Annual SONG Meeting
Plans are now going forward to hold the fourth Annual SONG Meeting at the University of Guelph on July 31, 1976 starting at 1:00 p.m. Since Guelph is one of the "Agricultural Capitals" of Ontario it promises to be an interesting site for the Annual Meeting. Members and their guests are invited to come early and bring picnic lunches so that more time will be available over the noon hour to participate in informal discussions with fellow nut growers. These nut grower to nut grower chats can be extremely valuable because it is possible to zero in directly on needed information. The Business part of the meeting will start at 1:00 p.m. and this will be followed by a program of activities.
A note of special interest should be emphasized. Dr. R. J. Hilton, an active member of SONG is also the Director of the new Guelph University Arboretum. One of the Arboretum's special tasks is to determine the hardness of a large number of plant species in the south central area of Ontario. The observation of nut trees in that area is an important part of the series of experiments. Guides will be available to conduct SONG members and guests through the Arboretum grounds.
The 4th Annual Meeting promises to be a most rewarding experience.
67th Annual NNGA Meeting
One of the biggest events in nut growing history will take place in the central heartland of Texas, August 15-18, 1976. The occasion is the 67th Annual Meeting of the Northern Nut Growers Association. Why would the Northern Nut Growers go to Texas for a meeting? It just happens that the South West Pecan Experiment Station is located in Brownwood, Texas and this Station is the center for the performance of all United States Department of Agriculture development research on pecans and pecan x hickory hybrids (hicans).
There is no doubt that those who attend this meeting will learn more about pecans and hicans in 4 days than you would "knocking around in the bushlands" in four years searching for the wild pecans and particularly the elusive hicans. Dormitories and cafeteria facilities will be available at quite attractive prices. Tours will be organized to visit some of the most impressive pecan orchards on earth ... and oh! those heavenly samples of pecan kernels ...
This NNGA meeting is one of the very best opportunities around which you can organize a low cost family vacation with absolutely fascinating results. Since 1976 is the Bicentennial Year, the big meeting in Texas promises to be outstanding in hospitality, information and entertainment.
More details can be obtained from the Northern Nut Growers Association, 4518 Holston Hills Road, Knoxville, Tennessee USA 37914
Look What They've Done to Our SONG
It was in the third week of January 1976 that the Globe and Mail carried a feature article on the heartnut distribution program sponsored by SONG. The article appeared in the column --"After a Fashion", written by columnist Xena Chery. The article stated that all interested persons could obtain a small quantity of heartnut seed (7 nuts) by sending their name and address and $1.00 to Mr. Ernest Grimo, R.R.#3, Niagara-on-the-Lake. The article in the Globe and Mail was followed shortly thereafter by further similar articles in several daily papers. Also the C.B.C. radio carried a feature story on the SONG heartnut offer on one of its programs.
The response was immediate and overwhelming! The first reaction of our dedicated SONG President was, "Why am I getting so much mail?"
The first day after the Globe article appeared there were 15 letters received; the second day 76; the third day 128 ... At one point the neighbours were teasing Ernest that he should get himself a wagon to carry all his fan mail from the mail box to the house. Some letters were still trickling in three months after the first news articles appeared.
There were several long weekends when Ernie, Bob and Doug Campbell got together to write out replies to the many who wanted to try their hand at nut growing on a first-time basis. The response exceeded all predictions. Several times the printed literature for the replies ran short and had to be reprinted. Then there was the concern that there would not be enough heartnut seed in all Ontario to fill the demand! In the final count, there were over 1,000 people who wanted to join in the heartnut growing experiment. Unfortunately, some letters had to be returned to their writers because there was just not a big enough supply of heartnut seed.
Nevertheless, on the fateful day of March 27, 1976 the following gentlemen assembled to tackle the mammoth task of packaging the heartnut seed for mailing ... Ernest Grimo, John Gordon, Roy Metcalfe, Bob Hambleton and Doug Campbell. The task started at 1:00 p.m. and the jobs were not finished until after midnight ... counting, packaging, weighing, applying postage. The final production furnished a good sized load for a van truck!
In addition to the heartnuts some Persian Walnuts and hybrid heartnut x butternuts were distributed to selected locations. One of the objects of the whole venture is to determine the hardiness ranges of the several species of Nut Trees. Roy Metcalfe, 2360 Bonner Road, Apt. 1506, Mississauga, Ontario, L5J 2C7 is going to co-ordinate the accumulation of information from the distribution program. Several questionnaires will be sent to all participants. The information received therefrom will be used to determine the range where the nut trees can produce satisfactory quantities of nuts of acceptable or better eating quality. Roy Metcalfe is well aware now of the extent of his task in summarizing the future reports for all of the heartnut growers. However, the information obtained will provide a great forward step for SONG.
Already the heartnut distribution program has had a dynamic influence on memberships. Memberships have gone from the usual 200 + mark to the 380 + level and is still climbing. This one activity is going to have a greater effect on nut growing activity in Ontario than any other previous action.
There are several benefits which are already apparent from the heartnut program. A significant number of respondents described in their letters what nut trees they are currently growing in their areas. No doubt there would have been more information supplied if it had been specifically requested. However, the following summary of localities where nut trees are currently growing can be of great value to new members. If a nut tree of the species you desire is growing in an area close to your location, climate, etc., chances are that you too will have success growing the same kind of nut tree.
Black walnuts are currently growing at the following locations: Barrie, Bayfield, Beamsville, Beaver, Binbrook, Cavan, Chatham, Cobourg, Columbus, Deep River, Don Mills, Douglas, Drumbo, Dundalk, Dundas, Elizabethville, Elora, Fonthill, Glencoe, Hamilton, Huntsville, Islington, Joyceville, King, Kingston, Mount Forest, Muskoka, Orillia, Ottawa, Owen Sound, Paris, Peterborough, Port Colborne, Richmond Hill, Shanty Bay, Sheguinandah, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Strathroy, Toronto, Waterdown, Welland, West Hill, Willowdale, Windsor.
Butternuts are established and growing at the following locations: Beamsville (Lincoln), Beaver, Binbrook, Caledon, Campbellford, Cobooonk, Deep River, Dundas, Glencoe, Hamilton, Islington, Kapuskasing, Mount Forest, Orillia, Ottawa, Smith's Falls.
Heartnuts have been growing in the following locations previous to the heartnut distribution program: Barrie, Burgessville, Cobourg, Glencoe, Joyceville, Ottawa, St. Catharines, Waterdown, Windsor, Woodstock.
Persian walnuts have been growing at the following locations. (This species is sometimes referred to as the English Walnut): Chatham, Cobourg, Copper Cliff, Dundas, Glencoe, Hamilton, Kitchener, Ottawa, Shakespeare, Sparta, Waterdown, West Hill, Windsor, Woodstock.
Filberts, Hazelberts or Hazels are growing at the following locations: Barrie, Binbrook, Bridgeport, Chatham, Glencoe, Joyceville, Kapuskasing, Kenora, Ottawa, Owen Sound, Peterborough, Richmond Hill, Shanty Bay, Sparta, Toronto.
Chestnuts are growing at the following locations: Binbrook, Chatham, Fonthill, Islington, Joyceville, Ottawa, Portland.
Hickories have been growing at the following locations: Binbrook, Fonthill, Glencoe, Montreal, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ottawa, Owen Sound, Peterborough, Port Colborne, Ridgeville, Sparta, Sudbury, Toronto, Willowdale.
Pecans have been growing at the following locations: Glencoe, London, Montreal, Owen Sound, Tilsonburg, Woodstock.
Put in a Nickel and Get a Dollar SONG
In the fall of 1975 your editor spent about 10 days on the road collecting choice selections of nut seed throughout the southern parts of Ontario and several of the northern States. At one point I stopped at one of the roadside oases in order to take on a bit of refreshment and also to rest my weary limbs. While waiting for my order to arrive, I noted that my ears were greeted with some of the contemporary "culture shock" from a juke box which was located nearby. The singer was belting out the "Nickel Song" which is a neat way of describing how many people expect to "put in a nickel and get back a dollar SONG". How true it is! After reflecting on the idea, I wondered whether there are any activities for which such a great return may be realized from such a small investment. Naturally, my thoughts turned rather quickly to nut growing. Take for example a good specimen of the thin-shelled persian walnut. A select tree should not run you more than about $10.00 for a 90-120 centimeter tree (3-4 feet). You plant the tree and give it some proper care and it will start to give you increasing quantities of nuts after 3-5 years. A good persian walnut should last at least 100 years and the mature production rate should be in the range of 40-50 kilograms (100 lb., approx.) per year with a lifelong average of approximately 25 kilograms per annum. The average value of persian walnuts for eating purposes is around $2.25 per kilogram. Therefore, the lifetime return of a good persian walnut is in the range of $5,350! All this for an initial outlay of $10 plus a maximum of about $40 for the care of the tree during its lifetime (excluding land values, taxes, etc.). Now that looks like a growing investment ... $50 versus $5,350 ... perhaps there is some future for the "nickel investment idea".
Since many of the current SONG members have joined recently, we might spend a few moments describing the proper care of nut trees in order to realize the type of return described above.
There are two main choices: (1) a grafted tree of suitable variety, or (2) a seedling tree from a well selected seed source. It pays to avoid either grafted trees or seedlings which have an unidentifiable or dubious background.
The best soils for nut trees (generally) are the well drained middle loams. Chestnuts will do well on sandier soils and selections of hickory may do quite well on the heavier clay soils, etc. If there are numerous rodents at the planting site (mice, etc.) these should be eradicated by thorough working of the soil to destroy the rodent habitats or other extermination techniques can be used. A soil which is reasonably supplied with well rotted and incorporated organic matter will favour the rapid growth of nut trees and will minimize summer drought problems.
Trees should be planted at the same level in the soil as was the case in the production nursery. The soil which is placed back around the tree roots should be well worked, moist and free of heavy clods. Soil should be firmly packed down around the tree roots. The placement of a surface mulch around the tree will be a definite advantage in preventing summer drought conditions.
Fertilizing and Watering
A band of commercial fertilizer 7.7.7 on clay soils or 5.10.15 on sandier soils may be placed on the surface of the soil around the nut trees ... but at a distance of 30-50 centimeters (12-18") from the tree trunk. If fertilizer is placed too close to the roots or trunk of the tree some fertilizer burn may occur. Two handfuls of fertilizer applied the 1st of May and again the 1st of June should be sufficient for the first and second years respectively. Thereafter, the fertilizer requirements of the trees will increase moderately each year.
If a young, transplanted tree goes for more than two weeks in mid summer without rainfall, some extra irrigation water should be applied. Watering should be very thorough but at infrequent intervals. Close care is required for the first two years ... thereafter the trees are somewhat more independent.
A tree which has lost a significant portion of its roots during the digging process should be "headed back" to about 2/3 to 1/2 of its growth after transplanting is complete. Note that if a tree is transplanted with an ample root ball, heading back may be completely unnecessary. In subsequent years there is not a great deal of pruning that is required for a nut tree except where "shaping" of the tree is requiredł-corrections for environmental damage---or thinning of branches when the foliage gets too dense.
Nut trees as a class, are not any more or any less subject to disease and insects than any of the other shade trees. Generally, spraying of foliage should take place only when a problem is identified and an effective material is available to actually correct the problem. Some spray treatments create more trouble than they solve. Note: Nature has a way of keeping the bugs and the diseases more or less in balance if left alone. Many times the bugs can be merely picked off or shaken off the foliage and burned and such action may save both time, money and the effort of trying to decide what spary material would be effective. Problems of a significant nature should be referred to a department of agriculture representative or other knowledgeable agent for recommendations.
Winter Rodent Protection
Those who have tried to grow trees of any kind are aware that mice and rabbits can spell trouble in the late fall, winter and early spring seasons. The rabbits in particular are out looking for their breakfast in those seasons and a small tree sticking up through snow cover is especially attractive. Tree guards or repellent paints are effective in keeping the rodents under control. Also it pays to keep a small area around the trees worked up and free of grass, weeds, etc. which would otherwise supply cover for mice. Similarly, a worked up area around a tree will tend to keep lawn mowers away from the tender bark at the shank of a newly planted tree. Possibly more young trees are disfigured or mortally wounded by lawn mowers than any other cause!
Spacing of Trees
The spacing of individual trees in a mature orchard of chestnuts might be of the order of 25 feet; whereas for hickory and walnuts it might be 40 feet. However, heavier production can be realized at a younger age if the trees are planted initially two or three times that thick with the anticipation that some trees will be eliminated as the orchard matures.
Many private home owners have the choice of planting an "ordinary", unproductive shade tree or a selected nut tree on their grounds. It is quite apparent that for the same care nut trees will give a much greater return. So folks, lets start planting those nickel investments and get prepared to harvest the Dollar SONGs!
A Bit of Bovine Psychology
No other nut species can surpass the fine eating quality and flavour of the superior Ontario Hickories. Since the wild, native hickories are so widely distributed throughout Ontario, the species are naturals for planting by all prospective nut growers. However, one observes rather quickly that the average wild hickory has a rather small kernel which is difficult in varying degrees to extract from the shells. Therefore, it is necessary to search out some of the very best hickory specimens before grafting of trees may be even considered for commercially productive purposes. The pursuit of the better hickories has led your SONG editor on some rather interesting adventures of which the following is a part.
In the fall of 1972 I located a bush area in the central section of Lambton County which appeared prime for the discovery of superior hickories. Before entering the woodlands, I checked with the landowner to assure that it was acceptable to collect and carry off a quantity of the hickory nuts. There was no problem however, the landowner did warn me to look out for Sam and Fredl "Who are Sam and Fred?" I asked. It was explained that Sam and Fred were two bulls which pastured in the area where the hickory trees were located. Well, I had lived around cattle most of my life so a few more were not going to put me off from gathering my favourite hickory nuts.
When I entered the woodlands, I discovered that there were literally thousands of hickory nut trees from 15 centimeters (6 inches) to 30 metres (90 feet) high. There were so many nut trees that alas, I could not keep the samples separated. At days end I had one big bag full of very mixed hickories with samples from hundreds of different trees. However, there was one blessing for which to be thankful ... ! had not the occasion to meet either Sam or Fred.
After the many nut samples had been adequately dried, I began the process of cracking and evaluating the nuts. Many of the nuts were worthless and others exhibited varying degrees of acceptability. One particular sample for which I could identify 11 nuts, was downright good. It was a combination of good and bad news. I had the nuts but no idea from which tree the nuts came or in what part of the bush the tree was located. Since January in Ontario is no time to be out in the wild trying to identify hickory trees, I concluded that the search for the lost hickory would be a project for another year. Since the bush in question is located in Dawn Township of Lambton County, I nicknamed the tree - "Lost Dawn".
The seasons of 1973 and 1974 were very unfavourable for hickory nut production and my efforts to locate the Lost Dawn in those years was thoroughly frustrated. However, the 1975 season showed some immediate promise. Hickory crops were generally good. When the time was right I was there in Lambton County ready to go ... about the last week in. September. Again I checked with the landowner for permission and everything was OK ... except for that gnawing reminder ... "watch out for Sam and Fred."
The search began. For several hours I combed my way through the woodlands. Some trees looked familiar and others didn't. In fact, after a while they all looked the same. At one point I was investigating a very large hickory tree which was located in a semi-open area. Suddenly I became aware of an uneasy feeling ... the feeling which you get when someone or something is breathing rather hotly down your neck. I looked around carefully in all directions trying all the while to give the impression of a man still in possession of all of his cool. Oh, my GodI There they were ... beady pairs of eyes located under generous pairs of horns ... staring rather darkly through the bushes at me. It was obviously Sam and Fred and all of their followers. So in a flash of ingenuity, I dashed for the nearest, big, healthy hawthorn tree and in a manner better to be imagined than described, I crawled under the low spreading branches and drew myself up cautiously as close to the trunk of the thorn tree as possible. At that same moment the rumbling of hoofs indicated that the animals were on the move. In seconds, the thorn tree was surrounded by a swirling river of white and tan bodies all travelling at considerable speed. Thank goodness for thorn trees! When the angry tide subsided and disappeared from sight, I slid out of my protective perch and went on my way. Out of sight out of mind.
After some further searching I cameacross a medium sized shagbark hickory in the middle of a small clearing. The shape and size of the nuts were exactly what I wanted. There it was, The Fabulous Lost Dawn. There were a number of nuts which had fallen to the ground but many still remained up in the tree. Although the day had been long and difficult, the decision was made to climb the tree and shake out the nuts. Many of the nuts responded as desired when the tree was thoroughly shaken, but some nuts at the top of the tree were a bit difficult. Since my energy was short I decided to leave those nuts which were well fastened to the tree. My return to ground level was amply rewarded with a large quantity of the precious hickory nuts. It was no time at all before I had half a bag full of specimen grade nuts. Then I noticed that strange feeling again ... as if I was being watched. A quick survey of the bushes at the edges of the clearing revealed that there were a large number of beady-eyed creatures watching me and they had improved their techniques this time ... they had me completely surrounded.
Slowly they started to approach. Things started to look a little rough when the creatures were about 60-70 feet away. On the spur of the moment I recalled from my Montana days that loud and unusual noises will often scare grizzly bears away. Impulsively I tried the loud Yahoo treatment on the herd and it did cause them to pause for about 2 seconds and then they started coming again. There was no place for further stratagems; the moment was right for an unscheduled climb. This time the climbing seemed much easier and it was no trouble at all to reach a somewhat greater height in the tree than was the case during my previous effort. Yes, there they were, Sam, Fred and all of the gang. I could just imagine what they were thinking:
Sam: "Where did that fellow go in such a hurry?"
Fred: "Looks to me like he left something buhind."
Sam: " Let's take a look in that bag."
Fred: "Ok, we've seen these things before, nothing much and kind of hard to eat at that."
Sam: " Let's go over and bunt that tree and see what comes down."
And bunt that tree they did, by gosh! The whole tree shook and it was a fairly hefty tree of about 30 centimeters (12 inches) in diameter at head height to -a bull. It was going to be a rough ride. Fortunately the bulls tired of battering their heads up against the tree. They just stood around and glowered up at me. All this time the rest of the herd were tramping around the tree and stomping those precious hickory nuts into the mud. The fall rains of 1975 were so ample that the area was quite soupy wet even before the hoof treatment was applied.
Well! What a fix to be in! At first I thought I could wait 'em out and they would go away. No such luck and all this time I was wondering how I would explain this mess if some of my friends ever found out about my predicament. It reminded me of an occasion when my wife's father was treed by one of his own bulls down there on the farm in Essex County. In that instance he invented the story that the bull had got into the marijuana weed, which grows wild in that area, and from that influence the bull had gone berserk. The story seemed to be newsworthy and eventually received a few column-inches in the Globe and Mail. Shortly thereafter the family farm received a visit from the RCMP to harvest the marijuana. It is not recorded whether they found any of the evil weed.
With the previous instance in mind I felt that this recent situation should be handled with considerable tact. The passage of each moment started to weight rather heavily on my brain.
"So many things to do ... so many more hickory trees to visit ... and here I am stuck up in this
silly tree." Then I noticed that in the enthusiasm of my second climb, I had reached right up into
the top of the tree where a number of nuts were still attached to the tree. The nuts were hanging
on pretty good; nice plump, husk-covered nuts and heavy, yes, very heavy! With slow and
deliberate motions I worked around the top of the tree and picked a quantity of the nuts and filled
the ample pockets of my jacket. Then I dropped one of the hefty nuts on one of the bulls ... just
behind the shoulder blades. The twitching of furry hide after the impact told me that I was
achieving the desired effect. Next I tossed another plump missile on the other bull ... this one
striking in the neck area. These initial two were followed by others to the noses and the small of
the back areas. I could detect a mounting restlessness among the herd and I could see that Sam
and Fred where pondering the situation furiously:
Sam: "Are you thinking what I am thinking?"
Fred: "No! You mean?"
Sam: "Yes The sky is falling!"
Suddenly with a rumble of hoofs and a frantic flailing of tails the herd took off as if chased by 100 spooks. When they reached the edge of the clearing they gave me and the hickory tree one last, running, sideways glance and then crashed headlong into the bushland.
I descended from the fabulous Lost Dawn and quickly finished the collection of a large quantity of nuts and cautiously made off for my car which was a distant half mile away through bush and some open pasture. However, I would wager that if you were to visit that herd even 3 years hence, they would still be muttering about "the day the sky was falling."
Two Great Ontario Hickories
If the reader has the feeling that the foregoing article is a bit of a bull story, you should hear about the time that your editor went searching for some hickory scion wood with his mother's pink umbrella. However, I'm getting a bit ahead of myself because the story really started on March 20, 1976. On that occasion I was visiting Horace Troup and the object of our visit was to compare notes on outstanding hickory nuts. During the fall of 1975 I collected a large number of hickory samples from many locations throughout Southern Ontario and the Northern States. Because Horace has had a great deal of experience with the improved hickories, his opinion of some of the recent discoveries was of considerable interest. Furthermore, Horace realized quite a good harvest of hickories for comparison purposes in the fall of 1975 from the many varieties which he planted on his farm some years ago.
A very enjoyable evening was spent cracking the many samples of hickories. By the end of the evening there were some rather large piles of "spent shells". One of the interesting new producers from Horaces' farm is the Kirtland. Many nut growers in the Northern States have felt that the Kirtland should be grown farther southto be satisfactory. It is very satisfying to note that the Kirtland can fill good quality nuts in Ontario.
Among some of the new discoveries Horace gave the opinion that the CESS and CES24 were of considerable interest i.e. superior to many of the currently named varieties. Some of the nut characteristics are as follows:
CES8: A Shagbark hickory, 45% kernel, good eating quality, exceptionally easy cracking and extraction (with a hammer), somewhat above average size for a shagbark hickory.
CES24: A Shellbark hickory, high kernel percentage for the type i.e. 35%, very light colored, high grade kernel, large nut and kernel compared to other successful Ontario varieties.
The anvil which Horace uses for cracking nuts is of special interest. It is a stone about 10 x 7 x 25 centimetres and there are very noticeable depressions in the working surface of the stone ... owing to the heavy traffic of nut cracking over the years.
I was particularly pleased by a comment Horace made about the CES24. After the nuts had been cracked and all the kernels had been lined up in a row, Horace expressed surprise that the CES24 was so large ... almost to the point that it was hard to believe that it could fit into its own shells!
Horace expressed some interest in obtaining scion wood from the CESS and 24 in order to test same on his mature trees in the Niagara Region. This request put me on the spot for the spring '76 season because the trees in question are 200 miles away from the Niagara Region and it was already March the 20th. For the next couple of weeks the question of scion wood was a rather tender subject in my mind. However, I noted that the SONG Nut Auction was to be on April 24th ... and I could deliver some nut trees to a gent in London on the same weekend ... and then it would not be too much farther to continue on to Sarnia for some scion wood ... The question arose whether the season would be too advanced by the 24th of April in order that the scions would be of any value for grafting. The spring season came on very fast and early in 1976. A quick conference was held by telephone with Horace to see what technical difficulties would arise when attempts are made to graft scions which are slightly beyond the dormant stage. Horace was not entirely optimistic that there would be a good take of scions but he recommended that it was worth the effort because good hickory trees have a history of being cut down for firewood etc.
So the expedition was launched. The whole family attended the Nut Auction on the morning of April 24th and then we continued on to the Sarnia area ... arriving at my parents residence late in the evening of the same day. Preparations were then made ready to secure the scion wood. It was at that point that I realized the preparations for the Nut Auction had completely overwhelmed those for the scion gathering expedition. Therefore I had to borrow a pair of boots (there was a torrential rain storm that morning) a heavy winter coat, a pair of clippers, some plastic bags and last but not least, my mother's pink umbrella!
I drove the station wagon to within half a mile of the site where the trees were located. Then I took off across the pastures in the cold, icy rain storm. (Oh, if only Sam and Fred were to see me now!) The trees were located in short order. There were still some nuts on the ground under the trees confirming that I had the right ones. Apparently the crops had been so heavy that the squirrels could not carry away all the nuts ... so much the better.
Cutting the scion wood was to present a problem. How can you hold onto a branch with one hand, clippers in the other hand and pink umbrella with ... ? It was clear that I was going to get somewhat wet if the efforts to that point were to be worthwhile. I pulled down some of the lower branches and observed carefully the terminal shoot growth. For a brief moment I could well have been in sunny Hawaii as I gazed triumphantly at my objective ... ah! those fat, plump, tan colored terminal buds ... ample numbers of lateral buds in good condition ... last year's growth rather short but still adequate ... scion diameter medium to small ... good for grafting onto small root-stocks ... However reality closes in rather quickly on a person in late April when standing outside in a windy, icy rainstorm. I went about the business of cutting the scion wood. I cut the scions well back into the second year growth as I recalled that Horace had experienced good success with two year old wood. Also the inclusion of the two year old wood might help to protect the buds of last year's growth from mechanical damage in handling etc. After the wood was cut I placed them in the plastic breadbags which I had borrowed. It is surprising how difficult that job can be when you have cold, numb fingers ... furthermore you'll find that real scion wood is not straight like they show in the descriptive pictures on grafting.
The goods were all bundled up and I hurriedly took off for the shelter of the station wagon. There was one thing too, for which I was very fortunate. The state of growth of the buds on the scion wood was very satisfactory ... in fact considerably behind the level of advancement of the hickory trees in the Niagara area. The idea was running through my mind that these hickories might be able to do even better in the Niagara Region than was the case in the Sarnia area. That thought produced a very warm feeling as I raced along through the rainstorm under the protection of my mother's pink umbrella.
Letters to SONG
There were over 1,000 letters to SONG since the last newsletter was published. Therefore it's not possible to publish the letters in full detail. Please refer to the previous section "Look What They've Done To Our SONG" for a summary of the nut growing information from the many letters. The following is representative of a number of the letters which SONG has received arising out of the Heartnut Distribution Program. Many of these letters are gold mines of information as exemplified by ...
Carpathians near Woodstock
During the winter of '34, I ordered some Carpathian walnuts from George Corsan. They were grown on the Carpathian Mountains in Poland. They were picked and sent to Torontoby the Rev. Crath who was well known in Toronto and the Ukraine. Of the 15 nuts I received, 7 trees grew to bearing age, but I destroyed one because it wasn't very good and was in the way. The others bear fine nuts every year. The trees seem quite hardy, only once have I noticed cold damage on the sapwood, but it didn't have any lasting effect on the trees. These trees are partially protected by an apple orchard. -20°F doesn't seem to hurt them.
While all the trees that I have grow some good nuts each year, one tree seems to be superior to the others in both quality and quantity. Another bears very well and has very large fine flavoured nuts, but doesn't mature properly every year. Mr. Corsan saw some of these large nuts and arranged to get some scions of my tree but he was killed in an accident in Florida that year or perhaps by now they would have been widely propagated where spring came a little earlier.
Carpathian walnuts grow quite fast in rich soil and will produce nuts in six to eight years if older pollen bearing trees are near. I have volunteer trees growing all over my orchard, growing from nuts planted by squirrels. Some that are in a fence row are bearing good nuts. The others get cut off each year.
We harvested several bushels this year. We sell them to neighbours and friends every year. I planted some in my woods, they grew fine but the squirrels get the nuts before they mature. My biggest nuts are nearly as big as hen's eggs, all of them have shells so thin that I can crush them in my fist. Quite a few people have gotten seedlings and planted them.
I also have northern pecans which I grafted on bitter hickory. They are completely unprotected and are perfectly healthy, bearing huge crops of fine looking nuts every year, but they seldom mature properly here.
I have filberts maturing nicely too. I hope that someone has trees growing from filberts that Mr. Corsan had growing in Echo Valley in 1951, they were equal to anything I've seen imported.
I hope this letter interests you and would welcome hearing from you. If you would care to see the
trees, I live just north of Hickson on 59 Highway, about 9 miles north of Woodstock.
Calvin E. Clank, R.R.#6, Woodstock ON
Let's Shake the Walnuts out of the Past
During our recent heartnut program I received several letters similar to the above. Often mention was made of walnut trees in the locality. It soon became apparent that we were just touching the top of the iceberg. How many more of the Crath and Corsan Carpathian walnuts are out there - more important, how many are in locations where climatic limitations predict that they shouldn't be there? I suggest that the hardiest Corsan Carpathian tree has not yet been found. In his lifetime George Corsan distributed thousands of walnut seeds and seedlings, far afield of his native Toronto. Many of those trees were capable of withstanding -40C. Let us suppose that some of these very hardy Carpathians were planted in the Holland Marsh area, or Peterborough or Barrie or ... .Would it not be appropriate to suspect that these trees are still there for us to discover? Let's make an effort to bring these trees to light. If you know of such existing trees, let us know.
It is our intention to keep track of interesting nut tree locations as they are reported to us. This
will serve as a useful pool of information as well as a source of potentially new named varieties.
These remote hardy trees could be the beginning of a new extended walnut range in Southern
Nut Auction - Royal Botanical Gardens
April 24th, 1976 was a cold, rainy day in an otherwise exceptionally early spring season. The weather of the day did not keep 140 eager nut growers from attending tke NUT AUCTION at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton on that date. There were many guest.s and visitors present at the Auction as the result of favourable news coverage from the Globe and Mail, Toronto Calendar Magazine, CECE television, CBL and CFRB radio ... The business transactions got under way at approximately 1:00 p.m. Ray Halward was both master of ceremonies and auctioneer. Hay ably described the auction items whether obscure or well known. For example: there were some osage orange trees and Oregon lilies on the auction block as well as the "more familiar" nut trees. There was a good selection of nut trees including persian and black walnuts, chestnuts, pecans, scarlet and red oak, filberts ... also seed of heartnuts, hickories and Halts' Hardy almonds, etc. There were several items of baked goods from outstanding nut grower kitchens. The bidding was very brisk without a slow item in the proceedings. Fortunately there was enough stock available that the requirements of most all in attendance were satisfied.
No doubt the trees sold at this Auction will be planted far and wide across Ontario. Your SONG Executive will be most obliged to those who send in reports of how the nut trees perform at various locations.
The Nut Auction finished at approximately 4:00 p.m.
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