SONG News Fall 1972 no.1

The Inaugural Newsletter of the Society of Ontario Nut Growers

In this Issue...

How Far! How High!

It is with a great deal of enthusiasm and expectation that I look forward to the future of nut growing in Ontario. We have completed a vigorous first step in forming SONG. But, where do we go from here? What are our goals and our limitations? What are the attractions of nut growing that sets it apart as a special plant growing activity? These are the questions we must explore and have answers for.

Thus far in Ontario nut growing has at its worst been backward, at its best, haphazard. Nut trees have been cut for timber faster than they have been replaced. Where trees are being planted, extremely few are grafted trees or even superior seedlings. The rare Ontario nursery supplying nut trees, sells trees of uncertain background. It is appalling to note that not a single new named Ontario nut variety has been established for over thirty years. In contrast, the Pennsylvania Nut Growers have developed and. named several superior varieties in the past five years. Doesn't Ontario have any superior trees? The response is a definite "Yes, we do have!" The obvious query, then, is - "Why aren't they recognized and named?" The answer is simple, we need a group of interested, enlightened people who are willing to follow up and promote new discoveries.

Few are willing or able to do it alone, though some have tried. Interest and enthusiasm are contagious motivators, capable of keeping our group vibrant and our involvement keen. No less than five superior Ontario hickories have been brought to my attention in the month of October alone. They all show considerable promise. Will they be treated as odd curiosities and forgotten or will they have a follow-up? Little could really be done without an organization like SONG. The life blood of our organization is our spirit of adventure, our willingness to try something new or different. Grafting, variety testing and selecting superior seedlings are the prime activities that urge us toward our rainbow's end - the perfect tree.

Due to a shorter work week, longer vacation periods and earlier retirements, there has been an increased interest in hobbies and creative recreation over the past number of years. Not the least of these has been the growth of horticultural activities. This, coupled with the growing interest in natural foods, and concern for the preservation and improvement of the environment, has increased interest and awareness of nut trees. It is not a modest boast that suggests that SONG. will double or even triple in membership in the next year. Growth will only be limited by the imaginative effort each of us displays in getting publicity and sponsoring membership. A good example of phenomenal growth has been demonstrated by the North American Fruit Explorers, a horticultural group that has over six hundred members built up over the last few years.

In the minds of most people, nut growing is limited to the southernmost shores of Ontario. Many other fallacies have been generated too, discouraging attempts to grow nut trees. With the right varieties and selections, nut growing is not only possible almost everywhere in Ontario, but is also commercially practical in some parts. Existing sweet chestnut, hickory, and Persian walnut (English walnut) selections are well suited to much of the rich Southern Ontario soils. Black walnut and heartnut push the frontier further northward, while hazels and butternuts are known to endure extreme conditions of climate. Where are the limitations for each variety? Let's find the northernmost walnut ... butternut...and breed a more northern one. Let us reach farther and higher!

Our next step forward must be membership. Let's do some personal recruiting. Sponsor interested nut growers. Inform TV, radio and news media of our existence and goals. Speak to horticultural groups. Set up displays at regional fairs. Let the editor know what you have been doing. We have an interest worth shouting about. Let's do our share!

In The Spirit Of Corsan, Neilson And Crath

If one searches far enough in the field of any specific endeavour, it is usually possible to discover that several Canadians have made some outstanding contributions to that endeavour - and it would be difficult to find a better example than in nut growing. Many Canadians will still remember the radio shows of a Mr. George H. Corsan who promoted the growing of nut trees and also praised the worth of nut products in the human diet. Then there were the Joint ventures of the Rev. Paul C. Crath, Mr. L.K. Devitt and Mr. G.H. Corsan whereby approximately 25,000 seedling walnuts from seed gathered in the Carpathian Mountains of Poland were produced and sold commercially. Canadians will still remember Professor James Neilson who worked actively and vigorously at the Vineland Experimental Station for several years. A number of the trees which Professor Neilson planted at Vineland still stand and are available for inspection by all who are interested. However, in the early 1900's, the horticulturists of Ontario really had not caught the spark for nut growing and in keeping with another established Canadian tradition Professor Neilson moved his activities to the United States. In the U.S. Professor Neilson satisfied his ambitions of establishing plantings of several species of nut trees at the Michigan State Experimental Farm and also at the estate of Dr. Harvey Kellogg - the man who invented the corn flake.

Now it would appear that in this year of 1972 that a new wave of vitality is sweeping through the ranks of nut growers in Ontario and other parts of Canada.

Interestingly enough samples of some of the genetic materials which were exported to the United States a number of years ago are now being imported back into Canada. No doubt further imports will be of great benefit because of the considerable lead which has been established in the United States through the ambitious selection and development programs in that country. Although interest in nut growing in Ontario has not been readily identifiable for quite some years, the picture is rapidly changing and the signal of that change is the formation of the Society of Ontario Nut Growers. A number of growers are now hard at work with many experiments to advance the production of nut crops of all varieties under Ontario conditions - and some are even seeking goals of profitable commercial production.

Who will become the second generation successors to Messrs. Corsan, Neilson and Crath?

Horticultural Find of The Century

Very few horticultural success stories are filled with a greater sense of dramatic adventure than the historical account of the Rev. Paul C. Crath's introduction of the Carpathian walnut into Canada and eventually the United States. It was during the depression years of the 1930s that Messrs Crath and Corsan decided on the venture of importing walnut seed (Juglans regia) from the Carpathian mountains of Poland. Mr. L.K. Devitt was included in the venture because of his ability to raise the princely sum of $500.

Rev. Paul C. Crath war born in the greater Ukraine area of Poland in 1883 but came to Canada in 1908. He became a Presbyterian minister while in Canada and also he carried out several missionary tours in the Polish Ukraine. Crath, the son of a Polish agriculturist, strongly supported the notion that the walnuts of the Carpathian mountain region should produce acceptable or better crops under southern Ontario conditions. When the notion was accepted by Messrs. Corsan and Devitt then Rev. Crath was certainly well qualified to carry out the expedition for walnut seed because of his experiences in various missionary charges in Poland.

Rev. Crath arrived in Poland during mid September of 1934 and knew just where to go and when to get the samples of walnuts. The walnuts were selected, dried and shipped by mid October. Nearly two tons of Carpathian walnuts arrived in Toronto during the first week in November.

Three hundred dollars worth of Carpathian walnuts were sold via the nut exhibit which Mr. G. Corsan put on at the Royal Winter Fair. Furthermore the coverage through the radio show of Mr. Corsan added another $100 in miscellaneous follow-up sales by Christmas of 1934. Also, Mr. Rahmlow of the Wisconsin Horticultural Association purchased several hundred pounds of the walnuts for resale to the association's members and the affiliated societies. Smaller requests for walnut sales came in from all over Canada and the United States.

However, by the spring of 1935, 60,000 of the walnuts remained unsold. George Corsan planted 40,000 of the nuts on a one-acre plot at his Echo Valley farm in Islington, Ontario. The Rev. Crath planted the remaining 20,000 nuts on his farm near Welcome, Ontario. It was estimated that 90% of the walnuts germinated of which approximately 30,000 survived the first cold winter. It was from these two plantings that 25,000 seedling walnut trees eventually were shipped to eager customers all across Canada and the United States.

In retrospect it would be concluded that the horticultural adventures of the Reverend Crath were certainly not unique - in fact this technique of plant introduction has been attempted many times - including the voyage of the infamous Captain Bligh to introduce bread fruit from the Pacific Islands into England. However, when the technique succeeds so dramatically as in the case of the Carpathian introductions, the main characters of such an effort cannot help but become famous in their own time. It is hoped that the example of the Rev. Crath will be taken seriously to heart by those who carry forward activities of the Society of Ontario Nut Growers

Many worthwhile introductions are just waiting to be made of selected genetic varieties to be tried under the limiting climatic conditions of Ontario. For folks with effective imaginations, who knows - maybe we shall see even the elusive pecan growing in Ontario in years to come!

About Carpathian Walnuts and "Near Carpathians"

It has been observed that the venture to introduce Carpathian walnuts into North America was so successful that in many cases the name Carpathian has come to be associated with most all of the hardy thin shelled Persian (English) walnuts. The notable exception is the type of Persian (English) walnuts which are grown in California, namely the Franquette walnut which is essentially of French origin. When the many points of origin of the Persian (English) walnut are examined objectively, it is observed that good specimens of the species have come from many different countries - but none from England. Still there is much confusion about naming this species and it is noted that some authors have suggested that the specimens from certain origins might be considered as different "strains'". However, other writers consider the species to be but one, namely Juglans regia, with many observable degrees of hardiness and ranges of adaptability.

A few notes about Juglans regia are summarized herein as extracted from a number of current publications:

Further reference material on Juglans regia and the many other nut species are available in the annual reports of the Northern Nut Growers Association and also from the "Handbook of North American Nut Trees", edited by Richard A. Jaynes.


"So far as I know, the most northern black walnut tree in this province (Quebec), and perhaps in the eastern part of the continent, is located in the grounds of the Anglican Cathedral in Quebec City (Lat. 47°N) . It is in the middle of a row of trees bordering the grounds of the Cathedral to the left of the church as you face it. I have not found anyone who knows how it got there. It produces nuts, but these are cut down by the squirrels before they have a chance to ripen, and I have not been able to get one, either by myself or through the help of friends, that would germinate. Do you know of any black walnut in Ontario with a more northerly location?"
Henry E. Lefevre.

"Ottawa is the most northern I have seen (Lat. 45½°N )
Ernie Grimo

"We are glad your meeting at Vineland was successful. Mr. John Spick and three friends visited us after that and bought some trees to spread around at three areas. The Ontario government, re Mr. Larrson at Maple, Ontario have also gotten a collection of trees from here. We had both of these on order before the Vineland meeting, however, more interest than ever in nut growing now."
Wm. Gellatly, Gellatly Nut Nursery, Box 191, Westbank B.C.

Propagating Seed

Planning to start a nursery row in the spring? Have you gathered and stratified the seed? Stratification is an after-ripening treatment which involves exposing the seeds in a moist condition to temperatures just above the freezing point for at least six to eight weeks before planting. There are several ways of handling the job.

If rodents are not a problem, fall planting may be desirable. Nuts planted this way might need a mulch to protect them from extreme winter temperatures. Hilling may also be used to protect the seed.

If the wife does not object, or if you have a second refrigerator, seed may be kept refrigerated in plastic bags. Moisture levels are critical however, for too much moisture and seed may rot, too little, and they may not germinate. Inspections should be fairly regular to check on moisture condition.

Another method is to bury the seed in wire (hardware cloth) containers in a well-drained location outdoors. The seed should be stratified between layers of sand or peat moss and protected from extreme temperature fluctuations by a mulch covering. Seed stratified this way should be planted in the nursery row fairly early, before germination becomes too m advanced.

Generally, in choosing seed for planting, larger seed produces a larger seedling tree. Culls of hickory and black walnut can be separated out after hulling by eliminating the "floaters'" in a pail of water. Curing the seed by drying them about 10% before storage may help to increase the germinating rate. Prolonged curing, however, will reduce germination rate.

The Inaugural Meeting of SONG

The first meeting of the Society convened at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 14, 1972 at the Horticultural Research Institute of Ontario in Vineland, Ontario. Some minutes were spent reviewing and amending the Constitution (final copy attached) as previously distributed by Ernie Grimo. The slate of officers for 1972-73 term were elected as follows:
President: Ernie Grimo
Vice President: Cedric Larsson
Secretary Treasurer; Robert Hambleton
Editor: Doug Campbell
Nominating Committee: John Spick, Ben Holmes, Oscar Filman
Membership and Publicity: Betty Martin, Len Lugsdin, Fred Engelhart

A large number of samples of many species of nuts were available at the meeting room for the inspection of those in attendance. Samples of chestnuts, persian walnuts, hazels, black walnuts, butternuts, hickories and even some paw paws were displayed.

After the business meeting there was a tour of the experimental plantings of the Horticultural Research Institute of Ontario. Specimens of filberts, Persian walnuts, chestnuts, hickory (nuts immature) and pecans (nuts also immature) were reviewed at their time of harvest. More than usual interest was shown by the group in the Layeroka chestnut, an introduction of J. U. Gellatly of British Columbia.

The next stop was at the farm of William Hambleton where the membership viewed a grove of several dozen large Carpathian walnuts. Heavy crops on all trees were observed. Also a number of filberts were viewed, several of which were bearing heavy crops.The tour continued to the farm of Horace Troup where a review was conducted of a number of chestnut, black and Persian walnuts, hazels and hickories. Samples were available of the Neilson and Glover hickory, the Layeroka chestnut and several others. Mr. Troup summarized some of the experiments in grafting and demonstrated his most preferred techniques.

The end of the tour was capped off with a supper party which was so graciously provided by Bob and Kay Hambleton at their home. All who were present at the supper are certainly well familiarized with the excellence of the cuisine at the Hambleton ranch.

An expression of thanks is in order for the Horticultural Institute of Ontario and its representative Mr. Robert Fleming, Ernie Grimo, Horace Troup, William Hambleton, Bob and Kay Hambleton and all others who participated in the event of October l4, 1972 in order to make the Inaugural meeting of SONG an unqualified success

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