SONG News Fall 1994 no. 45
In this Issue...

Bigger and Better Events in 1994

Yes, there was a SONG Auction in spring of 1994 and the after action will in some cases carry on for 200 plus years! It's true! A nut tree planted in 1994 may still be alive and well in the year 2194! I hope all of us will still be around to celebrate the bicentenary year! Does all of this sound too fantastic? Well, not for the nut trees which were sold on April 16, 1994. Just a few years ago there was a great blaze of glory when the Parliament Oak of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario failed to hold up its weight and fell over. It was believed to be over 400 years old by actual count of the number of rings on its fingers, or something. Thus, you can see the 200 year approximation is just a first guess.

The summer SONG meeting was a combined event on July 30, 1994 starting at the nut planting of Bob Hambleton and family and winding up at the action-packed Campberry Farm with Doug Campbell as the second host. What more could be said beyond the fact that they were absolutely terrific meetings!

The SONG fall meeting was an activity of a new and different kind. The Action took place at the tree seed extraction plant of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Angus, Ontario on October 22, 1994. The day was a beautiful, shirt-sleeve occasion. Grand even for October! (The weather people have a special deal going for the nut growers!) It was a good adventure to see how they separate millions of pounds of spruce, pine, etc., seeds from piles and piles of cones. If all of those zillions of seeds resulted fn trees, you'd expect that in a few years, we wouldn't see much of the scenic distance from any of our windows. The separation equipment provided some insight and thoughts on how to construct processing/separation equipment for the after harvest handling of nuts.

Nut Adventurers Have Big Payoff

SONG members who went to the August 7 -10, 1994 meeting at Morgantown, West Virginia got more excitement and thrills than just watching the mountain scenery go by ... although that was entertaining too! One of my favourite moments came when Scott Schlarbaum gave a talk on the many tree growing experiments which the Tennessee Valley Authority did over a period of decades and decades. There were all of the usual nut trees represented as well as persimmons, pawpaw, mulberry and more. Some of the old glass-mounted slides were taken from the ancient files and shown to growers captured in wonderment. It's amazing to see how they did things in the 20's -50's. All of this is still in existence at the planting fields at NORRIS, Tennessee. Care has reverted to the natural condition for the last years but it's something to see.

Growing Filberts On The Tonawanda Lake Bed Near Buffalo NY
John H. Gordon, Jr., 1385 Campbell Blvd., Amherst, NY 14228

I have been growing filbert hybrids for thirty years. The oldest trees are Geneva Experiment Station seedlings given out by Prof. George Slate as his best nuts. This experience has been more interesting than rewarding due to the need in NY to grow a very special tree. My observations come after trying to gather the bumper harvest of 1994.

Yearling filberts are ornamental like the best fruiting varieties. Thus, a person cannot select the best trees in their first year or years of growth. This veneer of ornamentality disappears in the years seedlings sprout multiple stems and begin flowering and fruiting. If ornamentality does not return with fruiting, the crop or the fill is insufficient. Second year seedlings have single stems with large glossy green leaves. Laroka tree filbert and Blade filbert show this health while fruiting. They return to the ornamental quality of yearlings.

It is a puzzle, not that ornamental trees are our best producers, but that yearling quality is a veneer. We know that yearlings have advantages of nourishment from a food sack which supplies food and micronutrients. They grow in top soil which is very fertile. Yearlings grow in the warm humid air layer just above the ground surface. These conditions are outgrown until later in life when roots travel to water and nutrients. Then the genetics of the tree and its mycorrhiza must break out the nutrients and transport them to leaves for manufacturing, keeping leaves turgid. During hot sunny days an excess of water must be available for removing heat from stems and leaves.

I have seen filberts struggling in clay soil broken down from shale. Leaf loss matches transplants which suffer dry conditions. They lose their leaves, leaf again, and may lose leaves a second time. Filbert cuttings, taken with a bit of root, will prosper through a dry summer if set in spring as dormant cuttings and enclosed in the humid cell of air of a tree tube shelter.

Filberts prosper in a maritime climate. I fear you are thinking about Turkey with its supposed dry climate being the leading exporter of filberts. However, most of Turkey's filberts come from the humid Black Sea coast. Native hazel defends against drought and blight by hugging the ground where humidity and rich ground are optimized. Native hazel bushes are typically three to five feet tall with eight feet likely a hybrid. They spread sideways with stems from stolens which loop underground into moist, fertile, less shaded areas. Like raspberries the centers of these clumps lose vigour as the new stems move off. Natives can respond to drought and filbert blight with this manoeuver. The stolen driven shoots repeat the ornamental veneer of yearlings while the primacanes fruit and slowly decline, or quickly decline during drought.

We need tree selections built for ornamental vigour. I have looked with envy upon Barcelona filbert and maritime regions which can grow it. It can be shaped into a single stem tree with deep roots, much like the filberts I am keeping. The Willamette Valley growers in Oregon produce filberts commercially without irrigation during dry summers using Barcelona. Their trick is to grow in a mild climate on ten feet of sandy, root-penetrated soil. The water holding ability of silty sand is 2.5 inches of water per foot of soil. Filbert or any fruit orchards need two inches of water per week to maximize production. We are supposed to average an inch of rain a week, but don't count on it. Surface roots run out of water in July and August as forecast rain gets lost. A tree with deep roots on a deep soil is crucial. A mixed planting with tall trees to break the wind and add humidity is a benefit. Pines in the mix add winter moderation and aerosols which ward off disease. Also, pines help acidify the soil.

My soil is silt sand with clam shells going down 6 to 10 feet to lake silt. Tonawanda Creek delivered this upper soil as the creek changed its course, steadily moving north. Three feet down there is a dry-out zone where lenses of carbonate are deposited. This layer is pierced where a few lines of drain tile are installed four to six feet down. Carbonates leached much lower at creek banks where native chestnut used to grow. Getting drain tile down ten feet down will be a problem. The yellow soil below the eight inch average depth of dark topsoil is high in magnesium and calcium. If I use fish emulsion on planting beds and as a monthly foliar spray, exposed subsoil grows healthy seedlings. Without fish emulsion, and with only granular fertilize, seedlings turn yellow, stunt, and frost heave on yellow subsoil. Thus, my plan is to continue foliar feeding to get roots functioning throughout the tile drained soil. Trees like Laroka should continue to produce well and benefit from the army of plants and animals that can penetrate a well drained soil which is activated by fertilizer from the sea. I also use horse litter when available to add organic acids to the soil, and granular fertilizer to maintain healthy turf.

1994 was a year when the branchlets of most bushes held nuts. Some 12 by 12 by 12 foot bushes held several five gallon buckets. These super producers were the same bushes marked for bearing most years. Evaluating nuts, which I do under the tree, cutting dud bushes and gathering filberts overloaded me with too much hand labour. Harvesting on shares, marking bushes to be cut later, and delaying harvest of tree hazel hybrids by not shaking, got most of the nuts harvested. The reason tree hazel hybrids stay in the grove after ripe is that they are recessed in hulls which are bristly, sticky, and often dusty with some old spores. Blue jays and raccoons prefer open husk filberts. I even shot a woodchuck which was cracking and eating filberts.

While marking and cutting bushes it struck me that most tall, grey stem, single crown bushes were saved while red stem bushes were cut. Good nut quality causes bushes to be marked for saving. Typically, small bushes which run suckers from the original crown have grey stems, but nuts are small and much like native. In any case, running bushes are impossible to keep. Also, tree roots usually mirror their branches, so I don't think running types drive roots deep. Red stem bushes have thinner bark which is shinier at two inches diameter and less likely to fisher into corky plates. Red stem bushes usually have watery kernels which shrivel. The best of the saved bushes have hard kernels which melt during chewing into butter rather than breaking into sandy bits. You can talk while eating melting filberts, but sandy types bring on coughing. Roasting would have gained the melting kernel texture.

Although removing bushes with poor nuts makes for much more pleasant harvesting, mechanical harvesting is necessary. I discovered a landscape machine called a Rock Hound. It is like a five foot wide conveyor belt of 1 by 5 inch steel cells like the steel link mat used to clean and drain shoes at building entries, or did before spike heals came along. Tines are 1.5 inches long. Tines drag the ground and grab anything 1.3 inches diameter and greater. Because they are staggered to strike the ground at .75 inch centers, filberts are also moved along when the belt is laid flat on the ground, covering a 5 by 4 foot area. This mat rotates opposite to the travel of the tractor, flicking stones, earth lumps, wood, and things with more weight than friction, like nuts, into a pan. After an area is dragged the turf has a smooth finish. Mounds of earth or clumps of grass are ground flush with the general lay of the land. After fitting turf with this machine nuts which drop in the next week can be blown or raked into containers. Oregon growers groom their soil to be flat and bare for harvest. I think we will have to contend with much more grass and thus need this type machine, or nets.

It is question time, or comment time because I am still looking for answers.

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