The Nuttery : Volume 7 Number 4 September 1988

In this Issue...

An important message from Mark Schaefer

This issue of the Nuttery promotes the publication of the first Nut Growers Manual for Eastern Ontario. Yes, indeed, in fact a manual for Ontario or maybe Canada. The closest formal publication I know is Nut Culture in North America, published by the Northern Nut Growers Association (NNGA) in Hambden, Connecticut. Our parent, SONG, has a multitude of information on nut culture in southern Ontario, but has not yet brought it all together in one compact, readable, how-to manual. We are.

Statements of "great opportunities growing nut trees" frequently appear in SONG and OMAF newsletters, etc. But, to my knowledge, we have no great nut industry in Ontario, only a handful of solitary, persistent, dedicated, semi-researchers plucking the occasional superior performer from the tree stocks so patiently grown over the years by equally dedicated people. They get good nut harvest and have some fine trees.

We have no continuity to our nut tree research. Governments pay lip-service to this field and promptly cut funding in favour of reinventing the wheel. So is looks like it is up to us, private enterprise. Data from our test plots must be meticulously recorded. Yes, test plots, every tree or handful of trees we plant must be traced to its origin - a genealogy, so to speak. We must know everything about the past, we must select seed from the best trees, particularly native trees. We cannot afford to pick up a handful of seed somewhere and stick them in our garden to see what happens. If something special happens, then what?

We have devastated the genetic base or gene pool of all our native trees, particularly the nut trees. In our haste to clear the land for agriculture and forest products, everything went but especially the best - first. Now we must search nooks and crannies for the progeny of these once superior trees. Someday, someone will stick a seed in a garden that will perform outstandingly. We will know where it came from - the hunt is on. That is what makes horticulture such an interesting field. That is why we have our organization called SONG.

Alec Jones, Fil Park, and Hank Jones (the Ottawa chapter's Committee of Past Chairs) are assisting in the formulation and publication of the Manual. It is a start. It will not solve all the problems associated with nut growing, but should whet your appetite. We need instant internal communication in this organization. I know many of you have a wealth of personal experience, no doubt seemingly insignificant to you, but of great value to our final objective - the growing of superior nut trees in eastern Ontario.

So, refer to the Table of Contents in the April 1988 Nuttery. This is the approved format, and any observations you report, no matter how small, should make reference to the relevant section. Plan on attending the seminar. Now is the time to start collecting your thoughts and making notes to bring along for the round table discussions. We need every scrap of local experience we can get.

Contact Alec, Fil, Hank or me anytime. Remember, this is your manual.

The Nut Growers Seminar

The Nut Growers Seminar will be held Wednesday, October 5, 1988, at 7:30 PM at the Frank E. Ayers building in Dickinson Square, Manotick. Follow directions on the enclosed brochure. The Seminar is everyone's best chance to meet to discuss the questions and answers the first Nut Growers Manual for astern Ontario must address. There is much more information about this seminar in many of the articles throughout this issue of the Nuttery.

The Seminar will begin at 7:30 PM sharp. The Chair of the Committee of Past Chairs, Hank Jones, will open the seminar by explaining briefly first how the Decennial Project is being managed to ensure its success, then how the seminar will be conducted. The manual editor, Mark Schaefer, will chair the seminar, and documenting the proceedings is vital, so rapporteurs have been appointed to keep additional notes and to collect the notes to be contributed by participants. Then, Mark will proceed through the manual's approved table of contents, section by section, soliciting relevant comments and contributions. The seminar will end about 9:30 or 10:00 o'clock, by which time every section of the manual will have been referenced, and all notes handed in.

In the two weeks after the seminar leading the submission deadline on October 21, 1988, the editor will pore through the material. He may contact authors for clarification or more information. He will arrange the submitted material for its publication in the Manual's Appendix, properly credited to each author. (Hint: write your submission as a technical paper - Mark can advise you on how to do this if you are unsure.) He will abstract the contents of submitted material appropriately for the Manual's Sections. Be assured, every scrap of information submitted and signed will find its place in this manual with the author's name attached!

Who should attend this seminar? The simple answer is - every member should attend. Some of you may think that you have little knowledge to contribute. You may be right in some sense, but think about it this way. You probably have questions that you would dearly want answers to. In truth, every member, even the experts, still have questions. These questions need to be asked, not only the general questions or the beginner's questions, but specially the very specific questions. These are questions about a specific species, even a particular seed or seedling, or a particular place like your own back yard. These questions must be asked if our manual is to prove useful! And, asking these questions in an open forum like this seminar will undoubtedly trigger remembrances in the minds of many present, and information will begin to tumble out! Start thinking about questions, answers, experiences now, and jot them down. Add to them between now and the evening of the seminar. Bring them to the seminar, along with your pencil and lots of paper. Ask your questions, tell your stories, write down anything new or interesting you hear, and people's names. Give your notes to the editor right there and then before you leave the building! If new thoughts arise later, jot them down, send to the editor right up to the deadline. Be assured, you cannot send him too much material! Lastly, but first and foremost, come to the seminar - everyone should come to the seminar!

Why grow nut and bean bearing plants?

The nut and bean bearing plants provide the most valuable wood of all trees. The wood of the walnut, chestnut, oak, hickory, butternut, locust and so on command the highest prices. They are used for furniture, cabinetry, woodware, tool handles, construction, posts, fuel, plastics, etc. The fruit of nut and bean bearing plants is highly valued as food for humans and wildlife, as are the leaves, twigs and buds for some animals. Walnuts, pecans and hazels are just a few of the high priced fruits. The nut and bean trees, as individuals or forest members, provide many amenities such as shelter for wildlife, cooling for dwellings, shade, soil and water conservation, tree and shrub landscaping, wind breaks that resist high winds and winter's cold, intercropping to boost agricultural benefits as in corn and black walnut, helping depollute the air and water, and so on. There are many other products as well, including fast stains and dyes (black walnut), exemplary mulches (pecan shell hulls), tannins for curing leather (oak), medicines (horse chestnuts and oaks), jewellery (walnut shell) and so on.

Lastly, most people have now heard of the so-called Greenhouse Effect, the predicted, potentially damaging warming of the world's climate, due primarily to increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This excessive carbon dioxide comes from human's burning large amounts of coal and other fossil fuels. One way to resist the buildup of carbon dioxide is to grow billions of trees, which would extract the CO2 to form new wood as fast or faster than it is produced. What better trees to plant than nut and bean bearing trees!

The Decennial Project

The Ottawa Chapter of SONG is in its tenth year. To celebrate, the first Nut Growers Manual for Eastern Ontario is being written. Here is a brief history of this Decennial Project.

The Ottawa Chapter of the Society of Ontario Nut Growers was formed in 1979 to promote nut growing in the eastern Ontario region. In its first decade, it has undertaken many projects to this end. A recording system, called Inventree, for discovering and documenting nut trees found to be already growing in the region was quickly set up. The Baxter Nut Grove near Kemptville is a museum of nut trees showing what species and varieties can definitely be grown in the region. The Oak Valley Plantation near Winchester Springs will demonstrate an orchard of predominantly Black Walnut. A Technical and a Photo Library about nut growing are now well under development. This newsletter, the Nuttery, is in its 7th volume, having published some 25 issues. A cook book on using locally grown nuts has sold over 100 copies. Several seed stratification projects, distributing many thousand seed, have been consummated. These are the highlights of the decade.

As the decennial year drew nearer, the question arose, "what special project could we undertake during the decennial year that could summarize a decade of steady improvement?" It took nearly two years to find the answer! We would write the first Nut Growers Manual for Eastern Ontario, drawing together every scrap and shred of collective How-to experience and wisdom we could find about eastern Ontario. We realized that we have always needed a manual tuned to eastern Ontario conditions.

But, did this special knowledge exist? Who could we turn to to find out? Surely, no one person has the knowledge, or books probably would have been written. However, maybe the Chapter's members plus their expert contacts outside collectively have enough knowledge to write at least a first manual. It could be the "first word", but not by any means the last word, on local nut growing. The Committee of Past Chairs, responsible for accomplishing a decennial project, through reviewing the Chapter's technical progress over the decade, grew more and more confident that the time was right, that this manual could be written now.

So, it was decided that the Chapter's Decennial Project would be all of us collectively writing Volume 1 of a "Nut Growers Manual for Eastern Ontario" under the direction of the Committee of past Chairs.

The Chapter's executive gave the go ahead. Mark Schaefer accepted the editorship. He set up an open-to-all manual editorial committee. The Nuttery office was appointed publisher. The manual's table of contents was chosen and published. The Chapter's Technical library and Inventree are being brought to bear. The editor has begun compiling the general chapters, in consultation with other tree experts. The manual's public release date has been chosen: the Chapter's Annual Winter Meeting, Wednesday, January 28, 1989. Sin sum, the production facility is in place and writing has begun.

Now, gathering in the knowledge about local nut growing from members and colleagues can begin in earnest. The open seminar announced in this Nuttery will be the official kick-off. All aspects of local nut growing will be discussed, questions asked, questions answered, notes taken, note written, literature cited. Come to this seminar. Bring you notes, written or mental. Bring paper and pencil. Bring your questions. Bring your colleagues.

Writing a manual is an arduous task. How has the Committee of Past Chairs prepared itself to succeed at this task? The answer is simply by following good project management practise. An editor has been appointed. A manual editorial committee has been established to assist the editor. The committee has identified 20 milestones, or stages, that must be met to bring the manual to the public before the next Annual General Meeting, slated for March 1989, and placed a deadline on each. In fact, the committee will present the final product at the next Chapter winter meeting on Wednesday, January 28, 1989, at 8:00 PM. In order to ensure success, 25 tasks that must be carried out to complete the milestones have all been defined and assigned variously to the editorial team. For example, the seminar that has been announced in this special issue of the Nuttery (and this special issue itself, for that matter) are milestones in the project. Masterminding, organizing, and carrying out the seminar comprise several of the identified tasks. The committee believes it has left no stone unturned in foreseeing the work that must be done. Be assured, The Nut Growers Manual for Eastern Ontario will be published on schedule!

Writing a hundred page how-to manual for today's pioneering nut growers in a region as large as eastern Ontario and western Quebec is clearly a prodigious task. To succeed, the task must be well managed from square one. To start with, the Chapter has appointed a highly qualified editor, Mark Schaefer, who has many years experience as a registered professional forester in Ontario. Besides his broad base in trees and forestry, Mark has a special interest in nut trees. He has been a member of SONG for many years. He is involved in several chapter projects, and has proved invaluable in liaising with government programs.

The first few sections of the manual will cover the generalities of nut trees. The heart of the manual will cover the specifics of growing nut bearing plants in this region. The content will be based largely on the experiences of today's pioneering local growers, specifically the membership of SONG's Ottawa chapter itself. As you can gather from the other articles in this special issue of the Nuttery, Mark and his manual editorial committee are hunting down all the information about local experiences they can find. Every member will have some point to make or experience to relate.

Remember, when it comes to pioneering nut growing, failures are as important as successes to the furtherance of knowledge. And questions about to plant this or treat that are just as important because simply asking the question may trigger forgotten experiences in your own mind, or recollections in the minds of your listeners. These points must be foremost in your mind as you jot down your experiences. Start jotting down your key points now, while the topic is before you. Expand your notes (questions and points) in the time between now and the seminar on Wednesday 5 October 1988 at the Frank Ayers building in Manotick starting at 7:30 PM. Note your successes, your failures, related discussions you had with colleagues, advice you may have gotten from expert consultants, names of knowledgeable people, articles or books you have seen and read, etc. etc. Send in anything you already have to Mark right away.

At the seminar, the reports of others may trigger more recollections in your mind, so bring your notes, paper and pencils to further expand your notes during the seminar. Almost certainly after the seminar, still other ideas may pop into mind, such as articles you have read, people you have spoken to, and so on. Be sure to turn in your notes at the seminar, even though they may still be rough, and may be only a little different from notes you may have already submitted to Mark. Continue to work on your notes even after the seminar. Use the two-week period before the deadline to rework your notes as your thoughts gel into a coherent technical paper.

All written submissions will be suitably edited into a professional format and reproduced in the manual's appendix under the author's name. Articles from 3 lines to 3 pages (or more) are most certainly sought and welcome. You will get immortalized in print for your work! Do not undervalue your knowledge. Fil Park and Alec Jones have turned in the preliminary information reported elsewhere in this issue. Reading their work may bring ideas to mind. If you have any questions about how to prepare your material, call Mark or any member of the manual editorial committee immediately.

The Seed Exchange

The Ottawa Chapter of SONG encourages the exchange of nut and bean bearing plant seed and stock amongst its individual members and others. This regular Nuttery section is the place for individuals to offer or solicit seed or stock. Notices must be written in "classified ad" style. A $2 or more donation accompanying each notice, to support the Chapter, is requested. Send your notices to the Editor.

The Newfoundland Connection

Alec Jones reports that in a letter dated 31 August 1988, Mr. Woodrow Burry of the Provincial Tree Nursery at Grand Falls NF, reports successful germination of most of the seed that was sent from this chapter of SONG. The only significant failures were the horse chestnut and the butternut, which did not germinate. The Nursery's interest in oaks is very strong (members may have noticed that the same is true here in Ontario). Another of their special interests is the red- flowered horse chestnut and its cultivars. Anyone who can supply butternuts, red or white- flowered horse chestnut (or their cultivars), red oak, bur oak, white oak, or shingle oak are asked to call Alec Jones, Ottawa 828-6459, as soon as possible. Butternut collecting has already begun. Other nuts are becoming ready for collecting. It is time to scout your favourite sites and assess the crop, and plan its harvest. Make your collecting as soon as possible, preferably before the growers manual seminar. At the seminar, arrangements will be made for a Fall collection and Seed Exchange Field Day the following Saturday, 8 October 1988.

Alec Jones writes for the Manual

Probably the main concern of prospective growers in our area is, "Where do you get material to plant?" One day, the answer will be, from your retail nursery, but for now we usually grow it ourselves. The Chapter's aim is to improve the quality of such species as already grow here, and to find ways of growing useful ones that only grow, at present, in more favourable environments. We have three main approaches open to us:

  1. Collect, select and experiment with seeds or scions of the indigenous nut species of the region, e.g. butternut, bitternut hickory, beech, hazel, bur oak.
  2. Collect selected seeds or scions from more southerly species that earlier experimenters have already established in our region, e.g. black walnut, Japanese walnut and heartnut, shagbark hickory, ginkgo.
  3. Obtain seeds or plants grown in more southerly regions, try to establish these to the point of producing seed, then plant these to create a second generation acclimatized generation.

Work is going on on all three approaches in parallel. Some requirements are common to all three. These include methods of protecting the seed and seedling from rodent attack, giving seed the proper exposure to cold that many species require before they will germinate, and finding effective ways of breaking dormancy.

Approach 1 demands emphasis on selection methods and criteria, as well as a great deal of legwork to find suitable bearing trees. Approach 2 requires much of the same. Sometimes, information on earlier work can be found. Approach 3 demands attention to the literature and contacts with growers elsewhere. SONG members in southern Ontario have been our greatest help in this. Above all, sharing information on the work done and results obtained in our own region will do the most for overall progress. The Manual will be our biggest step forward yet.

Among the non-indigenous species that members have grown locally so far are black walnut, Japanese walnut and heartnut, northern pecan, mockernut hickory, ginkgo, Kentucky coffee tree, black locust, honey locust, horse chestnut, Ohio buckeye, painted buckeye, English oak. Very few of these trees have reached the stage of producing seed, which demonstrates that time is the most restrictive of all the requirements in this work.

Fil Park sends in the following for the Manual

I have, as a favourite project, the growing of nut trees, principally walnut, on an island in Big Rideau Lake near Perth. The island is large (10 acres more or less) and has some area with a reasonable depth of sandy loam soil. However, the island is heavily wooded with very tall (60' or more) mixed hardwood and some poplar trees. A small area was cleared to serve as a nursery from which 1-2 year old seedlings have been transplanted into "open" areas in the forest. A planting spot was considered open if it covered a circle 10-15' diameter between the large trees. Local brush surrounding the planted seedling was cleared away to remove as much as possible of the local competition. Walnut seedlings have been planted over a period of 2-3 years. Although growth has been very slow, the survival rate is probably 75% or better. Of particular interest is the observation that the seedlings planted in the forest leaf out earlier and retain their leaves longer in the fall than seedlings planted in the open.

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