SONG News January 2002 no. 62
In this Issue... Kernal Heartnut

Nuts about Heartnuts

The cookbook is available now, The book will be priced at $14. A special pre-publication price of $10 will be offered the membership for all orders received by the first week in February at our SONG Technical meeting. Please add $2.50 for mailing. Growers who wish to buy the books in quantity to resell at their market stands, etc. contact Ernie Grimo for prices.

The Commercial Growing Season - 2001

The year 2001 season started out fairly early. Then it went into "decline" and it picked up speed and shifted into the warm/dry gear. For some of us the warm/dry was from June to mid September and it was dry, dry, dry. Incredibly dry! The irrigation water bills were treemendous! The Niagara-on-the-Lake water department sold so much water this summer that they took an additional 3 months to calculate the multi-digit bills. Dry! It was dry!

With all that heat, a reasonable grower would have expected early harvest dates but such was not the case. For groves irrigated, the harvest time was about the usual normal. Non-irrigated tree crops may have been quite late with small nuts which were not all that well filled. I guess you've got to have moisture with your heat in order to get good nut crops, hi fact, you may have to have the whole thing ... from good soil and nutrients to moisture, heat and a good long season too! Yes, you've got to have Everything right there for the trees to use. Pampered! Like Queen Bees ... with everything provided!

Some years Nature provides it all ... hardly, without notice ... and growing great things from the soil seems to be easy! Other years the grower has to provide most all ... and therein is the beginning of education for the growers! Let the learning begin ... Early and Often! The pecans were especially interesting to watch. In spite of a wonderful pollinating season, the nut set was very sparse. The nut size started to expand by mid season ... in the usual way ... and then the nut size started to get ... smaller! Many of the nuts dropped off ... a usual occurrence in years of low pollination. .. whatever the cause. Lastly, most of the nuts, which did try to hang on to the end of the season, came down with cases of pecan scab! Wouldn't it be our luck that in the warm years, we can experience pecan scab. Ordinarily, pecan scab is the monopoly of places like Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, etc! New Mexico has very little pecan scab ... for those who are considering moving! Yes, mature pecans were scarce in Ontario for fall 2001. However, there were pretty good crops of heartnuts, chestnuts ... and some showings in Hazel, English walnut and hardy almond, in fact, it was an exceptionally good year for the hardy almond, small acreage but, good yield. On the oddity side of the ledger ... some of the king-nut hickories were prolific in yield with well filled kernels. When hickories can do it, one should wonder why the pecans can't do it? Usually it's the other way around. However, it sort of shows us again ... that unto each nut tree, a year is given.

The fall of 2001 has certainly been a gift from the fuel companies. Even the so called "cold spells" haven't been all that cold. Lest we think that global warming is wrapping it's way right around us ... we should remember that there was a warm fall in 1963 ... rained all through the weeks of the festive season. A warm fall can lull us into the belief that snow/mice/voles will never come. Watch out for young trees if high snow arrives in February/March. Keep the mouse bait/tree guards etc. on white alert during the winter season! Also season 2001 brought forth a good crop of the other rodent ... . Rabbits/hares etc. Well ... for the last 3 months I've had a little cotton tailed creature which greets me at the backdoor early mornings and before sundown. Yes ... kind of cute ... and they become so tame. I could probably feed this one lettuce out of hand if I were so inclined.

Annual Fall Meeting

Our Fall Meeting on October 19, 2001 was held at Woodwinds, the farm of Dolf and Anne Wynia. The 30 or so attendees toured Dolf s experimental chestnut orchard where he had a variety of grafted and seedling trees. Several points were noted. It seems that the trees near the adjoining bush did much better than the trees 200 feet away or more. Several seedling selections are producing large attractive nuts and seem to be well adapted to his light sandy soil and climatic features. Winter cold, wind stress and chestnut blight seem to be important factors in the success of grafted trees. A SONG Executive dinner meeting was held immediately following the fall meeting to plan the events for 2002. Those plans are now finalized.

Executive Meeting

An executive meeting was held on Oct. 14/01 at the home of Dolf and Anne Wynia. The upcoming years activities were discussed, as well as the requirements for the Simcoe nut planting, possible shows, and other nut related items.

Filbert Blight

The last few years, the filbert blight has been making repeat appearances on all but the most resistant types. One could say that it's been a great time for identifying the clones with maximum resistance! Yes it is truly an ill wind which blows no one Some good. True and the filbert blight spores have been blowing in the wind for the past several seasons along with whatever other "blessings" enjoy that medium. Aniso-grama anomala is what it is called. The name would suggest that it's bent out of shape and doesn't fit any of the usual patterns. It does the same thing to filbert bushes and they don't look too pretty after this blight has had it's way. Simply said, buy disease resistant nursery stock and trueness to name is important in this instance.

Chestnut Blight

Years of stress bring out the susceptibilities to diseases. Winter injury, droughts, floods etc ... all set up the trees for further destruction from disease. It's a tough life! However, we are not offered a choice. Again, this year a few more chestnut trees have collapsed with blight. However, many remain healthy, vigorous, green in leaf, and sturdy in form. A ray of hope! It gives one the strength to plant another acre of chestnuts. Prices for product have been good now for several years.

Chestnut Kernel Breakdown

For several years, nut growers have been puzzling the reasons for chestnut kernels going brown and mushy and tasting bad at just about harvest time. 2-10% of the nuts looking good, but in Shakespearean terms, "as goodly rotten apples at the core!" Some have suggested phomopsis as the culprit and others ... a lack of calcium. After this year ... it may be just a pollination/abortion complication. .. i.e. compare to pecan in 2001. However sometimes real life shows that it may be all of these things in different proportions in different years?

Drought and Your Nut Trees
Parker Coble

The spring, summer, and fall issues of The Kernel focused on planting, selection of cultivars, tree care, and how to learn new cultivars. In this final edition of The Kernel for 2001,1 want to talk about a problem most of us have faced in the last two of three years (1999 and 2001): drought. Since we talked earlier about new trees and watering requirements, we will focus on trees in production.

Depending on where you live, there are many variables that come into play. For example: orchards or trees in mountains or heavily-wooded areas tend to get more rain showers since trees produce water vapor which can trigger showers. Soil types play a large role which is determined by whether you have clay, loam, or sandy soils. Depth of soil also plays a key role. Trees planted on shallow shale cannot withstand drought as well as those with deeper soils. The amount of compost around trees and availability of water to irrigate make a major difference. This list could go on, but what effect does the drought usually have:

  1. Some nuts will not fill, and they fall prematurely
  2. Most nuts will be undersized
  3. With many cultivars the nut will not easily fall free of the husk (hickories, pecans, hicans, etc.)
  4. The husks of species such as black walnut frequently will not come off the nut easily
  5. A high percentage of nuts will be undersized and underdeveloped, and even odd shaped
  6. Certain cultivars will not crack easily
  7. Some nuts will hang on the tree longer and maybe even all winter
  8. If the drought is sustained, next year's crop may also be adversely affected
  9. Squirrels will start feeding on nuts earlier in the summer
  10. Deer will more readily feed on your tender buds

Usually, you cannot control where you live, but you can mulch and hopefully have a good water source. I trust this helps with your frustration on years such as this. Remember, you're not alone.
Novice Column reprinted from the December 2001 Nut Kernel, Vol.53 No. 4 of the Pennsylvania Nut Growers Association. The article was written by Parker Coble, member and President of the PNGA.

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