The 2014 winter will be remembered as one of the longest, coldest, most consistent winters that even the old-timers can remember. Tender fruit crops outside of the Niagara Peninsula were almost nonexistent. Likewise with English, Persian, Carpathian (whatever you want to name them), I've heard reports of tree death, loss of fruiting food, and resulting crop loss. In the Niagara fruit belt, our trees survived the winter and came back with a near normal crop. My problem was Walnut blight, which causes the husk on the nut to turn black, and adhere to the developing shell, and hence won't crack and fall off for harvest. In severe cases the nut meat doesn't develop, rendering the nuts completely useless. I have had success using copper in past years, however, the frequent rains in early summer proved too much, and I should have used the newly registered Kasumin. Anyway, hindsight is 20/20. The take home message is English walnuts perform best in areas where tender fruit does well. Typically the walnut tree is slightly more winter hardy than most tender fruit, which we saw this year, however, in the spring (or following mild winter temperatures), the developing buds are very sensitive to sharp temperature drops. Resulting in crop loss, with minimal damage to the structure of the tree.
As I see it, growers (and wannabe growers) have 2 options, either we identify areas where walnuts do well, and encourage plantings in those areas or we identify and breed for hardier selections that will grow in the not as ideal locations. Breeding for consistent yields is always useful, disease (blight) resistance and cold tolerance are key in southern Ontario. Knowing the limits (or limitations) of plant genetics there is always going to be someone who 'pushes the envelope', and wants more hardy, more disease resistance, larger nuts, better fill, better flavour, it's a never ending tour and we must keep trying and choosing the best. Hoping everyone chooses the best varieties for their area.
Black Walnut Report
Invitation to those with a possible interested in a Co-Op to process Black Walnuts:
For the last decade Neil Thomas and Glenn Bannerman independently have been working on the design of equipment to process Black Walnuts. Before Neil died last year he donated the equipment, that he had built in association with Algonquin College, to the University of Guelph. U of G appointed Glenn Bannerman to test and evaluate this equipment. Thus for the first time Neil's and Glenn's equipment is available for inspection and testing at the East end of Lake Ontario. Glenn Bannerman made an evaluation report of his and Nell's processing equipment at the SONG meeting in March at the Simcoe Experimental Station.
A number of SONG members believe that the time has arrived for a commercial operation modelled after the largest Black Walnut processor in the world, Hammons of Stockton Missouri. Hammons has been processing Black Walnuts for over three quarters of a century. Ernie Grimo has been processing Black Walnuts on a hobby farm scale for a decade and we therefore have the benefit of his experience as well.
The basic concept is to buy nuts by the pound from collectors who deliver them to a collection station, and they are then trucked to a processing facility where they are hulled, washed and dried. Subsequently they are cracked and the kernels are separated from the shell.
This operation requires a substantial investment. Therefore we are seeking partners willing to collect nuts, to serve as collecting agents, and those who willing to help finance this endeavour.
If you are willing to contemplate any of these roles please contact me and I will send you a lengthy preliminary plan. Following this we will attempt to convene a meeting to obtain your input.
Glenn Bannerman is the Black Walnut Director, SONG.
Letters from Butternut farm 2014
Martin and Pat Hodgson
The 2013/2014 winter season was luckily a rare episode for farmers in Southern Ontario Record cold winter temperatures and a long wet spring resulted in delays for many plants.
With regards to hazelnuts. those that were pollinated set shells nearly a month late near the end of June. They filled late and were ready to pick/fall by mid to late Sept.
The hazel nut crop was very light due to the hard frost that followed about 2-3 days after the catkin break out in April. Yields ranged from 0 to 5% at most across the orchard. Only selected trees were picked mid Sept. for study. A total volume would fit in a six quart basket. All nuts were gone from the trees and ground by Oct. 1. The crows seems to have developed a taste for them now along with all the other varmints. Chipmunks were taking the nuts with only 10% of the kernel filled in Aug.
Only one hazelnut tree seemed to die out completely, but many showed minor tip die-back on some branches. Newly planted trees this year seemed to do well with all the rain we received. There was at most a 2-3 week period where there was no rain at all. Only irrigated once.
Many other trees were affected by the cold winter. There were no black walnuts or Saskatoons. Any heartnuts disappeared before the end of July and there were no PawPaws or Shellbark Hickory nuts. There was a reasonable crop of chestnuts, but somewhat diminished from past years. The northern pecans had blossoms and it looked like some nuts were present way up in the trees. The absence of crows in the pecans trees in October indicated a very light crop.
The blueberries came on fully in early July, and we had a few pickings. Then the robins arrived and stripped all berries blue or green in a week! Never seen that. Usually we get beat up pretty bad, but they leave a few for late August. It was an interesting summer with regards to mowing. Where the grass normally stops growing in early July and your round up application lasts for a month or more, this year we were lucky to get more than 3 weeks out of an application. Constant mowing well into September.
We are hoping that 2015 will bring a good growing season. The hazelnuts are loaded with catkins all ready for next April.
On the bright side of things, we continue to have about 140 hazelnut trees that have been growing without EFB for 17 to 20 years. This is a very good record and should lead to some useful new varieties. Two of our trees have been selected by the University of Guelph to be part of the first round of hazelnut plantings. They are Norfolk C16 and Chelsea C28. Both have very good cold weather hardiness for their catkins and pollen survival. They should be well suited for placement in the zone 5 growing region. They produce oval shaped nuts that relegate them to pollinators for the Jefferson type "round" shaped nuts favoured by Ferrero. They both shed their skins well when roasted and are quite tasty. They will do well in the fresh market. We have planted test plots of the Jefferson and Yamhill varieties to see how they develop and produce.
I have placed nine varieties of hazelnuts just north of Arthur on trial to see how they survive. This is cooler, marginal zone 5, but they do have black walnuts in the area. Time will tell. We have noticed a new trick from the coyotes this fall. They have started chewing on the exposed ends of the irrigation lines. That is not too bad and easy to fix. Then, once they get bored with that, they grab the ends and run with it, pulling up, at times, over 50 ft. of the buried line, dragging it across the orchard. Not sure of the cure for this except a diet of high speed lead! We are looking forward to 2015 season. Hopefully there will a large crop to make up for the lack of nuts in 2014.
I had some spare time over the Christmas break and thought it would be a good idea to run the lawn mowers a bit, so I ran them around some of the chestnut trees to chop up some of the leaves that had accumulated. I was quite surprised to find a hidden hoard of chestnuts under the leaves that we had missed. Upon closer observation the were all in excellent condition with no mold build up at all. Stay tuned.
Another year has come to a close and exciting nut projects are on the horizon. New acreages of hazelnuts have been added this year and more are planned for next year. The recently formed Ontario Hazelnut Association is spearheading the project.
www.ontariohazelnuts.com: Check out the site and the annual meeting in March. Farmers are taking on the challenge of producing nuts for Ferrero Roche in Brantford as well as the open market. Eventually 20,000 acres are expected to be planted to this crop here in Ontario.
Ferrero is interested in cultivars like Yamhill and Jefferson for their product lines. These selections were bred by the researcher Shawn Mehlenbacher at the Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. He has been working on highly productive, new selections that are resistant and or immune to Eastern filbert blight. Unfortunately these selections are best suited to the milder areas of Ontario, namely in the Niagara and South Western Ontario tender fruit growing regions.
Tom Molnar at Rutgers University has been breeding hazelnuts in an effort to combat the disease too. He cultured many strains of this disease and through inoculation is weeding out the susceptible trees. Hopefully new selections will be introduced by his work in the next few years.
The Heartnut is getting a boost from the University of Guelph engineers. A project is being started to invent the elusive heartnut cracker through a grant. This is the 4th effort to produce a suitable cracker for this nut. Once it is done, it will make heartnut a truly commercial crop for Ontario as well as other regions. Shelled heartnuts will be available expanding the market almost limitlessly.
Black walnut is also a potential commercial enterprise here. Ontario is endowed with an abundance of wild black walnuts growing over all of Southern Ontario and the nuts are largely going to waste. New inventions have made collecting this crop attractive. The Wizard is a unique tool for collecting the nuts from the ground with a minimum of stoop work.
Affordably priced colour sorters are on the market now that will separate the cracked black walnut shells from the nut meats at high speed and great accuracy. These two inventions will create new opportunities for entrepreneurs in Ontario.
I am proud to say that without your support and loyalty to SONG none of these advancements would have materialized.
We should be nuts about nutrient-packed nuts
Lena H. Sun, The Hamilton Spectator
Even though nutrition experts say it's a good idea to eat nuts to keep your heart healthy, only four in 10 adults eat nuts on any given day, and more women than men consume nuts, according to a recent U.S. federal study.
Nuts are packed with nutrients and high in protein, and their consumption has been linked in studies to a reduced incidence of heart disease in both men and women.
Federal dietary guidelines say that 1.5 ounces of nuts, or about a handful, is the daily amount that may reduce heart disease. That's roughly 240 and 280 calories, depending on the type of nut.
The new report by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention found that almost 40 per cent of adults ate nuts on a given day, that older men and women (age 60 and over) ate more nuts than their younger counterparts, and that whites ate far more nuts than did other racial groups.
Most nuts were eaten as stand-alone items, but included nut butters and nuts as ingredients in candy, breads, cookies and other mixed foods.
The study's definition of nuts include a wide variety of nuts as well as peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, sesame paste and tahini.
Still, of those who were eating nuts, only 14 per cent of men and 12 per cent of women were eating the recommended amount for cardiovascular health, said Samara Joy Neilson, a nutritional epidemiologist and lead author of the study.
The Canadian Chestnut Council Annual Meeting
On October 18, the CCC held its annual meeting at the Tim Horton Onondaga Farm near St. George, Ontario. The visiting speaker was Dr. Sandra Annagnostakis from the Connecticut Research Station. She is the foremost chestnut researcher in North America. She spoke about the history of the American chestnut, the introduction of the chestnut blight pathogen, and the impact the disease had on the regions that depended on it. The meeting ended with a visit to the hectares of American chestnut hybrid backcrosses that were made. Sandra's crosses were used in doing some of the initial work.
Provided by SONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.