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    Walnut

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    Overview

    Black walnut and butternut roots excrete an acid (juglone) that inhibits the growth of many plants, so plant far away from vegetables and flowers. Weed control is vital to the initial years of walnut tree growth. All walnuts benefit from mulching. Walnut trees grown for nut crops require large crowns while those grown for veneers need a straight trunk. To grow for both, veneer requirements prevail, so prune for straight growth.

    Carpathian walnuts grow rapidly, about 4 – 5 feet per year. Black walnuts, the largest Juglans, bear nuts that are high in protein and polyunsaturated oils and should be used sparingly in cooking. Grafted trees usually yield 3 – 4 times higher kernel filling than seedlings.

    Butternuts, or white walnuts, are the hardiest Juglans. They don’t require as much water and also have a rich buttery taste. Buy as a small tree if possible to minimize injury to the taproot which, in Juglans, is very straight and long. True nut flavor and quality may not emerge for 2 – 3 years after bearing, so don’t judge trees prematurely.

    Harvesting Walnuts

    Due to the indelible stains imparted by the husks, always wear gloves. Remove the outer husks within 1 week of harvest; let dry for several days, after which the husks will be easy to remove. There are 2 methods to de-husk the nut.

    1. Use a corn sheller equipped with a flywheel and pulley, driven by ¼ hp motor.
    2. Take them to a professional huller.

    Storage Requirements

    Rinse off hulled nutshells and place in water. Remove the rotten and diseased nuts that float to the top. Dry and cure in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area by spreading them in a single layer. They’re ready for storage when the kernels rattle in the shell, 1 – 2 weeks, or when unshelled kernels snap when bent.

    Store shelled nuts in plastic bags with holes, or in tightly sealed tin cans lined with paper (with a hole punctured in the side of the can beneath the lid), or freeze. Store unshelled nuts in an unheated shed over the winter; in spring move them to a cool place. Fresh walnuts can be stored at 32° – 36°F for 1 year.

    Pests

    Aphidsblue jay, codling moth, fall webworm, mouse, navel orangeworm, squirrel, walnut caterpillar, walnut husk fly, walnut maggot.

    Diseases

    Crown gall, walnut anthracnose, walnut blight, walnut bunch.

    Height

    20 – 80 ft.

    Breadth

    20 – 40 ft.

    Spacing

    10 ft. When 10 ft in diameter (about 25 years), thin to 22-50 ft.

    Root Depth

    Very deep

    pH

    5.5 – 7.0

    Bearing Age

    • 3 – 5 years for nuts
    • 10 – 20 years to produce veneer for the market.

    Pollination

    All need cross-pollination.

    Chilling Requirements

    All walnuts require some chilling hours.

    Site

    Full sun; deep, well-drained loam. Don’t plant anywhere near a vegetable garden or orchard.

    Water

    Medium

    Fertilizer

    Don’t fertilize the first year. In following years, apply compost or well-rotted manure.

    Training

    Free-standing tree: Central leader

    Pruning

    Unlike most fruit and nut trees, prune in the fall. Don’t start until 4 – 5 years old. Cut out dead or diseased wood, and crossed or competing branches.

    Video Credits: The Gourmet Pantry
    Image Credits: SilverJinx

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