SONG News Fall 1979 no. 15
In this Issue...

7th Annual Meeting of SONG

A great day was in store for those who attended the 7th Annual SONG Meeting at the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority, Hanover, Ontario on July 28, 1979. The day started in the picnic area where members had their lunch ... and watched the swans swim about the miniature lakes nestled between picturesque stands of evergreen trees.

The business meeting was called to order by President John Gordon. John led the discussion regarding the future establishment of a seed-planted nut grove at the Orangeville Reservoir property of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority. Members were invited to bring samples of nuts from their hardiest trees for seeding at the Orangeville property.

Bill Hambleton, Bob Hambleton, Doug Campbell, Ernie Grimo, Roy Metcalfe, Andrew Dixon, Oscar FiIman ... gave brief talks on their various experiences growing nut trees and how these experiences might assist in establishing the Orangeville nut grove.

Andrew Dixon was elected Chairman of a committee to investigate with the Ontario Department of Agriculture the details for construction of black walnut processing and cracking machinery. The members of this committee are: Ted Davy, A. Chappel, T. Sandham, L. Eller and D. Shaw. Jim Penner, a conservation officer with the SVCA, gave a brief talk on their conservation programs and also led the members on a tour of the Stoney Island Nut Grove established near Kincardine in the spring of 1979. It's a pleasure to report that most all (95% or better) of the trees have taken hold and are doing very wel1.

Election And Confirmation of Officers (1979-80)
Roy Metcalfe - President
Charles Rhora - Vice President
Joyce McEwan - Treasurer
Robert Hambleton - Secretary
Douglas Campbell - Editor
Ernest Grimo - Director
F.R. Park - Director
Ron Wakeling - Director
Election And Confirmation of The Nominating Committee (1979-80)
John Gordon - Chairman
Lewis VanPatter - Member
Bill Hambleton - Member
Auditor - G. R. LaRose (1979-80)

The Northern Pecan Is Born Again

Several members of the Northern Nut Growers Association (NNGA) explored the northern reaches of the Mississippi River....Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin.... in October, 1978 to see if any of the original, native pecans still exist in that area. Reports from naturalists of the 1920's and 30's indicate that there were magnificent, old specimens (up to 200 years in age) in that area although they were seriously threatened even at that time by the advance of intensive farming and the flooding caused by the dams on the Mississippi. The NNGA members investigated the adjacent floodplains of the northern Mississippi by car and ventured out onto the islands by canoe. They explored the Mighty River in detail all the way from Burlington to Dubuque, Iowa. Their efforts were well rewarded. Hundreds of pounds of the extra hardy, northern pecan nuts were harvested....from trees capable of surviving temperatures as low as -40°F!

Although these nuts are somewhat smaller in size than the papershell pecans of their southern cousins, there is a major compensation ... the tasty kernels are some of the sweetest known to exist anywhere. These nuts became the focal point of " the 1978-79 NNGA Pecan Seed Distribution Program. The program was so successful and there was such a demand for the nut seed that the offer is being repeated for 1979-80.

Now that the NNGA pecan hunters know where numerous of the northern pecan groves exist, not only are they assured of finding more nuts but also they can extend their exploratory searches further northward. The native pecan generally is found on the floodplains of rivers not far above the water level. Several promising areas such as this in the State of Wisconsin already are marked for exploration in the fall of 1979. Occasional trees of pecan already have been discovered in Wisconsin such as the 80 year old specimen at Prairie de Chien. The pecan hunters are hoping to find a whole grove of pecans at that latitude or even northwards.

The 1979~80 offer of northern pecan seeds is as follows:
(a) A packet of 8 northern pecan seeds for $3.00 postage paid.
(b) An annual membership in the NNGA costs $10.00. New members can receive, as an introductory offer, both a packet of seed and a membership for a total of $12.00 postage paid. Membership benefits include an Annual Report, quarterly newsletters and the opportunity to attend annual meetings.

Send all requests to: The Northern Nut Growers Association, Attn: Mr. R. D. Campbell, R.R.#1, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON Canada.LOS 1JO

The seed nuts will be mailed out in March/April, 1980. Complete growing instructions will be included with each packet. Seeds germinate best in a moist but not soggy soil which has been enriched with generous quantities of sphagnum peat or other well rotted organic matter. A sunny, south-sloping location is best. Seeds planted in early spring will germinate in mid summer at the more northerly locations.

The pecan is a uniquely North American tree. Nothing quite like it has been discovered anywhere else in the world. There used to be numerous native pecan groves in the United States as far north as Dubuque, Iowa. The pressures of intensive farming and the flooding caused by the Mississippi River dams came very close to wiping out this hardiest strain of the pecan. The Pecan Seed Distribution Program of 1978-80 appears to be successful in completely reversing the previous trend. Would you like a share in the adventure of re-establishing the noblest of all tine Nut trees in the latitudes of the True North?

Harvesting and Hulling Nut Crops

Nut crops should be harvested as soon as they drop. Filberts, hazels, Persian walnuts, hickories and sweet chestnuts are self-husking and so require no further treatment before drying. Heartnut and black walnut, however, drop in the hulls which must be removed as soon as possible. If the hulls are allowed to remain for more than a few days, they begin to breakdown resulting in darkened strong tasting kernels. On the other hand, the butternut may be stored in the hulls which split off when the nuts are cracked.

For small quantities a rubber glove and mallet make up the necessary hulling equipment. As the nuts are gathered, a mallet blow or heavy heel will split the husk. The nuts can then be picked up with the gloved hand for collection. Old corn shellers also make excellent walnut hullers. Once hulled the nuts should be washed to remove any remaining fibre and juice. This can be done in a pail or wheelbarrow of water, stirring briskly and rinsing several times. Floating black walnuts may be removed as they are poorly filled nuts.

Once harvested, and if necessary, hulled and washed, all nuts should be dried for a week or more to remove excess moisture which will cause mold and to allow the nuts to acquire a sweet mellow flavour. Nuts should be spread thinly in a dry, shady but airy location. Once dried, they may be stored in a cool dry place until used. Most nuts will maintain good quality for about a year. Hickory will lose flavour sooner, so it is a good idea to crack out the nuts and store the nut meats sealed in the freezer where they will maintain fresh quality for a longer time. Chestnuts should be dried for a few days to remove excess moisture and then stored refrigerated in plastic bags until used.

If the nuts are to be planted, the drying step should be reduced or eliminated. The nuts should be fall planted and mulched with straw. If squirrels are a problem and you prefer to spring plant, mix the nuts with wet peat moss and store in a refrigerator or cool fruit cellar in plastic bags. Keep near freezing but do not freeze solid. Chestnuts should be mixed with peat moss as it comes from the bale before refrigerating. Chestnuts should be moist and firm but not wet since they are very susceptible to mould.
Ernie Grimo, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

Book Review - Tree Nuts: Production, Processing, Products, Second Edition
Author: J. G. Woodroof, University of Georgia
Publisher: AVI Publishing Company
Pages: 731

Professor Woodroof's book describes the major tree nuts of the world including those for the temperate climate of Ontario. There are detailed chapters on production and marketing, nutritive vlaues, uses in cooking including numerous recipes, cracking equipment, processing nut products including roasting, salting and production of confections. There are numerous black and white pictures giving the story of tree nuts right from the farm to the finished products. Cultural techniques are discussed covering germination of nuts, growing seedlings, grafting, fertilization, pruning, insects and diseases and their controls, irrigation etc. An interesting reference section covers commercial grading and standards, measurements and conversion tables.

Tree Nuts is a most informative, readable and attractive book which is worthy of a place in any serious nut growers library.
List price: $45.00 (U.S. Dollars) Inquiries may be directed to: AVI Publishing Company, P. 0. Box 831, Westport CT USA 06880

Letters to the Editor

Recently I wrote the Department of Agriculture in Ottawa requesting information on nut trees. They referred me to your address. Please give me details on the cultural requirements for growing hazel nuts. Also could you supply me with sources of literature on the growing of nut trees.
Stan Gratton, Vancouver BC

I germinated a number of nut seeds this spring by using the procedure of soaking them in water for several days and then planting them out in the garden. The results in percentages germination are as follows: Persian Walnuts 100%; Pecans 70%; Heartnuts 100%; Hickory 30%. I planted some heartnuts in the garden without soaking and the germination percentage was 30%. It appears that reasonable germination success can be obtained with spring planted nut seed and the success is notably improved by soaking the nuts in water.
Allan R. Job, Ile Perrot QC

I'm interested In establishing one-half an acre of nut trees ... mostly of the hazel and walnut family. Already I've got 2 specimens, 2 years old of butternut from Granby, Quebec. So far three of the northern pecans from the seed program have germinated. I'm very interested in getting a line on sources of nut trees which may do well in my area.
J.D. Sankey, Cumberland ON

Last spring we secured 25 northern pecan nuts from the Seed Program. To date 10 have sprouted and they are doing nicely. We have further interests in securing hickory seeds for planting ... the local wild ones are quite small.
Harrison Scott, Napanee ON

Editor's note: It has been discovered via the returned Pecan questionnaires that several items have favoured the germination of the northern pecan seeds:
(a) Rich, moist (but not soggy) soil which has been well endowed with sphagnum peat moss or other well-rotted organic matter.
(b) A sunny, south-facing slope. The warmer temperatures coupled with the right moisture levels seem to flush out the seedlings.
(c) Your Attention Please: If pecan nuts do not germinate the first season, there is still a fair chance that they will germinate in the second season ... and the good news is that those seeds which germinate the second season may be better adapted to northern climates than those which germinate the first year!

Little Nut Growers

It's a well known fact that young children are inclined to imitate their parents. This principle has an interesting application at your Editor's establishment where I try to operate a modest, part-time tree nursery....as well as a family of four children. Each spring as I'm digging nursery stock, there are always some trees which are regarded as rejects....being either too feeble, wounded or even dead. Wel1 1 The little fellers snap up all these rejects and take them to their sand pile where they carefully plant them, water them and tend to them throughout the summer in various unique ways. And would you guess???? Numerous of the rejects take hold and go on to flourish in glorious fashion.

Naturally there is an explanation for all this. My tree nursery operations are located in rich soil, doubly endowed with peat moss and other carefully controlled fertilizations. Some individual trees will find this just too much and when they are moved to a drier, thin, poor soil....ah, Shangri-La!

Then too, there's the Pecan Program experience. All through the winter and spring of 1978-79, several of the SONG executive were busy packaging and mailing pecan seed nuts. Meanwhile one of the little fellers, unknown to the busy people, slipped away with a handful of pecan seeds....and planted them with care (as only a six year old would do) under a tattered evergreen (spreading juniper) by the back door of the house. Then Nature was left alone to do its thing and one warm summer's day, the little feller came bursting into the house with a shattering message:

Little feller: "THEY'RE UP!"
Dad: "What do you mean,,,they 're up?"
Little feller: "THE PECANS ... 7 OUT OF 9 OF THE SEEDS I PLANTED ARE UP ... THEY'RE OUT THERE BY THE BACK DOOR ..."

Well sure enough ... and what do you know about that ... and he didn't even read the planting directions!

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