SONG News June 2001 no. 60
In this Issue ...

Techtalks
The February 2001 technical meeting was honoured with the presence of three of the best professionals in the tree crops industries.

Todd Leuty gave an overview of the nut growing industry of the Oregon/West coast areas. Various slides showed machinery for harvest, husking, drying and shelling of nuts. All of this in addition to several views of tree crops management gave those in attendance a lot to consider.

Adam Dale has taken up the struggle/ challenge of developing a blight free timber type of tree, of sweet chestnut for Ontario.

The result is expected to be mostly American chestnut in species background influence for blight resistance. Adam's considerable background training and experience in breeding projects became very apparent during the presentation and many growers were asking questions afterward.

Al McKeown provided another progress report on the sweet chestnut/heartnut establishment project, which is located at the Simcoe experiment station. Production and nut size data was presented for both chestnut and heartnut. Study continues on the matter of chestnut tree death to reduce the relatively high death rates in the first year after transplanting ... and somewhat lesser death rates in the 2nd and 3rd years. The heartnut kernel qualities were noticeably high in the 2000 crop. One of the heartnut trees gives nuts which approach 40% in kernel weight ... perhaps a world class first in that respect! Imagine!

So ... the nut growers of Ontario are extremely fortunate to have such dedicated professionals working on their behalf. Many thanks to Todd ... Adam ... Allan and may the nut growers continue with appreciative support ... .. Doug Campbell

The Commercial Growing Season - 2001
How Did We Get Here From There?

When we look back to the year 2000 growing season, the most noticeable characteristic was the early spring start. The crocus bloom in 2000 was almost a month ahead of 2001. Now that's a difference! However, the early 2000 start fizzled. Summer turned out to be rather cool ... damp in some places and in general nust have given the global warning worriers something to hope for at last. The extended dampness of the first half of summer 2000 was devastating for the Carpathian walnut crop. Walnut blight was the culprit and it was everywhere. Most of the nutlets had become infected with the black spots and had dropped off the trees by July Ist. those nuts which stayed on the trees until September were a mass of jlack mush by harvest time. Not appetizing! So, the Carpathians didn't give much of a crop in 2000. It took at least 3 blight sprays to make a difference and up to 6 sprays to realize a good crop. For those last two sprays, a bit of walnut husk fly remedy had to be added to the mixture as well. All of this is the reason why some nut growers believe that the Carpathian is one of the most challenging to realize a regular crop in Ontario. Mind you, in the 1999 crop year you could harvest pretty good Carpathian walnuts with no sprays at all! What a difference! If you're content to harvest a crop of these walnuts once in every 2 of 3 years, then you can grow them "naturally" and without chemical complications.

The 2000 season also saw a high level of chestnut blight as well as hazel blight. Extended wet seasons tend to do that sort of thing. In any event, there were some good hazel crops ... as well as abundant chestnuts.

The winter of 2000-2001 was a bit early, long but not very cold. The mid-winter minima were surprisingly mellow ... perhaps reaching the -16C levels in the Niagara Region. Now that's balmy compared to some winters of -30C! Yes, there can be big differences from one year to the next. This last winter did pile up some impressive snow banks in places. When snow sits on the ground for more than 6 weeks at a time, the mice do come out to play ... or perhaps I should say "under". The mice were feasting for weeks on the young trees ... under the snow and the rabbits could stand on the snow banks and eat plump and tasty buds up to the 5 foot level. All of this points to the need for applying a bit of mouse bait in the fall and keeping a beagle for winter evening howls in the snow.

So ... here we are into spring of 2001 ... starting late but thanks to more than a few 25C+ days, we have caught up to the precocious start of 2000. Early spring has run a bit dry ... but that will be good for the marginally drained soils. Soil temperatures should warm up quickly ... keep an eye on the possibility for Verticillium wilt ... it all goes from here?

Pecans Continue to Roll in Ontario
The 2000 fall harvest of pecan was rather interesting. First of all many of the trees had very full crops. In spite of the 'funny' summer season - low heat units, much cloudiness, spring frosts etc., the nuts matured/filled quite well. This bodes for good future prospects. Not many seasons will be cooler than 2000.

Pecan has no 'life-threatening' diseases in Ontario and the few insect problems can be handled with minimum intervention. In many areas, pecans can be grown quite satisfactorily with no sprays at all.

Some of the best selections of pecan for 2000 were items such as Snaps Early, Carlson #3, Cornfield, NC-14 and quite a few others made acceptable showing. It should be only a few years now until the 'Grown in Ontario' mark should appear on some pecan products. How about that?
Douglas Campbell

April Auction - Buyers Market
SONG had another successful annual nut auction meeting at the Civic Garden Centre in Toronto on April 21. Everything that was brought by sellers was sold. As usual there were more trees and other items to sell than there were buyers. Bargains were scooped up by the handful. SONG netted $558 from the sale and after the expense of the hall rental, realized a profit of $344. This income will help to keep the dues down as it has over the years and also assist with our funded projects.

Thanks go out to our auctioneer Ernie Grimo, our tellers John Flys, Andre Flys and Marion Grimo who keep the records of the sales and our several local growers

Memories From Cold Storage
Many interesting stories about nut growing have come my way in the 55 years since I took first notice of what made trees different from each other. When I was enjoying an early mid-life crisis ... caused by things other than nut growing ... I heard of the curious case of the Hutsulian Pointies. Stories from the hand of the Rev. Paul Crath drew this one to my attention. If names tell stories, this one seemed to be full of all sorts of connotations of nuts hard and pointed, a challenge to the nut cracker ... and perhaps originating in Africa. Therefore it was a surprise to me that the "pointies" were claimed to originate in the Polish/Ukrainian area ... loosely referred to as the Carpathian Mountains/ Highlands etc.

Some stories at point of origin really don't seem to have enough detail/ substance to be worth follow-up in time, effort and expense. So, this story just slept in my mind for years and years ... possibly as many as 25! It's amazing that Alzheimer's doesn't clear away mental clutter of this sort ... but instead picks on far more useful and recent information.

Then as fate would have it. I came across a gratuitous mother lode on the origin and possible fate of the pointies from Hutsul. If you let your mind wander a bit the word itself may come from such Ukrainian/Prussian/Polish derivatives as "hut" as in modest dwelling and "zul" which through various evolutions of language may have meant alone. (Take a trip down language lane to words such as sole and seulement etc.). So ... it is quite possible that the village of origin of those nuts may have been quite small. This possibility may account for the mysterious location never appearing in the history books again ... to my knowledge. For example ... from the ordeals of World War II, there is no hint of a great battle for the village of Hutsul and the nut trees it may have contained.

Now I find out for the first time that Rev. Paul Crath observed the Hutsulian pointies for the first time in a town called Kossiv and the Hutsuld are described as originating in Galicia, Bukovina ... and roughly speaking the Carpathian Mountain region. Apparently the Hutsuls were not dedicated world free traders and it is possible that little more than the pointed nuts sneaked out to confirm the Hutsulian existence. Rath described the Hutsulian pointies as queer looking things ... narrow, long ... like spears with very rough shells ... in shape like Canadian butternuts or Mongolian butternut ... the Rev. Crath goes on to say. Perhaps those Hutsuls could have used free trade after all! However, Crath also claimed that the pointies were ... not very hard to crack.

The Rev. Paul Crath summed up his experience with the "pointies" ... as still being a mystery to him! Since Rev. Crath spent several years in the Carpathian region and collected several tons of nuts for export to North America, it is unlikely that this mystery of the "pointies" is going to be resolved any time soon ... or without a great outpouring of effort. Perhaps it is even better to not resolve this mystery as it does give us something to think about. However from written words of Rev. Crath we can extract a number of one-liners which have some instructional value:

President's Message
As I look to the summer meeting the thought occurred to me ... What a fine family we raised. Our ambitious offspring ECSONG and determined cousins in the Canadian Chestnut Council, they are committed as we are to promote nut tree culture. Similarly we have many fine, productive nut tree cultivars across a wide spectrum of species. This is no time to gloat though as Winston Churchill said "This is not the end, it is not the beginning of the end but it is perhaps the end of the beginning". After Thirty years we must look farther down the road. Look to the day when we don't have to go to a museum to see nut trees. The day when nut trees are a common sight but not then taken for granted.

It was humbling to have a horticulture instructor describe Black Walnut as a weed that would kill all your plants (I say try to grow any thing under a mature Norway Maple) and he lumped it together with Manitoba Maple and Chinese Elm. Another instructor advised the class to use the biggest trees practical. Years ago I told an experienced gardener at work, I was growing some apple trees from seed. You'll never get any thing from those. Ten years later one twelve foot tree has blossomed. I might find out soon. It's been a long time since government seriously developed new apple cultivars. A web page I read in the past year suggested that ten thousand trees must be screened to find one, better then cultivars now available. Remember now, apples have been bred for hundreds of years, we have only thirty years under our belts. If one hundred nut trees are grown it is likely we will produce positive results. The USDA has a program for breeding Pecan trees in Texas (this program was almost cancelled a few years back) but in Ontario, cultivar development is small scale, carried out by SONG members or our family of nut tree lovers. Today society places little urgency toward nut tree culture, compared to natives who needed a nutritious food that could be utilised throughout the winter. We are blessed with a bounty of food available at our convenience (some now argue about the sustainability of modern agricultural practices).

Most people enjoy the taste, value the nutrition and admire the stature and form of nuts and nut trees when selected cultivars and groves of mature trees are exposed to the public. Many people may be found who would be oh so happy to adopt a couple of our children. For a minute there is a fantasy of bushels of nuts on their property. Then the realities of years to wait until those little seedlings mature. Farmers must sacrifice years of productive harvests; few have the luxury of forgoing the profits to wait while trees reach bearing age. Homeowners may feel embarrassed to their neighbours when planting a runty tree . They don't want to be seen as planting the Christmas tree Charlie Brown bought.

SONG members can promote nut culture by growing any nut tree. You can be part of our experimental farms, dispersed across the province. Many trees will be satisfactory, the lucky and or ambitious SONG members may in time discover a new tree worthy of being a new cultivar. Grow a grafted tree and let many people try your wonderful nuts. Another way to promote nut culture is to go to your local nursery and try to buy a nut tree. Business is business and when many people ask for a product the market will usually respond. Eventually someone will develop nut trees as nursery stock similar to typical landscape construction sizes, balled and burlaped or large container sizes.

I hope to live to see the day, large Chestnut, Walnut and Hickory trees fill the streets fill the yards and fields. Offering something more substantial then a big pile of leaves in the fall. So get out there and find out, "when will you be getting some nut trees?"
Chris Cunliffe

Baked Onions with Nut Stuffing
Choose onions that are hard, with no obvious soft spots, Avoid any that are showing signs of sprouting. Although raw onions are known for their pungent smell, when cooked they have a mild, sweet flavour which contrasts well with the cheesy stuffing. Onions - 4 large each weighing 225-275 g (8-10 oz)
Long grain rice - 150 g (5 oz)
Hazelnuts - 50 g (2 oz)
Salted peanuts - 50 g (2 oz)
Tomatos - 225 g (8 oz) roughly chopped
Cheddar cheese -110 g (4 oz) grated
Dried basil - 1 tsp
Dried oregano - 1 tsp
Turmeric - 1 tsp
Preheat oven to 200C / 400°F. Boil the onions in their skins for 45-50 minutes until very tender. Drain and leave to cool. Cook the rice in plenty of boiling water, until tender. Drain well. Put the hazelnuts and peanuts on a sheet of foil and cook under the grill until brown, turning frequently. Leave the skins on the hazel-nuts and finely chop with the peanuts. Mix the tomatoes with the rice, cheese, nuts, herbs and turmeric. Slice off the tip and root of each onion, but leave on the coloured outer skin. Down one side of each onion cut through to the centre from tip to root. Ease the onions open. Divide the stuffing between each onion, pressing it well into the centre. Place in a roasting tin, cover and bake for about 40 minutes. Serve hot.

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