Enter the Wonderful World of Nuts

If you live where nut trees grow wild, you can bring home bags of nuts for free. But there are fewer and fewer wild nut trees. So consider planting some. Nuts provide fat, protein, and, in the case of acorns, carbohydrates. Most seedling nut trees take 5-10 years, or longer, to bear, but once started they continue producing crops year after year with practically no care—as well as providing a bonus of beauty and shade. World-wide there are nearly 1,000 kinds of nut trees, but in North America there are relatively few types, each with distinct climate requirements. So what nut varieties you can grow depends above all on where you live. climate: If you live in Southern California you can raise macadamia nuts. In North Central California, almonds and Persian or Carpathian walnuts are primarily grown. If you live in the Southwest, you can grow pine nuts; in the Southeast, pecans. California, Oregon, and Washington grow fine filberts, hazelnuts, and Persian or Carpathian walnuts. The Northwest is excellent for chestnuts. Black walnuts can be grown well in the central and eastern United States. Nut tree nurseries, agricultural universities, and individuals are constantly working to develop improved varieties of each nut. Incidentally, peanuts are not technically a nut, but rather a southern-suited legume, a member of the pea family. nuts for Sale: The best-selling volume market nuts from wild trees are pecans and black walnuts. Statistically, almonds are the number 1 nut grown and sold in the United States in terms of volume produced, followed by Persian walnuts, with pecans coming in third. Chestnuts and pistachio nuts are right up there too. Commercial nut growers must invest in expensive machines that shake trees and other machines that pick up nuts, as well as drying and storage buildings, grading, shelling, and packing equipment. But there are also nut growers who make a living using very old-fashioned production and processing methods.

Nut timber: Some nut varieties, especially black walnut, are grown for their valuable timber. To do that, plant closer than for an orchard and prune to a strong central leader. As they grow taller, every fall cut off several of the lower branches until you have an 18-20 feet trunk or "bole." Allow at least 2 times as much branched area on the trunk as limb-free trunk. It's better to cut those lower limbs (making a straight, valuable trunk) while the tree is small and young rather than later when the wound may be larger and may never properly heal over, resulting in a scarred trunk. Butternut, black walnut, chestnut, and pecan woods are particularly prized for making paneling and furniture. NUT BOOKS: Look in your library for Nut Tree Culture in North America (Richard A. Jaynes, editor), which offers a wealth of information for serious nut growers. "The Annual Report" (1910-present), put out by the Northern Nut Growers Association, contains lots of nut culture info. Other good sources are Nuts for the Food Gardener by Louise Riotte (Garden Way, 1975), and The Improved Nut Trees of North America by C.A. Reed and J. Davidson (1958).

I'll describe only about 20 nuts in this book, a fraction of the world's nut-bearing plants. Read about the rest of them in Edible Nuts of the World by Edwin A. Menninger. NUTWORKING: These organizations welcome questions from amateurs.

Illinois Nut Tree Association: Robert Adams, Treasurer;

309-367-4650; RR 3, Metamora, IL 61548-9310. Kansas Nut Growers Association: William Reid, Secretary; 620-597-2972; PO Box 247, Chetopa, KS 67336. Nebraska Nut Growers Association: Todd Morrissey, Treasurer, 402-472-3674; 122 Mussehl Hall, East Campus, U. of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 685830714.

Northern Nut Growers Association: members include commercial nut growers, nut scientists, and amateurs. Visit their website for nut tree info and to ask questions of an expert: www.nutgrowing.org. NNGAs Membership Directory, quarterly newsletter, The Nutshell, "Annual Report," access to the lending library, and an invitation to the annual meeting—all for $20/yr: Nancy Pettit, Treasurer; 302-659-1731; fax 302-659-1732; PO Box 550, Townsend, DE 197340550; [email protected]. Pennsylvania Nut Growers Association: Tucker Hill, Assistant Secretary, edits PNGAs quarterly newsletter, The Nut Kernel, and is the person who answers questions. I am indebted to him for reading this section, painstakingly correcting my errors, and supplying valuable info: call/fax 717-938-6090; 654 Beinhower Rd., Et-ters, PA 17319-9774; [email protected]. Society of Ontario Nut Growers (SONG) is a Canadian association of nut growers interested in hardy nuts and good publications: Ernie Grimo, Treasurer, RR 3, Nia-gara-on-the-Lake, Ontario LOS 1J0, CANADA.

Continue reading here: Getting Started

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