Reflections From Orangeville
More than thirty SONG members gathered at Orangeville, Ontario on October 1, 1983 to view and evaluate the seed planted nut grove. The day was a trifle overcast but there was good news at the nut grove. There were specimens to show for every type of nut seed which was planted.... not bad considering that several winters have been testing out the hardiness of all comers. As a class, several items were standouts: heartnuts and blackwalnuts. These items are doing superbly well. Some of the heartnuts are as much as 6 feet high or more. Some of the hazels are 1-2 feet high with the occasional one 4-6 feet high. Several of these larger ones had small crops of nuts! Bob Baker, Resources Technician for the Credit River Conservation Authority was specially interested in these and he carefully preserved the nuts as "proof" for an upcoming meeting of the Authority's board of directors. It was interesting to note too that pecans are surviving the Orangeville winters. The hickories are still small but struggling to get through and above the sod growth. The Persian walnuts were coming on vigorously although many showed dieback in previous winters. Perhaps when they get up aways, more of those will show hardiness right out to the tips of the twigs.
All in all it is an extremely successful venture and Bob Baker is to be complimented for his excellent follow-up and care on this planting. A number of SONG members returned to this planting several weeks after the SONG meeting to assist Bob in labelling the "most desirable trees" on the basis of hardiness and related traits. Since many of the rows are actually quite thick with trees, the Authority will start in the spring to move some of the extra trees to other locations on the Authority property....another indication of the tremendous success of this project.
Commercial Returns For Nut Growing in Ontario
Several years ago Ontario announced a "BILD" program to assit new industries to get started in Ontario. The following letter was written in response to the BILD initiative. It is necessarily a short treatment of the subject but it does give some idea of the challenges and rewards of nut growing.
Society of Ontario Nut Growers
Organized in 1972 to promote interest in nut growing
To: Frank Miller, Treasurer of Ontario
From: R. Douglas Campbell
cc: Vice-Chairman and Members of BILD
Minister of Agriculture for Ontario
The 1981 01 27 statement of Ontario's BILD objectives evokes enthusiasm and excitement. I applaud your encouragements to expand and consolidate Ontario's agriculture ... item ... "to replace products now imported." An area in which significant replacement can be achieved is in nut production. Let me explain:
A major reason why nut growing has not come into prominence in the past is mostly lack of enthusiastic pursuit. It does take 4-6 years from establishment of a nut orchard to realize much return, but then the farmer has an investment which will yield returns for the next 40 to 100 years! The design mechanics for establishing a nut growing industry in Ontario consist of: (A) Fine-tuning the horticultural technology for nut growing; (B) Providing some of the front-end money to encourage growers to make a long term investment. BILD can facilitate the development as follows:
|One full-time research position||$60,000|
|Related support services (technician/secretary)||$30,000|
|Nursery stock, growing supplies, land costs,|
|Promotional activities/literature||$ 8,000|
|Travel and Conferences||$ 5,000|
|Initial acreage target||5000 acres|
|Acreage by 1997||10,000 acres|
|Initial number of farmers||200|
|Farmers participating by 1977||400|
|Annual Acreage Improvement|
First nut production comes from plantings which are in their fifth year and beyond:
|Year 5||100 pounds/acre|
|Year 10||2200 pounds/acre|
|Year 15||3000 pounds/acre|
The farmer can expect a return of about $1.00 per pound in the shell. If the farmer retails the nuts directly to the public a selling price of about $1.50 per pound may be expected (both in 1981 dollars).
financial Returns for Ontario Farmers
The following gross financial returns may be realized by participating farmers if a vigorous program is underway by spring of 1983:
|Year||Annual Farm Production of Tree Nuts|
in 1981 Dollars $milllions
Return on Government (BILD) Investment
The bottom-line figures for return on the government investment versus increases in farm income are in the following chart (1981 dollars):
from Nut Production $millions
|Cumulative Net Deficit(-)|
or Surplus (+) $millions
Financing from the Farmer's Viewpoint
The average annual costs per acre for maintaining a nut tree farm are summarized in the following table in 1981 dollars:
|Carrying charge on land/buildings|
Land at $3000 per acre and
10% return on investment
|Carrying Charges on Nursery Stock|
$1400 per acre at 10%
|Carrying Charges on Equipment||$100|
|Total Operating Cost/Acre||$900|
The Gross Return per acre for a mature nut orchard is $3000 per year. This gross income compares with the following for commonly grown Ontario crops:
|Crop||Gross Income/Acre per year|
The incremental financial prospects for farmers are summarized in the following chart. A compound interest rate of 101 has been used for calculating amounts. Assume that activity starts in 1983 01 01 and that debt/profit levels are calculated for the ends of the years thereafter in 1981 dollars. This chart covers only the initial 5000 acres planted. The second 5000 acres would add a similar pattern starting in the year 2002.
Incremental Returns for Farmers
|Year||Debt Carried by|
Deficit (-) or|
Profit (+) $millions
An Interesting Example
Consider a young person going into farming as follows:
|(a)||Buys a 100 acre farm for||$300,000|
|(b)||Buys machinery worth||$100,000|
|(c)||Buys nursery stock worth||$140,000|
|(d)||The person's living can be supported annually|
with a net income of (before taxes)
|(e)||The person's net worth from nut growing|
after 30 years could be as much as (before taxes)
Few young families may be willing to live on only $15,000 net income annually before income taxes. However the given example assumes that the farm is planted only to nut trees. Prudent farming procedure demands that the acreage be intercropped (strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, lettuce, etc.) for the first 5-8 years. A net income of $20,000-^0,000 annually before taxes would not be unusual for such conditions. The variety of practical examples can take many forms. (All finances in 1981 dollar equivalents.)
Although nut growing is a non-traditional crop for Ontario, it appears that a governmental stimulation of $13.32 millions may create an industry of $589.2 millions over the next 40 years. I trust that BILD will find these odds irresistably attractive.
Please feel free to contact me if you require further information.
R. Douglas Campbell
And What Happened to The BILD Submission?
There were several responses from Cabinet Ministers and BILD Committee members concerning the submission on nut growing. The correspondence lasted about 6 months. The ultimate message was that perhaps there is not enough known or sufficient momentum at this time in Ontario to warrant a major push into nut growing. It reminds me a bit of James Picard of the Delhi area and his ventures into peanut growing. For a number of years he was a one man show and achieved many things in the research and development of peanut growing. Now that he has proved his point, there are several other growers who are getting into the act and there are as many as 1200 acres which are now under peanut cultivation in Ontario. This success has brought forward some support in research from the Ministry of Agriculture particularly in the last few years.
There is no doubt that any new thrust in agricultural development has to have wide support from both private and governmental sources. Nut growers have to demonstrate the potential of their economic contribution before much attention will be extended from publicly supported agencies. In this instance it should be remembered that Canada now imports approximately $80 millions worth of tree nuts per year and a roughly equal quantity of peanuts and peanut products. A significant portion of this production could be supplied from Ontario sources. Perhaps some of the commercially oriented SONG members may wish to take this issue further and a good place to start is with the following: The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Queens Park, Toronto, Ontario.
The Sweet Chestnut
Among the nut trees, the Chinese chestnut has the greatest potential of becoming a commercial producer in Southern Ontario and some of the northern states. It has already been introduced commercially in a few south-eastern states. Like other nut trees it is largely neglected by experimental farms and professional breeders. The task of breeding and selecting commercial cultivars has been largely left up to amateurs like the late J.U. Gellatly who selected a number of Chinese chestnut cultivars, the most outstanding for Ontario being Layeroka. Layeroka has proven its superiority to all comers in nut size, production and flavour. Locally, it demonstrates what a fine chestnut cultivar is capable of doing. Unfortunately, one cultivar does not form an industry. Other selections are needed as pollinators and alternate choices.
It is Layeroka that inspired my work with the selection and breeding of superior chestnuts. Starting in 1973 I planted about one hundred mixed origin Chinese chestnuts in a trial planting, with the intention of identifying superior seedlings and weeding out the trees that don't measure up to expectations. Grafted cultivars were also planted including Layeroka, Crane, Nanking and Eaton. Only Layeroka over the years has performed well and has become my standard of comparison. Now in 1983, only a handful of the original seedlings remain, with only one or two indicating superior promise.
I soon turned my hand to controlled pollinations to improve my chances of developing superior selections. Information about good parent trees is sparse, though Gellatly had relative success with a seed source that produced Layeroka along with several other selections. I decided that Layeroka was my best bet as a reliable parent, and would be the basis for most of my breeding efforts. Other breeding interest would lean towards making crosses with apparently blight resisting American chestnuts in hopes of obtaining pure American blight resistant trees, a very long shot at best.
I busily collected grafting material from all chestnut sources that had hopes of meeting my breeding objectives. Though I am still collecting varieties, I now have ten Chinese, seven American/Chinese hybrid and eight American chestnut selections to be used as parent material.
In selecting my breeding objectives, I decided that my first challenge would be to match and improve on Layeroka. A second objective is to develop improved hardiness coupled with blight resistance, thus extending the range of the Chinese chestnut. For this, I chose Earl Douglass' American x Chinese Fl hybrids to work with. In selecting wild American chestnut parents for blight resistance, I chose only trees that obtained a diameter of eighteen inches (45 cm) or more, and displayed blight resisting characteristics. This does not prove the existence of blight resistance but offers a chance that some generic trait is operating to produce resistance.
I have been making hand pollinations for about five years now and have replanted and expanded the chestnut trial planting with my own crosses. Each year I make more crosses, and add the material to the orchard, and each year I evaluate existing material and remove inferior seedlings. This slow but steady process hopefully moves me closer to my goals.
Wide variations occur in the seedling offspring of the pollinations. Some are stunted or low growing while others are vigorous and upright. Leaf size, bark colour along with the other characteristics allow one to speculate on the eventual worth of the seedling. The poorest extreme never leave the nursery and either die or are destroyed.
Crosses made to date include Layeroka x Crane and Layeroka x Douglass Manchurian, attempts to cross two Chinese selections. Layeroka x (Douglass Manchurian x American) crosses are efforts to backcross good American hybrids to Layeroka. This is attempted to improve the hardiness, maintain blight resistance and the good Layeroka characteristics. Layeroka x Watertown 3 and Layeroka x Kelly American will produce F1 crosses that should have moderate blight resistance, greater hardiness and sweet large nuts. Kelly American x Watertown 3 American will produce pure American crosses with a chance of having some genetic resistance inbred, since these two have so far been the most blight resisting parents.
I eagerly look forward to their first crops. Anticipation spurs me onward. The sweet realization of
a new find wipes out any remorse felt for earlier failures and lost hopes.
Ernie Grimo, R.R.#3, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON LOS 1JO
What's the Value of a Good Nut?
Several weeks ago your SONG Editor had an opportunity to visit the Eaton's Centre in Toronto. The basement market area was doing a bonanza of business and as usual, it looked like a tropical paradise of tasty temptations otherwise located in the great snowbelt of the north. All SONG members should visit this place as a lovely, mid-winter break experience. However, aside from the euphoria of the moment, there were some interesting facts about nut growing obvious at the market....especially the prices for some of the more desirable nuts and seeds:
|Product||Price Per Kilogram|
While it is not suggested that we can grow in the north such delicacies as Brazil or pistachio nuts, there are some interesting things which we can do. For example, the heartnut would be a satisfactory substitute for the Macadamia for many people. Also, now that it has been demonstrated that pecan can mature nuts in Ontario, this is another interesting prospect even if the nut size is smaller than the related pecans which originate further south. Then of course there is the Chinese chestnut and....
Provided by SONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.