SONG News Fall 1996 no. 49

Meetings Past and Productive

The SONG Auction of April 20,1996 was a profitable and planting success. More than 200 trees were sold and over 60 people took part in the bidding. This activity took place at the Civic Garden Centre, Don Mills, Ontario.

The Niagara Nut Grove was revisited on July 27, 1996 to have the Annual Meeting of SONG. The officers for the 1996-97 operating year were elected as shown on the front page of this newsletter.

A motion was moved/seconded/carried to make available about $400.00 to cover replacement costs of nut trees at the Simcoe (OMAFRA) research planting. Approximately 5% of the trees from the 1995 research planting had died over the winter and it was wanted to bring this experimental planting back to full strength.

Plans were discussed to take the SONG promotional display to major community events such as The Beamsville Fair, The Simcoe Fair and The International Plowing match at Selkirk, Ontario.

The 1996-97 Nominating Committee was formed of the following: Hugh McEwan, Chair; James Harvey and Hank Zuzek.

John Gordon introduced the topic of hulling black walnuts throughout the districts of Ontario to increase usage of this prolific and commonly available nut. Up to $1500.00 was suggested as a resource for obtaining/renting appropriate equipment. All members were encouraged to give some thought/action to this subject.

Muriel Braham recounted her efforts in setting aside some property in the Grafton area as a wetlands sanctuary. Several nut trees contributed by SONG members have been planted along the higher fringes of these wetlands.

A very enjoyable tour was taken of the Niagara Nut Grove. The trees planted by SONG in the late seventies have reached good height and productivity. Even the northern pecans had a good crop. There were lots of hazels, heartnuts, butternuts and some of the chestnuts were still in flower! It made one hungry to anticipate what bounties might come in the fall harvests. The Niagara Nut Grove is an excellent success story for SONG and the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. Congratulations NPCA and many, many more returns!

The fall meeting of SONG took place at the Simcoe Horticultural Experiment Station at Simcoe (OMAFRA). Several growers displayed and described samples of nuts/persimmons/pawpaws which they had grown. Chestnuts were prominent at this meeting and some of them got roasted on the (almost) open fire. A great taste! After the indoor session, the activity transferred to the experimental nut grove at the Station. This planting contains heartnuts and chestnuts... about one-half an acre each. Everyone was impressed with the good growth this planting has made in the past two growing seasons. The grove produced a handful of nuts in 1996 which was only its second year! Note that a number of heartnut/chestnut seedlings were included in the planting to provide the ever-so-necessary pollen for the grafted trees. So...this experimental research is showing very promising results even at this early stage and warrants further support from SONG and its members.

The August 1996 Northern Nut Growers' Association meeting took place at Davis, California. Seven Ontario people took to the air or their cars to attend. There were 3 solid days of tours to all sorts of nutty things. One tour included a look at a REAL, full-time, Persian/English walnut ranch. You can tell that they meant business by their harvesting equipment alone...25 tons a day of harvesting/drying/shipping! Now that's REAL production! They had wagons which held a couple of tons of nuts and also had the capacity to "dry" the nuts on the way to market. REAL ingenuity! Several types of tree-shaking and harvesting equipment were viewed. Another day took us to a couple of pistachio plantations. They are very sturdy, compact, healthy looking trees and in 1996 they were having the harvest of the decade. Awesome! Pistachio nuts may be born in bunches of up to 100! They make quite a sight as they ripen up to their sunshine yellow against the dark green leaves. A half of a day was spent at an almond orchard...a truly huge one...an orchard which stretched from horizon to horizon. The nuts were in the final stages of ripening when we visited. It was very easy to crack open the shells with one's fingers. The taste of fresh almonds was truly delicious...A taste of a lifetime which unfortunately is not quite the same as for the almonds which you buy at the super market. The trip through the Blue Diamond processing plant revealed that the almond crop is worth about $700 millions per year to California growers. Now that's REAL money! Just imagine what the potential is for Ontario growers to produce nuts and sell them even on just a local basis!??

Retirement
The publication of the Spring, 1997 edition of SONG will mark the 25th year that your Editor has been in this position. That's sufficient experience for me and I shall be "retiring" as of the 1997 annual summer meeting. SONG members should observe too, that most of the other executives of this organization are original charter members and they may be thinking of "retiring" in the near future as well. All of this speaks to the matter of renewing the organizational ranks and refilling the executive positions with new/young/vigorous faces. The best way of learning is by DOING IT! There is no doubt that the executives are in the position to find out a great deal about nut growing. It's simply a case of learning as you go. Now then... so that the next generation of SONG know where the previous has been... and what future activities are possible...here is a summary of what the nut growing world looks like from here:

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