SONG News September 2014 no.101
In this Issue...

The Majestic Shagbark Hickory

Photo from

The shagbark hickory is native to Eastern Canada near the Great Lakes and eastward along the St. Lawrence. It is largely neglected by garden centres and nurseries because of the slow early growth, long tap root and limited side roots with which this species is endowed. This makes transplanting hickory trees difficult.

We can trick the hickory into forming a fibrous root system by planting a seed or seedling in a tall bottomless pot and keeping it on a 1/2 inch screen surface above the ground. Its natural tendency is to continue tap root growth. When the root hits the dry air under the pot, the root terminates triggering more 'tap roots' to form thus developing a fibrous system easy to transplant.

Hazel nuts shortfall forces buyers to shell out 60% more for supplies
Jacquelynn Moody

Chocolate and snack traders, including Cadbury, feel crunch as poor harvest in Turkey boosts price $4,000, to $10,500 a tonne. An expected global hazelnut shortage is causing the Italian firm that makes Ferrero Rocher to watch the market closely. Chocolate makers already choking on the rising price of cocoa face another price crunch in commodity markets after warnings of a global shortage of hazehiuts.

The price of hazelnuts has increased by more than 60% this year to a 10-year high after bad weather devastated crops in Turkey, the world's biggest producer. One Scottish manufacturer that sells bags of mixed nuts has already decided to take hazelnuts out of the pack, according to an industry source.

About 70% of the world's hazelnuts are grown on steep slopes near Turkey's Black Sea coast, but this year's harvest is likely to be sharply down after hail storms and frost in late March destroyed hazel flowers at a critical moment in the growing season. The price of the nuts has reached $10,500 (6,300) per tonne, compared with $6,500 (3,900) per tonne in February, according to Michael Stevens, a trader at Edinburgh-based Freeworld Trading.

The full extent of the damage is not yet clear, but the Turkish industry is braced for a harvest that could be down to 540,000 tonnes, against pre-frost expectations of up to 800,000 tonnes. It comes as food companies also face rocketing prices for almonds, cocoa and coffee - a potential nightmare for those who enjoy a Ferrero Rocher with their after-dinner coffee.

The hazelnut price rise will be particularly tough for buyers at some of the world's biggest confectionery companies, such as Cadbury, whose Whole Nut bar - made with hazehiuts - is one of its bestsellers. A spokesman for the American conglomerate Mondelez, which owns Cadbury, declined to comment on whether it would increase the price of its chocolate bars. Mondelez is the name of the snack company spun off by America's Kraft, which completed a controversial takeover of the British chocolate maker in 2010.

Ferrero, the Piedmont-based company that makes Ferrero Rocher and Nutella, the cocoa and hazelnut spread, will also be watching the market closely. Ferrero is the world's biggest buyer of hazelnuts, using 25% of the world's supply and making 180 m kg of the spread every year, according to the Italian Trade Agency.

But the company could be insulated from the latest price moves following its recent purchase of Turkey's largest hazelnut processor, Oltan. The deal to purchase Oltan, which has eight factories shelling, chopping and roasting nuts, is reported to have unsettled other confectioners, which are uncomfortable that one of their suppliers has fallen into the hands of a rival.

Meanwhile, almond prices are at a nine-year high, because of drought in California, the world's biggest grower, while a prolonged dry spell in Brazil in January and February reduced the coffee harvest, pushing up prices.

Not all the current price moves in food commodities are due to unseasonal weather. The price of cocoa has been driven to a three-year high with consumers in China and India getting a taste for chocolate. The hazelnut price surge has left market players reeling. "Buyers are living hand to mouth," said Stevens. "Some people had contracts already [pre-dating the frost] and they are not going to get them. A lot of people are still uncovered in the market and people that thought they were covered are now in the market again."

A History of Hickory
Mike Starshak, Wisconsin Hickory Syrup, Princeton, Wisconsin

Hickory nuts were a mainstay of Native Americans, especially in the mid-eastern and eastern regions of the United States where these trees were common. Native Americans competed with red squirrels, gray squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, and mice for this uniquely sweet nut. Other consumers include black bears, gray and red foxes, deer, rabbits, and bird species such as mallards, wood ducks, bobwhites, and wild turkey. Also, insects such as hickory shuck worms, pecan weevils, and hickory nut weevils can infest and abort the fruit, causing it to fall prematurely.

The Hickory tree has an irregular, rounded crown and gets as tall as 150 ft, but most specimens are around 80 ft tall with a canopy spread of about 50 ft. Trees grown in the open often have a trunk that divides into two or three prongs a third of the way above the ground, but trees that grow in the forest usually have a straight trunk that is free of branches for 50 ft or more. Mature Shagbarks are easy to recognize because, as their name implies, they have shaggy bark. This characteristic is only found on mature trees; young specimens have smooth bark. Trees reach commercial seed-bearing age in the forest at about 40 years, with maximum seed production from 60 to 200 years. Under appropriate management, seedlings may bear in 10 to 15 years, and grafted trees may bear in as few as 3 to 4 years. Yields vary tremendously with age and site. The best yielding trees in cultivar tests may produce up to 75 Ibs. of nuts on 25 year-old trees. Nut weight varies from about 3 g to over 12 g per nut (150 nuts/lb. to 38 nuts/lb.). The majority of the nut weight is in the shell, with the kernel typically accounting for less than 30% of the weight.

Shagbark hickory (Carya Ovata) is found throughout most of the eastern United States, but it is largely absent from the southeastern and Gulf coastal plains and lower Mississippi Delta areas. It grows primarily in well-drained soil in valleys and on slopes to altitudes of about 2,000 feet. An isolated population grows in eastern Canada. Scattered locations of shagbark hickory also occur in the mountains of eastern Mexico. Early surveyors noted shagbark hickory among the trees along the Rideau River at Ottawa. However, they were all cut down for axe handles during the 1800s. An isolated healthy population survives north of the Clyde River though. The Clyde River was a well known canoe route of the Algonquians, and it is possible that these trees are descendants of some planted by them. The preservation of the obviously unique genome of these trees has begun at several sites. The main one is in the Ottawa Greenbelt, under the aegis of the National Capital Commission, well isolated from any other hickory populations.

The earliest record of man's use of Carya species comes from archeological excavations near both the northern and western edges of Carya distribution: hickory and pecan were recovered in strata dated from the Early Archaic (8900-8700 yr BP) at Modoc Rock Shelter, Illinois; while pecan leaves and seed were recovered in association with human artifacts from strata dated from about 8000 BP at Baker's cave, Val Verde Co., Texas

The modern record of Indian usage of Carya species was made by the first European explorers and is extensive. When the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto explored the southeastern area of the United States during the period between 1539 and 1542, he reported finding large stores of nut oil. Thomas Harriot, an English Mathematician, astronomer and investigator of the natural world visited Virginia in 1584 and reported of the natives varied uses. William Strachey, secretary to the Jamestown Colony from 1610 to 1612, in his Historic of Travaile into Virginia Britannia, reported the Powhatan Native Americans (of Pocahontas fame) use of the Hickory nut. Our word "hickory" is derived from the Algonquin word "powcohicora "the word for a milky mash they made from hickory nuts. Thomas Ash in his Carolina: A Description of the Present state of that Country, reported in 1682 that nut oil from both walnut and hickory trees was used for cooking and medicinally. John Lawson in his 1714 Lawson's History of North Carolina and Bernard Romans, a Dutch-born Florida surveyor who once hired Paul Revere, fought beside Benedict Arnold and had George Washington introduce him to his future wife, in his 1775 work A Concise Natural History of East and West Florida both reported the Native Americans making of a nut-mash drink. The use of hickory nut oil is further mentioned by French Captain and explorer Jean Bernard Bossu in his 1771 Travels through that part of North America formerly called Louisiana who also observed that the Indians baked pancakes in nut oil. Rev. David Zeisberger, a Moravia (Czechoslovakian) clergyman, missionary, and translator among the Native Americans in the Thirteen Colonies who founded the first settlement in Ohio, wrote in 1779 of the variable harvest and natives uses. The Hickory nut was such a mainstay of the American Indians diet that in 1792, William & Georgia Bartram reported in their Travels through North and South Carolina. Georgia, East and West Florida -"ancient cultivated fields" of hickory west of Augusta, Georgia.

In addition to use as a food, many tribes of Native Americans found additional uses for hickory: the Ojibwa used wood of the Shagbark to make bows, selecting pieces having heartwood to the front of the bow and sapwood nearest the user; the Cherokee used the inner bark of Mockernut and Shellbark to finish baskets; the Omaha used wood of Mockernut and Shellbark to make snowshoe rims, lacing them with rawhide. The Iroquois Indians of Illinois used Hickory wood to line their birch bark canoes, used the inner bark for lashings and even used the bark to make rattles. The Chippewa's used young hickory shoots for medicines. Native American tribes also used various hickories medicinally as abortifacients, pain killers, a de-worming agent, arthritis treatment, cold remedies, dermatological aids, to increase sweating, to reduce water in the body, to induce vomiting, to treat the stomach and intestines, female reproductive aids, laxatives, liver aids, oral aids and orthopedic aids.

The value of hickory as a multi-use plant was quickly recognized by European settlers in North America. Frenchman Andre' Michaux's 1801 book "The Oaks of North America" reported that hickory was preferred in making hoops for casks and boxes. In 1808, young seedlings six to twelve feet tall were cut and sold in bundles of one hundred for three dollars for use in hoop making. The author noted that because of this practice, "young trees proper for this object have become scarce in all parts of the country which have been long settled. The evil is greater, as they do not sprout a second time from the same root, and as their growth is slow." Hickory use was so prevalent at the time that the seventh U.S. president (1829-37) Andrew Jackson, was nicknamed "Old Hickory" in that he was as tough and resilient as Hickory wood. Hickory usage peaked in the United States around the time of the Civil War. Francis Peyre Porcher, a Confederate Army surgeon wrote in his 1863 book Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests that during the Civil War, hickory bark was used in making yellow, olive, and green dyes, while ashes created from burning hickory produced fine quality lye used for making soap.

Hickory is a dense wood, contributing to its value as a fuel wood. It furnishes about 25 million BTUs per cord. Shagbark hickory is among the densest in the genus. The sapwood (often sold as 'white hickory') is cream to white in color and is preferred over the heartwood, which is pink or red to brown (known in commerce as 'red hickory1). The wood has high toughness, bending, stiffness, and crushing strengths, and has exceptional shock resistance. It submits well to steam bending, is generally difficult to machine, and has a moderate blunting effect on tools. Although difficult to glue, it stains and polishes very well. The wood is considered nondurable, with sapwood being liable to attack by the powder post beetle and heartwood being moderately resistant to preservation treatment. Hickory wood is ideal for handles of striking tools such as hammers, picks and axes. Today it is used for chairs and as ladder rungs. Hickory wood has been used extensively for sports equipment such as golf clubs, lacrosse sticks, baseball bats, longbows, and for laminate in racquets and skis. The wood is used for plywood faces and is sliced for decorative veneers. Strips of inner hickory bark are pliable when green, and can be woven to make chair seats. Hickory is also a highly favored wood for smoking and curing meats.

Hickory is making a comeback and as long-term minded entrepreneurs and agro-foresters are discovering, its great history portends a great future!

President's Report
Ernie Grimo

It has been an interesting spring and summer and a challenge for growers who were trying to plant new orchards. The wet spring made it difficult to plant in all but the sandiest soils. The soils were never really suitable for planting, and most waited days to plant trees after heavy unseasonable rains. This was followed by a rain drenched summer.

Established trees lapped it up. There was never a time when they faced moisture stress but with the wet weather they did not get the summer sun and heat that they needed to fill the nuts. All being said, there should be a good crop of nuts this year.

Buyer be aware... It is an often held notion that the siblings of a plant are like clones, that they are exceptional and that they share the outstanding characteristics of the parent. In fact some nurseries go so far as to list the female parent names as if the off-spring are going to be the very clone that they are identified to represent. The names are dropped as though the buyer of the tree is going to get a tree that is the identical to the seed parent. Listing a tree as a 'Broadview' or a '208P' is to imply that it is a clone of that tree. A claim that hazels grown from seed are immune to filbert blight is not only false and misleading but dishonest. The unaware customer thinks that he/she is getting the parent when they are only getting the child or seedling of that tree. Does this mean that the seedling will be like the parent in all respects, that it will have the same nut size, shape, cracking quality, production and disease resistance as the parent tree? If only that were so, we wouldn't need to graft or layer trees or breed to make the one selection out of 1000 or more seedlings to get that outstanding cultivar.

I only ask that buyers be aware of what is being offered and make nurseries accountable for what they sell. If you aren't sure, ask them. An investment in a tree is a long commitment and it should not be taken lightly. Be sure you get what you are paying for. I am addressing this because I have had reports from growers who thought they were getting clones and received seedlings instead.

Shagbark Hickory Bark Syrup

Take bark from a shagbark hickory, and under running water, use a stiff scrub brush to remove all debris and as much lichen as possible. All of the lichen won't come off, just do your best. Break the cleaned bark into pieces and place them in a pot of water, being sure the bark is covered. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. This should result in a dark tea. Strain all solids out. Put back over heat, and again bring to a boil. Add 1 1/2 times the sugar as there is tea. For a half gallon of water, use 12 cups of sugar. Heat until the syrup is a thick as you like.

Make the syrup in 1-2 gallon batches so that you only have to make it once in a while. I've found that by bottling the boiling syrup in sterilized jars and sealing immediately, then processing in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, I have no problems with spoilage. The flavor is definitely hickory, similar to maple, but a flavor all its own. I find I actually prefer this to maple syrup, as far as flavor goes. If you are looking for a unique flavor to add to your breakfast table, give this a try. The portions are mostly by eye, but you will find certain amount tend to please your palate more. I prefer my flavor strong, so I tend to add a lot more bark when making my tea mixture. I also like thicker syrup, so I usually boil it until I get to about 225- 230 degrees Fahrenheit on my candy thermometer. Not only can it cover pancakes, waffles, and French toast, but you can also use it to glaze meats and fruits, as a dipping sauce, or as a base for a mighty fine barbecue sauce.....
Recipe from Florida

The Eastern Ontario Butternut Recovery Story

The Butternut is a native tree with a wide distribution in central and eastern United States reaching its northern limits in southern Ontario, southern Quebec and New Brunswick. They have co-existed with other trees in the forests of eastern Ontario for thousands of years. Now, Butternuts everywhere are under attack by the Butternut Canker Disease, a non-native fungal disease that attacks all Butternuts regardless of size or age. There is no way of protecting the trees and there is no known cure once they become infected with this deadly disease. Trees slowly lose vigour as the fungus kills the inner bark. Branches start dying in the crown and black sooty patches appear on the bark as the tree is eventually girdled by canker lesions. Butternut is classified as an endangered species both provincially and federally.

The Butternut Recovery program consists of finding and mapping healthy Butternut trees, checking their DNA to avoid hybrids, collecting seeds and then growing healthy seedlings at the Ferguson Forest Centre hi Kemptville. They are then handed out, 10 at a time, to landowners across the region for out-planting. When trees are located that are showing strong signs of tolerance to the canker disease, scions (small branch cuttings) are collected and grafted onto walnut rootstock. This essentially clones the tolerant genetic material of the parent tree and the resulting grafts are then planted in protected archives with the ultimate goal of cross breeding them to produce tolerant Butternut seedlings for re-introduction into Ontario's forests.

To date, over 1,000 landowners have had their properties surveyed for healthy Butternut with 452 trees assessed as potential seed trees. We have collected 54,500 Butternut seeds from these healthy trees since 2010 and have grown and out-planted 14,605 seedlings on 1,450 different properties all across eastern Ontario. In addition, Butternut Recovery has grafted 33 tolerant trees and there are numerous clones of each growing in the Eastern Ontario Butternut Archive at the Ferguson Forest Centre in Kemptville. We continue to support numerous Butternut research projects with other forest institutes in both Canada and the United States.

The early results of Butternut Recovery are encouraging. The health and vigour of the out-planted Butternut seedlings are monitored each year and overall survival is good, with 50% still alive after 5 years. The grafts in the archive are growing very well and the strongest of them will be allowed to start producing seeds of their own in 2015. We are supporting exciting new research on artificial propagation of multiple healthy seedlings from one seed embryo, short term studies of optimum growing space and conditions for seedlings and long-term storage of mature seed through cryopreservation.

You will find Butternut stories, results and pictures on the RVCA website at; click on "Protecting Our Land" on the left-hand side, and then on Butternut Recovery Program under Index.

More information: Rose Fleguel, Regional Butternut Specialist, Rideau Valley Conservation Authority rose.fleguel(S)

Gordon Wilkinson reports

Observations taken during the third week of June showed that the various nut trees on my field survived last year's harsh winter reasonably well. The chestnut seedling (Castanea Sativa), which appeared dead during the third week of June, has reappeared, looks healthy, and is about the same size as last year. One 61/2! heartnut seedling died back to about one-third of its height but then resprouted to some 5'. All 3 "Porter" shagbark grafts died while the hardier "Weschke" variety survived. Temperature loggers show that winter temperature minimums ranged from -34.4 to -37.4C, depending upon the location. Strong stem extension on most heartnut and pecan trees suggest that the height of a few of these trees will be over 10 feet by the end of the season. This year 6 heartnuts produced nuts in the following quantities: 1,3,4,4,13, and 25. The tree with the 25 nuts is the first time producing and the nuts are in three bunches of 12, 8, and 5 nuts.

Hardy Heartnut Project: Only a few heartnut seedlings remain alive but these look healthy.

How do you Sprout nut seeds?

QUESTION: I have tried to grow trees from the nuts and nothing comes up. How do you sprout nut seeds?

ANSWER: Most temperate tree nuts including walnuts, butternuts, heartnuts, hazelnuts, hickory, pecan, chestnuts, etc., need to be stratified before they will germinate. Collect fresh nuts in the fall and fall plant them as squirrels do, one or two inches deep. If squirrels are plentiful in your area, you can duplicate nature's way, by mixing the nuts with a wet medium like peat moss and store them hi a plastic bag in the refrigerator to give hem the cold, moist conditioning needed to set up the embryo to sprout. Chestnuts should be stored in almost dry peat or sphagnum moss. Plant them in the spring as weather conditions permit. Cover the planting site with m'cken wire to keep the squirrels from digging up the nuts. Where squirrel and other nut pest pressure is high, form the chicken wire into a tent over the nuts and bury the sides and ends 20 cm into the ground. You can plant the nuts in a tall pot and sprout the nuts indoors. A 2 litre (quart) milk carton opened to utilize the full height with drainage holes poked in the bottom can be used as a planting pot. A well drained soil mixture is best to get them started. Plant the stratified seed with the top end facing the centre, just under the surface. Place in a room temperature room to sprout. Move them into a sunny location once sprouted.

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