SONG News January 2009 no. 84
In this Issue...

Here is a good looking group of nut growing enthusiasts at the 2008 fall meeting in Sparta . Hosts, John and Sally Martyn, provided a tour around their Nut Groves.

President's Message

Hello SONG and ECSONG members. I would like to congratulate all members of ECSONG for getting their group back together. We are living in some interesting and exciting times for nut growing in Ontario. This is evidenced by the interest of Ferraro Roche in Brantford and the increased involvement of the University of Guelph with one hazel planting in the ground, and two more to be planted this spring including, one more at Simcoe and one at the Vineland research station. I would like to thank all of those involved with this endeavour especially the passionate Martin Hodgson for all his work with meetings and his vision of a booming hazel nut industry with SONG being an essential partner, and Dr. Adam Dale for putting together the proposals for funding to allow this good work to happen. We could have as many as 15000 acres of hazelnuts being planted in Ontario, with cooperative processing plants and other offshoot industries for shot blast from shells and potentially Taxol for cancer.

I would also like to thank John and Sally Martyn from Sparta for hosting our autumn meeting this year and congratulate them for all the efforts they put in as it is obvious they love what they do and are still putting in new plantings.

We have other growers in Ontario who are quite successful growing and selling nuts. If you are interested in seeing these successful operations and talking with the people behind them please come to our winter Grower meeting on February the 24th and you will get first hand knowledge on propagation, grafting, planting and harvesting. Enough information to perhaps start your own nut growing venture, big or small!
Bruce w. Thurston

Forcing Chestnuts in the Greenhouse
Murray Alward

I have enjoyed the luxury of having a heated greenhouse to experiment with my nut growing hobby, particularly chestnut, seeds, splice grafting, chip budding, nut grafting and cuttings. I propagate evergreens, shrubs, perennials and trees at Riverbend Farms (Ontario) Ltd. near Aylmer, Ontario. I enjoy being a member of SONG, the Canadian Chestnut Council and the International Plant Propagators Society.

The greenhouse advantage with reliable heat, moisture, weed free soilless mix, and control release fertilizer with micro nutrients from February through June greatly accelerates growth of chestnuts . Fall harvested chestnuts stored in zip lock bags in soilless mix, peat or sawdust are stratified at 32-38°F in the fridge until planting.

The seed is sown February - March into 12 oz. styro cups (punched with drain holes) or root trainer pots, filled with soilless mix or nursery gro-bark keeping P.H. about 5.5 or so. Between February and June when growing vigorously , I transplant to a 1 gallon nursery container to allow for dynamic root expansion, top dress with 1 Tsp. of control release fertilizer like 6 month osmocote or plantacote plus. A starter solution of 10-52-10 water soluble fertilizer can give quick start. This should keep the plants growing vigorously until mid to late June.

Approximately mid to late June move the 1 gallon tree outside to harden off under a lath shade. Vertical height doesn't increase much but the bark hardens ,calliper increases and the roots expand greatly. In mid August tip out the plant and see how the roots have continuing expansion, setting the plant for next spring's growth. Roots are the secret!

These small trees could be fall planted, spring planted or kept for grafting next fall. I over winter in either a minimum heated white poly house kept 33-38°F generally or a garage or barn at the approximate temperature. Don't worry about light or humidity, but keep the soil pleasantly moist in the container until spring.

For my heavy transplants I re-pot to 3 gallon containers early spring, force again to June in the greenhouse and harden off a 4 - 51/2' tree for fall planting.

Fall Planting Instructions
I have come to the conclusion that fall planting about the middle to last of September works. This is when the leaves begin to turn off, but the roots will continue growing in the warm fall soil. Usually, we have less stress with shorter days, cooler weather and hopefully more moisture. Leaves are not about to demand the plant resources. Roots can establish before freeze up, preparing for a surge next spring, pushing top growth the following season.

A larger transplant works very well fall planted, a 2 year - 3 gallon in my experience, 4-5 feet or so.

Dig a $10 hole for a $5 plant, remove the container and set in the cavity backfilling with good soil. Place a white drainage tile at the bottom trunk 18 - 20" to fend off mice and rabbits. White is preferable to black. Black can get too hot next summer. Stake if required with a 6'stake. Tie with poly bailer twine with a figure eight connection to prevent bark damage. Staple on the tree about 4' a single fabric softener sheet eg. 'bounce' to keep away deer. Change this soapy smelling fabric sheet every 3 weeks or so.

A 20 litre pail with several holes in the bottom can be used for an effective drip irrigation system.

Don't forget to change your bounce sheet at three weeks and if particularly dry add water with the drip bucket until freeze up. Mulch around the trees for moisture retention and weed control.

Stand back and watch your chestnut grow!

ECSONG General Meeting Minutes
Saturday Nov. 22/08, RVCC (Manotick)

Round Table Introductions:
Attendance: 17 + Guests from MNR, EOMF and RVCA

Discussion on the status of ECSONG member activities (projects):
Dolman Ridge Nut Grove Activities (J. Cote - report distributed and J. Sankey)
Various Private Groves
Volunteers of Oak Valley Pioneer Park (SNC-M. Inch, lead)
Fillmore R. Park - Baxter (P. Goddard)
Lavant Shagbark Hickory Grove (Crown Land)
OMAF funded plantations (ECSONG planted) - need for reconnaissance (Ted Cormier, lead at the time)
Action Item: J. Sankey to contact M. Inch regarding status of project files.

SONG Motions:
Moved by Ernest Grimo and seconded by John Flys and unanimously approved by those in attendance that: SONG includes ECSONG in a closer relationship according to the Organizational Bylaws that were discussed and adopted at the Brighton meeting on August 25, 2008. Unanimously Adopted by ECSONG.

Moved by Ernest Grimo and seconded by Bruce Thurston that: SONG enters into a Non-Profit Corporation status, the cost not to exceed $2600. Unanimously Adopted by ECSONG.

Chair: Jeff Blackadar
Vice-Chair: Neil Thomas
Secretary: Dan Mayo
Treasurer: currently vacant (Action: Jeff to email membership for interest)
Councilors: Peter Goddard, John Sankey, John Adams, Richard Viger

Brief presentation summary on the local Butternut Recovery Program, Rose Fleguel, RVCA Species At Risk presentation on newly updated Ontario Endangered Species Act and its implication to property owners, Marie-France Noel, EOMF
Action Item: Joffre to circulate presentation to ECSONG members present via email.
Action Item: Sign in sheet /Distribution List will be circulated to ECSONG members present via email - Joffre.

Adjourned at 12:30pm.
Next Meeting to be scheduled at the Chair's discretion.

SONG Fall Meeting
Saturday, October 25th, 2008

Sally & John Martyn of Sparta, Ontario were the hosts and made arrangements for our meeting to be held at the old United Church in Sparta. Much of the church structure, furnishings and even the dishes and cutlery date back to the late 1800s/early 1900s. The town of Sparta itself is like travelling back in time. It reminded me of country village living in the 1940s. The village has a Tea Room, likely a restaurant, I'm not sure as I did not stop in. There was an antique shop as well as other quaint shops and structures. A wonderful trip back down memory lane.

After the SONG Business Meeting we had a tour of The Martyn's orchards which consisted of Chinese chestnut trees with trunks 4' or so in diameter and some 60+ feet tall. There were Heartnut trees, Walnut, Black Walnut, Paw Paw & a variety of exotic fruit bearing trees, some planted by Sally's grandfather and father.

Sally & John Martyn's property has been in Sally's family since early 1800s. Their home, built in the Georgian style & I am guessing in the 1800s, sits atop a gentle rise at the end of a long winding, treed drive. An impressive sight! Sally Martyn provided her very own fresh, hot oven roasted chestnuts with refreshments.

The SONG business meeting, Chaired by SONG President Bruce Thurston, began at 1:00 p.m. with 18 persons in attendance.

Treasurer Ernie Grimo reported SONG's bank account was in the area of $14,000.

A Heartnut research project for South Western Ontario was proposed by Ernie Grimo . According to Ernie Heartnut will grow well in areas within a mile or so of The Great Lakes i.e. Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and southern portions of Lake Michigan.

Adam Dale of U of G has written a research proposal for a Hazel Nut Research program, involving SONG, and The Ontario Centre for Excellence utilizing local stock and selected varieties from international sources to generate nut meats suitable for Ferraro Roche products. Dr. Dale will be providing details of the proposal to SONG Executive for a decision.

Pres. Thurston put forward a proposal that SONG provide up to a maximum of $3,000.00 for three years, for a total of $9,000.00 towards Dr. Dale's Hazel Nut Research. Seconded by John Flys.

Proposed by Pres. Thurston that the Hazel Nut trees for the research be purchased from The Grimo Nursery. Seconded by John Flys.

Researchers to sign Plant Breeders' Rights Agreement to protect the breeder's materials in the event the tree becomes commercially viable.

Voted upon by SONG members in attendance. 18 - Yes, none against.

The organizational By-Laws changes wherein ECSONG would become a Chapter of SONG, as well as the incorporation of SONG, the cost of which incorporation is not to exceed $2,600.00 was passed by the 18 persons in attendance plus 6 Proxy votes received by the Treasurer. None against.

Nut Grower's Reports:
Dolf Wynia had a 900 lb. crop of good quality Chinese Chestnuts.
Murray Alward's "nut grafted" American Chestnuts - In pots - produced chestnuts within two years. He chip grafted several American Chestnuts. American Chestnut from rooted cuttings done in May in a humidity case, using growth hormone with the temperature maintained at 80°F grew from 2 to 6 feet within a three year period.
Paul McCully of Ridgetown produced 4500 Ibs. of good quality Chinese Chestnuts on 5 acres. He also had a good crop of Heartnuts & Pecans.
Ernie Grimo had a good crop of hazels with a smaller than usual crop of Chinese Chestnuts & Heartnuts.
Meeting adjourned about 3:20 p.m. for the tour of the Martyn Estate.
John Flys

Letters from Butternut Farm
2008 Summary
Martin Hodgson research chair - Hazels

A lot of interesting things happened this year with regards to the promotion and introduction of the hazelnut industry in Ontario.

I presented a half hr summary of the current status and market potential of a hazelnut industry in Ont. to the winter Fruit and Vegetable growers convention in Feb. at Brock. Then in mid-summer we met in NOTL with some of the important Federal and Provincial officials in agriculture.

This led to me to set up a gathering of Federal, Provincial, U of G and Municipal officials at my farm in early September. We outlined the potential of hazelnuts to the local economy and were able to show them that hazels will survive and thrive in our area. These were the individuals involved in research and handing out grants.

From that Dr. Adam Dale was able to put together a proposal that will get us started into a project that will select and propagate (through tissue culture) a few selected varieties of immune hazels for specific field trials within the next few years. This proposal has not been approved as of yet, but the potential is quite viable. It will be a major step forward in our journey.

In amongst this activity, a journalist from the London Free Press, who had attended one of our meetings, published an article on the potential of hazelnuts based on an interview with me and then in late September we made the center page of the London Free Press Monday Business section. In this article he basically exposed the potential for nut growing (Hazels and Heartnuts) in Southwestern Ont.

We have had much more exposure than normal, but we have to be careful since it will take a few more years to obtain any volume of selected cultivars that we can get to the public. During my presentation in late Feb., 2009 I will touch on the following topics.
The consolidation of immune hazel nut trees in April 2008
Methodology and results. Orchard layouts and irrigation needs will be discussed.
This carries with it a discussion as to how severely the trees should be pruned to if they are to be transplanted.

I also managed to get to BC this fall and met with Mr. Peter Andres again. I will give a detailed review of his successes with hazels and how he gets about $20,000 a year from his seven acre lot of trees. Hope to see you all there.
Martin Hodgson

Ask the Experts

Q: I have a chestnut tree in my yard. Are the nuts edible?
A: Many people confuse the common horse chestnut with the sweet chestnut. The horse chestnut is not edible. Horse chestnut burs (hulls) have blunt spikes, while sweet chestnut burs are very sharp and spiny. The horse chestnut nut is almost round with no flower end, while the sweet chestnut nut has a pointed end with a small shrivelled flower tip. The most important difference is the taste. Horse chestnut meats taste bitter, while sweet chestnuts are mildly sweet.

This is one of many questions asked about nut growing, and the varmints that also enjoy the bountiful harvest. I plan on making this small section a regular part of the newsletter so if you have any questions that are nagging at you and would like an answer we can ask the experts. Send your questions to the editor and we will try and answer them for you. Send questions to

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