought to ECSONG attention an isolated stand of Shagbark Hickories growing successfully well outside their normal range in Lavant Township, Lanark County. Ted helped smooth the way in telephone conversations with Linda Forsythe. ECSONG quickly focussed in on this site and is now working very hard to see it preserved.

Ted prepared the original text for the Landowner Resource Centre's extension note entitled "Planting of Nut Trees".

These are only some of the higher profile things Ted has done for ECSONG over the last ten years. I know that ECSONG members will want to join me in kudos to Ted. Thank you, Ted, for all your support over the years!

Nuttery News

The Nuttery is now internationally recognized! That is, we now have an International Standard Serials Number - ISSN for short. Two copies of each issue now go the National Library, to be kept for future generations.

And, ECSONG has begun a newsletter exchange with like-minded organizations. Currently, our library is receiving issues of The Nutshell, from the Northern Nut Growers Association, and of Oak News & Notes, from the International Oak Society. Hopefully, more will join us in promoting the world of nut growing.

A New Nut Growers Group
Neil Thomas

I attended a meeting of New York State nut tree growers interested in forming a state-level organization. Held at Alfred State College, NY, on 9th March 2002, the meeting included a tree grafting demonstration by Malcolm Olson, of Findlay Lake, NY, and a presentation on the development of new hybrid chestnut cultivars by John Gordon of Amherst, NY. After lunch the attendees got down to business, and decided to move ahead on the formation of an organization, name still unknown.

They have a long way to go to catch up to ECSONG, they face a bigger geographic challenge (as they will be state-wide), and much of their climate favours a greater range of nuts than does Eastern Ontario. I attended because of the proximity of my farm to the US border, and will monitor their progress.

Dominion Arboretum
Roman Popadiouk

I want to ask ECSONG members to share their knowledge about trees in the Dominion Arboretum in Ottawa. Over a thousand species, varieties, and cultivars of trees and shrubs grow there. ECSONG members added many nut trees to this collection. Some of them are growing well, but some have disappeared for various reasons.

If you know when and what kind of nut trees were donated to the arboretum by any ECSONG members please contact me at (613) 526-3257 or roman002@sympatico.ca

French Walnut Pruning
Stuart Robertson

I am just back from a holiday in the Dordogne region of France. As you may know, there are lots of walnut trees there, used for nut cakes, aperitif and other foods. I was amazed at the pruning that they do. The trees are kept as whips without any side branches until they are over 6 feet tall, then they appear to be radically pruned back each year at the crown, so that they are a solid mass of thick branches when spring hits.

Do you know of this system? Is it only useful in milder climates? I have a new grove of trees and have not been pruning them at all. They are in need of attention, but would you recommend cutting back to a single whip? Once my trees are older, I am considering making green walnut aperitif: it was fabulous and I found a recipe!

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