Annual Fall Meeting
This years annual fall meeting was held at the Nut Farm of Katherine and Carl Groen
About 30 people were in attendance. A brief discussion about the nut crops at the Grimo planting began the meeting. The Groen's then conducted a tour of their planting of mainly seedling nut trees, established as part of the Tobacco Diversification Program about 6 years ago. Their planting is a model of good orchard management. All of the trees are under drip irrigation, and Fertilizer was fed through the drip system. A herbicide strip about 6 feet wide keeps weeds and grass competition away from the trees. The aisles between the rows were mowed regularly for ease of harvest and to help remove cover for rabbits and mice.
A number of chestnut, hazelnut and heartnut trees were bearing and doing well. Pecans, while growing well were too young to bear. Persian walnut trees were suffering from walnut blight, a bacterial disease, that causes limb dieback and blackened nuts. The bacteria attacks young nuts and new growth. It travels through rain and dews to new sites of infection in Late May, June and early July. A copper spray before each rain helps to control the pest, but thorough coverage is important. Some selections appear to be somewhat resistant to this disease, showing less infection. It is these selections that show some promise for us.
A few trees, particularly heartnuts and chestnuts, appeared to have south-west injury. This is a
problem caused by bright sunny days, followed by freezing nights in March. Sap is encouraged to
flow up the trunk during the day and before it can return to the roots at night, the sap freezes and
splits the trunk. The sap rise can be prevented by maintaining low branches on the south side of
the trees to shade the trunk, while the trees are young and by painting the trunks with a white
latex paint to reflect the sun's rays.
The Commercial Growing Season - 2000
The Four Seasons
Well! Here it is, January of 2001, and all we can do is look back at the season 2000 and try to
enumerate our blessings.,, or tribulations. The growing season started off with a lot of promise...
even early, but then it got into that sophomore slump syndrome... that is coolness cloudiness and
the rains broke out followed by a dry August/September. Fortunately there was a bit of sun/heat
by late August/September and a few of the nut crops ripened up not so bad at all. In fact some
growers who got a bit of the timely August rains, thought it was a reasonably good season. Many
growers had quite salable chestnuts, hazels and the early pecans were pretty fair too. A good
average heartnut crop was realized. However the performance of the English walnuts was a bit
pale this season. The damp, cloudy weather in the early season got the walnut blight going and
many of the nuts turned into black/sticky little balls. Too Bad! Not every year is good for all nut
crops. Fortunately, walnut blight does not build up from one year to another. In fact, it is quite
possible that 2001 could be a banner year for the English walnut! Now doesn't this fact give the
walnut growers an excellent reason for that special form of farm optimism ... "Next year will be
Points of Progress
Tree growing industries, by their nature, come to fruition according to their own timetable and are subject to neither haste nor hurry on the part of human interventionists. Some growers learn to tune into this 'timetable" quite well. This was in evident at the Northern Nut Growers Association meeting in Grantham, Pennsylvania July 2000. The grower tours featured access to the farms of Curanzy, Wells, Dickum and Dravus. In each case, there were 10 or more acres of "middle-aged" nut trees to view. It is always impressive to see growers who have persevered through those starting years and have raised up their trees to the point that you actually have to look up ... up, up, up to see the crop! It is a great thrill to see the success of other growers and there was a lot of it present at the summer 2000 meeting of the Northern Nut Growers.
On December 7,2000 Al McKeown, Dolf Wynia, Ernest Grimo, and Doug Campbell got together at the Simcoe Research Station to evaluate taste and chew heartnuts. There were about 100 samples to analyse. Yes! There were some beautiful samples of heartnut to savour. Cultivars such as Imshu, CW5 and Fodermeir turned out well in the cracking tests as well as the following paper works. It was estimated that an income of $250 per acre could be generated in the fifth year from planting, and the return rate doubles and redoubles each year when the planting is in this age range.
However, the fun that these fellows had on the "counting" day overshadowed all else. Each sampling was approached with care and discussion. .. ."What are you really looking for in the taste of a nut?... "What is the best form for a heartnut shell?" ... "What was the highest percentage kernel that you got in your sample pile?" When all the 100 + score sheets were completed and assembled in "proper order", it was endless the numbers of observations and conclusions which could be drawn. Al McKeown will make a presentation on all this at the February 6 Technical meeting. People who are interested in growing heartnuts have a big treat in store for themselves at this event.
I would be remiss not to report on the social event of the day... the fish and chips specials at Joey's restaurant at Simcoe Ontario mmmrnmm ... marvellous food ... and at least, we thought the discussion was fully up to the quality of the menu! And also, we can report... for those who are concerned... that Dolf Wynia did not consume any of the chips at this event.
Another major point of progress in occurring at the farm of Carl and Katharine Groen... right here in Ontario.. . near Turkey Point. There, they have preserved to the stage that their nut trees are getting into the bearing stage of life. Chestnuts, hazels and in a few years... even northern pecans. In fact the northern pecans are looking vigorous and fine and show few signs of insect disease problems. It is always exciting to see another nut grower entering into the production stage of life and all of this made an excellent fall meeting for the Society of Ontario Nut Growers. May many others follow in the steps of the Groen's and thereby provide excellent venues for future SONG nut meetings.
Wonderful effort! Thank you Katharine and Carl!
Can Adapt Funds SONG Project!
A CanAdapt Small Business marketing project, to run for one year, was approved in September. The project called Marketing Ontario Tree Nuts was initiated on September 30, 2000 and will end on September 29,2001. CanAdapt will supply 85% of the nearly $30,000 project costs, while SONG will pay just 15%.
There are two parts to the project. In the first part, we will be developing a SONG web site. We currently have two addresses, www.songonline.org and more recently we obtained www.songonline.ca. Along with the written information and illustrations, we will have video clips available for surfers to view. Mediaglue of St. Catharines, Ontario, have been contracted to create the site and do the video clips. The second part will be the first of its kind, a Heartnut Cookbook. Chef Robert Smith, who is also a heartnut grower from Sebringville, Ontario, will co-ordinate and test the recipes that will be entered in the cookbook. Other chefs and individuals who wish to enter recipes are invited to participate. All contributors will be recognized in the book.
Ernie Grimo is the coordinator of the project and any correspondence should be directed to him at 979 Lakeshore Rd, R.R.3 Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON LOS 1JO
An executive meeting was held on Dec. 13/00 at the home of Bruce & Irene Thurston. Once again a great meal was provided. The upcoming years activities were discussed, as well as the requirements for the nut planting, possible shows, and other nut related items.
Provided by SONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.