SONG News January 2003 no. 64
In this Issue...

Minutes of SONG summer meeting July 20, 2002

Chris Cunliffe opened the meeting and welcomed everyone. Ernie Grimo gave the treasurer's report. Paul McCully gave the nominating committee report. All current committee members were contacted and none had resigned. The members at the meeting agreed to stand for re-election. Simon DeBoer agreed to stand for the unfilled position of Vice President. The motion was made to accept the report and re-elect all current committee members as well as Simon. The motion was seconded, a vote was taken, and elections were closed.

John Pol made a proposal to the group for funding of a heartnut cracker. He indicated he had approached an engineer in London who had made some preliminary designs. Ernie Grimo made the motion to provide funding up to $3000.00. The motion was seconded and passed. Following the business portion of the meeting the McCullys gave a tour of their orchards and processing equipment. Following the tour Chris Cunliffe thanked the McCullys for hosting the summer meeting.

SONG Bites Summer 2002

Once again we have proof that no two growing seasons are alike. However, we do have undeniable evidence that what we did for our crops this year would have worked perfectly last year. The "warm" in 2002 started early ... in fact, in March. The global warmers had several radiant days in the sun ... proof positive that we'd all be toasted marshmallows by the first of September. However, a funny thing happened on the way to summer. The bottom fell out of global warming faster than you can say, "Declining Stock Market!"

Then there were some shocking late spring frosts in May for which many of our "hardy" nut trees had to start all over again. For a while there, it looked like we'd have to rely entirely on that old farm adage wisdom that, "Next year will be better!" That's a hard one to swallow before the growing season has scarcely started. May and early June did not waste away many heat units but then ... the season found the "hot" button for July, August and even September. Many places got very droughty before the general rains of September started to fall. The late rains may have helped trees to survive and limp into winter dormancy but the rains were not much help in sizing up the nut crops. Pecans were their complete usual oddity in this respect. My pecans really didn't start to size up until early September ... and that's putting off a pretty important function until quite late! Oddly enough, it appears that some of the pecans did have reasonably good crops. Who would have predicted that one?! However, September was one of the more sunny, warm months that we've had in many, many years. In fact, September packed full the notion that at last we've had a good old fashioned HOT summer in our own time. Some people even claim that they are fully ready for winter. September's a bit early to say for sure what kind of nut crops will be stored in the bam by the end of October, but anyway, here are some tentative guesses.

There's a surprisingly good crop in several Ontario nut groves ... in spite of the late spring frosts. You'd have to wonder whether heartnut does have some lateral bearing tendencies after all. Nut size is about average, and fill is quite acceptable.

The crop was no whopper and the kernels were not all that well filled although nut size was quite respectable in many cases. This is one instance where summer of 2003 will probably bring better results.

Sweet Chestnuts
This species did its usual thing of bearing lateral growth and all over the place. Nut size on irrigated soil was mighty fine but trees without summer watering have produced peewee results. The summer drought often revealed and confirmed the presence of chestnut blight as the tops of some trees turned that not so nice shade of brown. Of course, some of the trees might have been dying because of pure drought and nothing more. Several of my yard trees died ... species which don't even take the chestnut blight ... so blight can not be blamed for everything!

English Walnuts
Not much can be said for this one this year. The spring frosts got most of the flowers and then the few nuts that developed were consumed for the most part by walnut blight. Lucky growers may have captured a few mature nuts as souvenirs of the 2002 season.

Yes ... there was quite a good crop of almonds. They matured in the standard season length and were well filled. Curious!

Any pecans that produced nuts in Ontario this year should be regarded as singularly successful lateral bearers. Some cultivars such as Carlson #3, Lucas, and Snaps Early turn out to be especially good at lateral bearing-perhaps better than even the terminal bearing years. However, the lateral bearing mode seems to delay the ripening of the nuts by 7-10 days. It figures ... because it takes a few days more for the laterals to develop after terminal growth has been destroyed by frost.

Minor Nuts
Many hickories have good crops this year. Nuts are of average size and often of reasonably good quality. Many beech trees have large crops of smallish nuts that are often empty. Crops of but-cernuts are rather spotty.

Black Walnuts
Many black walnuts have large crops and surprisingly the nut sizes are average to large. However, this is a year that identifies the better nut sites. Nut fill on good sites is quite satisfactory but nuts grown on thin, dry soils are quite empty. It's a useful lesson in the art of nut growing.

Watering and June
Parker Coble

The fall newsletter is a good time to remind novice growers and hobbyist in the drought areas of Pennsylvania (also Ontario), who planted nut trees this past spring to continue to water these trees throughout the fall and early winter. Every week you do not get one inch of rain give each tree a five-gallon bucket of water. This applies even after the trees go dormant or until adequate rainfall or snow. I trust this will be of help as you establish young plantings. Next, I would like to answer a question directed to me this summer concerning premature nut drop.

Many of you have heard the tern "June drop" which occurs in fruit trees. We have a very similar occurrence that occurs beginning in late June and extending during July. The falling of nuts from trees during that period is a natural occurrence caused by the following:

  1. Lack of adequate pollination caused by rain, cold, poor wind conditions.
  2. Insect damage.
  3. Stress on the tree as we change from a wet spring to dryer summer conditions.
  4. Stress caused via a serious summer drought as we have has in 1999, 2001, and 2002, (In such cases nuts will continue to drop into fall.)
  5. Birds pecking nut husks and into kernel. Persian (Carpathian, English) walnuts are especially susceptible to this type of predation.
Reprinted from the NNGA newsletter Novice Column

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