The Nuttery : Volume 23 Number 3 (2004)

In this Issue...

A Correction

In the last issue, it was stated that Alex Mucha had offered nut pine seedlings to sell at the Navan Fair. In fact, he had offered them as a gift to improve the exhibit. He couldn't attend himself because of a recent eye operation. We regret the misunderstanding.

Help Wanted at Oak Valley

George Truscott is finding that Oak Valley is proving too far away from Calabogie for him to be the primary caregiver of the Oak Valley nursery as in the past. The weeds have taken over with this year's exuberant growth, seedlings are being lost as a result, and he needs help. Murray Inch ripped up the weediest part with a rototiller this summer, but we really need a local person to help plant, weed and harvest.

This nursery is very important in our community - it provides starter nut trees for the public, as well as demonstrating nut nursery techniques at field days and other public education events. I encourage ECSONGers and friends in the area of Oak Valley to take the Truscott Nursery in hand! It will be well worth your time and effort.

Contact Murray Inch at or 989-1802

Lavant Nut Collection

On 23 Sep Paige Cousineau, Bronwyn Rees and Jim Ronson flagged 8 Lavant shagbarks with nuts. A week later, Murray Spearman, Len Collett and Jim searched and found one tree with downed nuts from a squirrel. The other flagged trees still had nuts. A week later Jim went alone, finding that the flagged trees had no nuts. He saw one location with freshly eaten nuts, also one red squirrel in an area formerly with nuts. The 300 seeds collected went to Ed Patchell for growing.

We have to stay on our toes to keep up with squirrels. Remember, we only have 10, but they have 20!

Toward an FRP Nut Grove Teaching Nursery
Hank Jones

The afternoon of Monday 18 October shone brightly as a group of seven nutty enthusiasts laid down a new nut seed bed at the Fillmore R. Park Nut Grove. The FRP, located in the Baxter Conservation Area, aims to demonstrate to the community which kinds of nut trees and shrubs can grow in the region, and how well each performs. The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) proudly shows the grove to visitors throughout the year.

A nursery was planned from the very beginning of the FRP Nut Grove - see The Nuttery 1 (2) 1982. In 1996, there was an attempt to get the nursery underway (Nuttery 15(1)). Seed stratification projects were undertaken in 1984, 1985, and 1998. Some of the resulting seedlings were planted in the short-lived nursery.

The new bed is a key step in implementing the FRP Nut Grove's long sought, full scale teaching nursery. Such nurseries are designed to show visitors the hows and whys of nut stratification, nutling care and development, species identification, transplanting and so on. The nursery will be a source of nutling give-aways to those who attend future nut grove field days, and as future commemorative and memorial trees around the region. The nursery will also supply new kinds of trees for the grove itself, as well as replacement trees, over the years. The FRP is now on its way to joining the Dolman Ridge Nut Grove and the Oak Valley Nut Grove in also having its own proper nutling nursery.

I led the group. The RVCA's Peter Goddard selected the 4'xl2' site and supplied the tools. He and John McCloskey fashioned the 24 support pegs we needed from the nearby alders. Vera Hrebacka and I brought the seed, namely butternuts (kindly donated by Brent Webster of Ottawa from his own tree), black walnuts and American chestnut. The black walnuts came from the tree on Deakin Road by Prince of Wales in Ottawa, and the American Chestnut from ECSONG's Dolman Ridge Nut Grove.

Baxter visitors April Hope and her two home-schooled kids, Evelyn and Garrett, helped hammer pegs, weave chicken wire, plant nuts and cover the bed to rebuff rodents, who would of course eat everything if they could get into the bed. Garrett cut the chicken wire into the lengths we needed and helped tie it into the seedbed cover. Vera, April, Evelyn and I took progress pictures that will help document our work for future generations to see. John and Evelyn, working as a team, prepared the bed and planted most of the nuts. Everyone took a turn at planting some of the nuts. John and Peter secured the perimeter as the last step.

According to April, our project proved educational for Evelyn and Garrett. April considered it an important contribution to their home-schooling program.

Peter Satterly, who was not able to attend due to work commitments, reports that John personally expressed to him a sincere feeling of gratitude at this fortunate circumstance which allowed him to participate in this historical event. John felt it was a great privilege to be able to contribute to the support of growing nut trees in Ontario.

Peter went on to say, "John was extremely excited by the opportunity he had had and totally inspired that such an operation was occurring. It was too bad that it was only a one afternoon event. I think he would have been happy to have participated in other events. He gave me much detail about his work with Peter (Goddard) to cut the alder poles to use in the cover and his inspiration in the planting of all those nuts. He was also excited about the prospect of having so many nut trees come up next spring and being able to see the results of his work. I felt inspired, too, by John's enthusiasm.

I think it is too bad that he does not live closer to the Oak Valley Nut Grove, which I hear needs maintenance help. Certainly if you have events there and need a willing participant and he is available, it might be worth giving him the transportation to it."

Well, Peter and John, you make it clear that nut tree growing is inspirational to many of us! Everyone agreed that their time was well spent. All in all, about 500 nuts were planted. Hopefully, it will not be long before a full teaching nursery will be in operation at the FRP Nut Grove.

Long Sault Plantation Survival
Murray Inch

I did a partial survey on 28 August of the 1993 planting at St Lawrence Parks, Long Sault Parkway, West Woodlands Island.

Sixty three trees and shrubs were planted on a small plot as part of a larger experiment on nut cultivation potential in Eastern Ontario. The planting was not followed up as proposed. 40 to 45 of the 63 plants survive.

American Chestnut: 7of 15 survive. One, a Johnson variety, has grown to about 18 feet and has a few nuts. The other 6 have been consistently browsed and are only 18 to 36 inches tall.
Shagbark Hickory: 9 of 11 survive. 3, Weschke (graft), Fox and Wilson varieties are about 10 feet tall. The other six are under 3 feet and well browsed and over shadowed by sumac.
Hican: 1 of 2 survives. It is 10 feet tall.
Black Walnut: 4 of 5 survive, variety Sparks about 20 feet, Elmer Myers about 10 feet, Bicentennial about 10 feet tall, Weschke about 2 feet, well browsed. Variety Emma died in 1993.
Persian and Carpathian Walnut: 9 of 9 survive, all under 3 feet and well browsed.
Heartnut, Buartnut and Butternut: 13 (?) of 17 survive/10 above 8 feet. I did not have time to locate each species and variety in this part of the plot and it should be methodically checked out.
Hazelbert: 0 of 4 survive.

It is surprising given the conditions that so many specimens survive. Unfortunately the trial of 1993-94 did not continue so there are no conclusions that can be drawn about cultivated nut production given that the plot was not maintained for cultivation. Black walnut, butternut and related species have thrived better than hickory under wild conditions and hazels did not survive.

1. Deer are present and the population is growing. The majority of trees are below 3 feet tall and are well browsed so make no progress. Most of the trees above 8 feet tall have damaged trunks because of the bucks' antlers. If the taller trees are to grow or even survive they need protection.
2. Sumac covers much of the site and shades the small trees. If the sumac is cut back they will expose the nut trees to further browsing. Thus protection is required for the small trees.
3. Buckthorn is invading the site and even if cutback, will expose the smaller trees to increased browsing.
4. Wild grape vine is a problem in some parts of the plot.
5. Most of the tags on the trees indicating variety have been lost and some form of retagging is required if there is to be any future follow-up. This is important for the original planting was not exactly on grid and with some trees dead and without trace, there is no evident means to relate location and variety from the old sketches.
6. The small surviving trees usually have multiple suckers and no clear leader.
7. Few guards are left from the planting; some have been replaced by sturdy short guards.
8. Ground fabric was placed at the base of the trees and in a few cases this was updated by impermeable plastic. In most cases this is overgrown by weeds. For the small trees at least, it might be replaced if the site is to be fostered. In some cases, newspaper appears to have been used but appears to be popular with mice and risks damage.
9. Any one with a copy of the sketch of the original planting should note that the raspberry patch, which divided the front from the back part of the site has disappeared. Look up above the sumac for the American chestnut, which is about mid point. At the rear, (south end of the plot), the Hican has breeched the sumac and buckthorn.

My thanks to Tom Cassell, Park Coordinator, for identifying the site. Mr. Cassell asked to be kept informed (613-551-0343) of any activity by ECSONG members at this site.

Oak Valley Plantation Survival
Murray Inch

96 trees and shrubs were planted as part of a larger experiment on nut cultivation potential in Eastern Ontario. About 52 of the 96 survive. 12 of the 44 deaths occurred in 1993.
American Chestnut: 4 of 7 survive. None have grown above 5 feet. An additional tree was planted in 2002 and survives.
Shagbark Hickory: 0 of 5 survive.
Hican: 0 of 1 survives.
Black Walnut: 21 of 32 survive. Most,are large, having breeched the pine cover and a few are producing nuts.
Persian and Carpathian Walnut: 3 of 6 survive.
Butternut: 3 of 5 survive, Buartnut 7 of 15 survive, and heartnut 0 of 7 survive.
Hazelbert: 10 of 14 survive.
Bur Oak: 7 of 7 are believed to have survived.

There are several later plantings after 1993 in blocks I and J, which are not well documented. As well many nuts were planted in the east end, mainly black walnut it appears. Blocks I and J have some very large black walnut trees which must have been early plantings. The latter plantings will be dealt with as the area is resurveyed.

These include nut pines: 2 of 4 survive.
Northern Pecan: 2 of 2 survive
Horse Chestnut: 3 of 5 survive but make little progress and others at the plantation are in very poor condition.
English Oak: 0 of 2 survived. Additional English Oak were planted in 2001 but not yet surveyed.
Walnut Kosheley: 1 of 3 may have survived.

The main problem appears to be lack of light, followed by competition with weeds and box alder and ash when the canopy was trimmed back. The weeds have been routinely cut since 2001 and progress has been good. Alders and ash are now being systematically cut back. As most tags have been lost, the trees will be retagged when the east end is resurveyed. The excess of seed planted black walnuts are crowding each other out and will be thinned.

Dolman Ridge
John Sankey

Red squirrels started downing the Dolman chestnuts the first day of October. John Adams was there as they started, and collected two grocery bags full of burs, George Truscott got another. For the next 2 weeks, I collected each day. At the end of the season, I had 350 good nuts, plus a hundred that were not really filled. Most of the unfilled nuts came from the tree nearest to the fence. They've been delivered to Ed Patchell; under his expert hands, we expect many will germinate and go on to be full size trees.

Two winters ago, a snowplow hit our sign marking the American chestnuts with such a blast of gravel that it snapped the 6"x6" wood support like a matchstick. The Lexan-protected sign survived, and was remounted on one of the fence posts. This last winter, it in turn was totally destroyed (along with part of the fence) by another snowplow hit.

The NCC is as persistent as we are. They have just donated a solid metal sign base that is more likely to dent a snowplow blade than the other way around! It's installed, and awaits the coming winter. A second similar base will be used to replace the sign honouring Moe Anderson, which is so low that it is buried in the snow most of the winter.

Lavant Shagbark Germination

Last issue, you heard from some of us amateurs re 50% germination of our precious Lavant shagbark seed. Ed Patchell reports 80% germination! How does he do it?

Remove hulls, soak seed in aerated water for 24 hours, stratify in peat moss for 45-60 days in a frig at 2C, seed into shallow trays in a greenhouse. After germination, transplant to large Jiffy pots.

Now we know how a pro does it. You can buy them from him: $3 each in Jiffy pots. (613)258-0110 ext.224;

Selling Local Nuts
John Sankey

Every few weeks, ECSONG gets an email from someone who wants to buy fresh local nuts. They can't! We've been promoting the planting of nut trees for years, but we have not yet moved that extra step to saleable produce.

There are four major steps in selling fresh Ottawa nuts: collection, hulling, extraction of nut meats, and selling.

On a garage scale, black walnuts can be hulled underfoot at about 6 per minute (including the time to move them around and to clean up). Splitting can be done by hand at about the same rate, probably a bit faster if a foot-operated edge were to be built. Meat extraction of split nuts is the slow bit, at best 2 per minute in my experience. (For many years, Hammons Products used rows of minimum-wage workers for meat-shell separation. Women who lived in rural Missouri would work their hearts out for that then, working at double the production rate I'm able to.) At today's Ontario minimum wage plus minimal commercial overhead ($15/hr gross), this works out to roughly $.20 per nut. With 400 meats to the kilo: $83/kg cost, excluding collection, transportation and sales. Out to lunch! Hammons sells premium selected nut meats on the web for Cdn$24/kg retail. (And, dare I mention that Chinese walnuts from California are available locally for $12/kg?)

What's the difference? Hammons now does everything except final inspection with machinery and electronic eyes. They get significant profit from the nut shells as a specialty abrasive, and sell rejected meats for pig feed. Only a mass market for hulls has escaped them. As a result, they have outlasted every competitor, for over 50 years -their current sales of nut meats total 1-1/2-2 million pounds annually.

Hammons notes that many years they don't get as many nuts as they could market. Could we break even by shipping our walnuts to them? Well, not easily. Hammons pays only US$11/cwt after hulling, Cdn$.30/kg; 6% of the value of the final nut meats. Shipping to Missouri would kill us unless we could fill an 18-wheeler,

It is possible to sell black walnuts as a cottage industry. Gordon Wilkinson reports a store in Vancouver that was selling coffee beans excreted from "some weird Indonesian animal" for $200 a pound! Cobjon has had some success with bandsawing the nuts into slices, which then separate easily; the shell cross-sections find a small market as ornamental items for crafters. But neither will sell walnuts by the ton. Neil Thomas already has 40 fruiting trees and hundreds more on the way.

Is there any way out? Obviously, improve the economics of local shell-meat separation. Ernie Grimo tells us of two methods that work in the following article. But, note that his methods require cracking, not splitting the shells. And, he admits he doesn't make minimum wage doing it.

But, I have another suggestion: heartnuts. They can be hand cracked at 6 per minute, which cuts the production cost in half. And, 90% of the kernels are whole, in my experience. Selling them as local nuts to specialty stores might break even. Ernie Kerr has proven that they can bear well here; Gordon Wilkinson is aiming to be the King of Heartnuts with his farm near Clarence.

Nut trees are wonderful for wildlife and for increasing biodiversity. But, it's mighty difficult to make money off them except by selling seedlings!

Selling Black Walnuts
Ernie Grimo

I collect black walnuts from many home yards, park lands locally and from my own trees. I generally get about 150 bushels of nuts, and am usually offered more than I can handle. Generally after hulling there are about 50-70 bushels of nuts in-shell. After hulling and washing in a modified cement mixer, then sanitizing in a weak bleach solution, they are put in a home made dryer and air dried for a week or more. Then they are returned to bushels and stored in a mouse/rat-proof building until they are cracked.

My cracker is a modified grain mill, the type used by local Southern Ontario Amish Mennonites. They are still made by a Manitoba company but can be purchased from The St. George Co. in Paris, Ontario. I purchased mine by placing an ad in Triad magazine', a corner store trader magazine. There are still a number of these old units around behind the buggies tucked away and unused. These mills only open to about 1/2 inch. By moving the pivot points of the roller, it is possible to get the machine to open to 1.25 inches or more, enough to crack the larger black walnuts.

The next step is key. I made a set of 3 stacking boxes, 2 with screen bottoms. The top screen has 1/2 inch holes, the next has 1/4 inch, while the bottom box has a solid bottom. We pour the cracked nuts into it and shake. The pieces that are too large to go through the 1/2 inch holes are cracked again, the nuts above the 1/4 inch holes contain most of the free kernels ready for sorting away the shell, while the material that goes through the 1/4 inch holes is fine material that is sold for bird feed.

When all of the material is screened in this way, we have two methods that work to separate the shell from the meats:
1) The shell and meat mixture is dropped into a brine solution. The shell sinks while the oily nuts are buoyant and will float. We skin off the meats. We stir the shells to allow more kernels to float up. When we have all we can get out, we put the kernels in fresh water to remove the salt, then dry the meats in a dehydrator or make-shift air dryer. A final hand sort is needed to remove the rest of the shell from the kernel.
2) The mixture can be separated by using a colour sorting machine. We have an I-core colour sorter which was used in the pecan industry. They are now superseded by more modern machines, so the I-core machines are available at low prices when they can be found. It doesn't do a perfect job, but it does help to remove 95% of the shell with little labour. Hand sorting is still required.

We sell the meats for $10-$11 per pound and I am sure that we don't make minimum wage for our labour. I think we could manage if we could get our sorter to do a better job but the technician who knows how to get the most out of the machine is in Georgia and it is costly to get him to visit. A Sortex machine is more sophisticated and uses infrared in the process to make the job work better. I may move to this machine next but I need to research it more.

Repeated flowering of Juglans regia
Dr. Sukhorukikh Yury
Technological State University of Maykop
Republic of Adygheya
Russian Federation
Abstracted and translated by Dr. Roman Popadiouk.

Cultivar development is long, but is the only way of getting better crops of walnuts both in quantity and quality. It is especially important if you are in a climatic zone such as Maykop in the Northern Caucasus where only non-commercial nut culture exists. At this northern edge of the Juglans regia (English walnut) area, quality trees should be slow growing, maturing in few years, and must respond well to cultivating techniques and soil amendments. Repeated flowering also distinguishes cultivars suitable for cold climate conditions.

Our cultivar C-3 is a hybrid developed by pollination of the best local walnuts by a pollen mix of early maturing cultivars from Ukraine, Rostov and Krasnodar. This hybrid is a repeated flowering cultivar.

First flowers appeared on three-year old seedlings, and it produced three generations of flowers in that season. In 1998, first blooms occurred in April, second in May, and third in June. In 2001 and 2002, when the tree was 6 and 7 year-old, respectively, our survey found that buds of the tree have broken winter dormancy 10-12 days later than was noted for wild walnuts growing next to the C-3 cultivar. First bloom periods were very long (up to 20 days) in those years.

For this cultivar, ending of the first bloom coincided with the beginning of the second bloom. Second generation of flowers appeared on new-growth (twigs developed in current growing season) from both terminal and lateral buds. Female flowers occurred in almost all inflorescens.

Third bloom was observed in late July, and fourth in August. Because of small numbers of male inflorescences (8-12 cm long) and female flower clusters (5-10 pistillate flowers in one cluster), these blooms were classified as a bloom of low intensity.

Reproductive organs (staminate and pistillate flowers) predominantly showed up on terminal sections of the last year twigs. There were also vegetative shoots (twigs with leaves only) developed from lateral buds. Apical female flower clusters included 1 to 13 (on average 3.72) flowers and basal clusters included 1 to 3 (on average 1.3). Generally, apical female flowers outnumbered basal ones over nine times. The same trend was found for vegetative shoots. Terminal part of the twig developed 78.4% of current year shoots, and basal part produced only 21.6% of new growth.

In 2001, average weight of a nut from first bloom was 7.5 g, from second 6.12 g, from third 4.81, and from fourth bloom 1.73 g. Nuts from first, second, and third blooms became mature (ripe) in September-October. Nuts from last bloom were immature or empty, but they had hard shells.

In 2002 (a good year for walnuts in the region), average weight of a nut was 7.9 g. Kernels were 58.5% of the total mass of nuts and they were easy to extract. The nutshells were easy to crack, and nuts were uniform by size and form.

Small weight of nuts was considered as a disadvantage of this cultivar. To increase size and mass of nuts, new hybridization was done in year 2003. Pollen for new crosses of the C-3 cultivar were taken from trees producing nuts larger (18-22 g) than the C-3 cultivar does. Mature viable seeds of this new hybrid were produced by flowers pollinated during the second bloom.

Our other research suggests that early maturing cultivars may be used in orchards where tree spacing is 2-2.5 m between rows and 0.7-1 m in a row. These orchards could produce 1 -2 ton of nuts per hectare on third or fourth year after planting.

Editor's summary: we should study flowering patterns in nut trees that we wish to adapt to northern climates. Some trees flower much more often than others. Multiple-flowering trees can still produce a crop after abnormal late frosts by flowering again later, single-flowering trees can't.

Nut trees of St-Paul d'Abbotsford Qc.
Bernard Contré

Here is a descriptive inventory of an exceptional site in South Quebec which I visited in summer 2002. I hope that it will be useful for those that will wish one day to visit the place, by having this map which localizes the main nut trees and oaks.

At about 1 hour east of Montreal, close to the municipality of St-Paul d'Abbotsford, the mountain road, formerly called the English road, follows the Yamaska mountain and is lined with introduced trees, such as nut trees. They are relatively close together along the road. English settlers have been here since 1819 and have a high interest in the trees and their conservation, particularly the noble trees that interest us.

The mountain road (access to 112) is only about 5 km long. Ideally a bicycle tour is advised because frequent stops should be foreseen on a narrow road, if one wants to identify trees in borders and near residences. Trees here form a border of the road or are close to it. More nut trees must be hidden behind buildings and houses.

Some big trees: a large Korean pine near the Anglican church planted in 1880 is 22 m high, 12.6 m spread, 2.43 m circumference. A Manchurian walnut spreads its crown more than 25 m and along with the pine are certainly the biggest in Quebec. 2 hickories (ovata and cordiformis) may be more than a century old with 1 m trunk diameter. The other trees are of average to large size.

Ed. note: my great-great grandfather Isaac Wallace was the first English person to settle at Yamaska mountain, in 1819. He attended the Anglican church shown on the map as soon as it was built and probably helped to build it.

Somerset Ward Values Trees
John Sankey

This December 14th, Councillor Diane Holmes continued her longstanding tradition of Somerset Ward - a Tree Trimming Party at her home, with the $10 admission donation given to the Centertown Citizens Community Association to fund tree planting. Trees could not have a finer champion - her home was jammed with well-wishers.

Spreading the Word about Nuts

Our website continues to attract interest to nut growing that we can achieve in no other way. Andrew Read of Sussex NB wrote to ask about American chestnut and shagbark hickory - we were able to assure him that the Ferguson nursery could supply both for his zone, 5b, from seed we had supplied. Eliane Balchin in Nepean and Catrina Malone of the Byward market wrote to ask about buying fresh walnuts here - Hank got them some. Mark Morris in Navan has started a black walnut grove; Ron Curtis near Manotick is now planning a white oak grove; Lisa Webb of Kingston is planning a nut orchard - someone told her that chestnuts were invasive there! a misconception that we quickly allayed. And David Roberts of Ashton noted, "I keep reading about ECSONG on the Internet", and asked about local seed sources.

Our cookbook continues to attract the most interest, about 8 readers per day. We could improve this by breaking it up into smaller sections, as search engines give higher priority to pages that start with search terms. The Nut Growers' Manual rates high as well, but suffers from low relevance accorded to species as it is presently formatted. Mary Ann Riley's note on bur oak rates much higher in search engine hits. As time permits, I'll be recasting our web presence into chunks that match what people are asking for.

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