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Basic Cultural Information

At this time we will focus on cultural information for the species of nut trees that will grow in NY state. We will continue to build on this information, as this is a work in progress and the intention is to expand this list to include other types of trees as well. This will progress as time permits. These are listed alphabetically by common name for ease of use. Nut tree growing , especially in New York state is largely an experimental endeavor. Our hope is to encourage and inspire you to try growing your own nut trees. Of course, you will have to beat the squirrels to the crop.

General instructions: newly planted trees will benefit from mulching to hold in soil moisture and keeping weeds in check. These are the two most important factors for young trees. In addition, the breakdown of the mulch material will add nutrients to the soil and improve soil texture. Manure or fertilizer should be applied early in the spring and may be continued until about July. After this date fertilizer should be withheld so as not to encourage new growth. The tree needs time to harden up for winter. Use any high nitrogen manure or fertilizer.

Black Walnut
Juglans nigra. Hardiness zones 4 through 8.
This tree is sensitive to soil conditions, doing best on deep, fertile, moderately well drained soil. Ideally, pH should be nearly neutral. Average germination is 60 to 70%. Weeds need to be controlled for best results for newly planted trees. Trees typically flower in late May or June in NY. This means they can be damaged by late spring frosts. They bear separate male and female flowers on the same tree. Fertilization takes place approximately 2 to 5 days after pollination, the nut reaches full size in August, and will ripen in late September or October. There are over 400 cultivars of Black Walnuts. Various cultivars can be productive in one area of the country and disappointing in other areas. It pays to take the time to determine which varieties or cultivars will work best in your area. Popular Cultivars

Butternut aka White Walnut
Juglans cinera. Hardiness zone 3
It can survive on poorer soils but does best on deep, fertile, moderately well drained soil, such as rich woodland soil. Like other walnuts, they bear separate male and female flowers on the same tree. Butternuts and other walnuts typically flower before Black Walnuts and will freely cross-pollinate if the trees are in proximity to each other. Weeds need to be controlled for best results for newly planted trees. Trees typically flower in May in NY. This means they can be damaged by late spring frosts. They ripen in the same time frame as other walnuts, in late September or October. Popular Cultivars

English Walnut aka Carpathian or Persian Walnut
Juglans regia. Hardiness zones 5 to 7, doing best in zone 6. Late spring freezes can limit its northern range. They will grow on a wide variety of soils, but do best in deep well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. pH should be 6 to 7. They benefit greatly from mulch to keep weeds down and provide the organic matter they need to thrive. English Walnuts are arguably the most popular of all nuts. Their thin, easily cracked shells and delicious nutmeats find their way into everything from salads to ice cream and brownies. Popular Cultivars

Hazelnut or Filbert Corylus avellana. Filberts do best in a climate that has cool summers and mild winters. It is a challenge to grow them in some parts of NY. Tree spacing should be between 10' minimum and 20' maximum. Tom Potts has generously donated his time to writing this article on his experiences with growing Hazelnuts in NY state. This is a PDF file so you will need Adobe Acrobat to read it. Click here for Tom's article

Heartnut or Japanase White Walnut
Juglans ailiantifolia var cordiformus. Hardiness zone 5. This tree is grown primarily in the northeast in areas too cold for English walnuts. They will do best in a maritime climate. The nuts are similar in taste to Butternut, but are more mild. The nuts are heart-shaped.

Hickory   Shagbark, Carya ovata; Shellbark, Carya lacinosa
Mockernut, C. tomentosa; Pignuts, C. glabra and ovalis
Hickories are found growing naturally in a wide variety of soils, but do best in deep, well-drained friable soil. Popular Cultivars

Pecan (hardy northern) Carya illinoensis. Pecans are actually a hickory and is the only species that is grown commercially. The growth and production of nuts is dependent on the length of the growing season, temperature, humidity, rainfall and storms. They require an abundant water supply, and average summer temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees F. Humidity needs to be below 80%. Storms and frosts also take a toll on crops of these trees. Popular Cultivars

 Chestnuts: Small Scale Chestnut Growing in NYS (8/11/14) by John Wertis

    This article is written for those who want to grow a few chestnut trees on their property for their beauty and their delicious nuts.  The information presented here has been gleaned from presentations at two New York Nut Growers Association meetings in 2014 and from a review of current literature on the subject from books and on-line sources.

     At the NYNGA Spring Meeting, Dennis Fullbright, Professor of Plant Pathology at Michigan State University, explained  the scientific basis for the establishment and success of commercial hybrid chestnut orchards in Europe and southern Michigan. Extensive literature on Michigan Chestnut growing is available at  <fulbrig1@msu.edu> and < http:chestnuts.msu.edu>. Dr. Fullbright presented the belief held by many that over time a virus began  to “parasitise” the chestnut blight fungus in specific geographic regions of Europe and the U.S.A. The blight fungus so parasitised is said to be “hypovirulent”;  it is less damaging to chestnuts than the uninfected original strain. Chestnuts have a better chance to grow and produce where the hypovirulent strains of blight occur, such as in Southern Michigan.  Research is on-going to see if hypovirulence can be introduced into other growing regions.
 
    If you are in Zone 5 or higher, you should be able to grow a  small planting of blight tolerant European/Japanese hybrid  chestnuts with little risk from freeze damage.  These trees should do well for you with low incidence of pests or problems for a number of years after planting. Chinese chestnuts may be more blight tolerant in New York State, but they tend to produce smaller than desirable nuts and are not totally  immune  to the blight themselves. Until the  American Chestnut Association releases trees that are blight resistant or immune at a  reasonable price, there is little reason to plant American chestnuts, except for the novelty of the idea. There is enough genetics in existing  wild American chestnut tree populations to host the blight fungus in their on-going evolutionary battle that may result in “hypovirulent strains” of blight   becoming dominant in our part of the world some day. 

    Based on the Michigan experience, for productive chestnut growing plant grafted cultivars of European/Japanese  hybrid chestnuts that  have established a good history for themselves. In Michigan, the industry is based on orchards that are dominantly “Colossal “trees. As  chestnuts are self-sterile, a pollinator cultivar must also be grown. Nevada's have been so employed in Colossal orchards but may be too sensitive to our NYS  winters. Other European x American hybrid cultivars that have been successful in Michigan include Bouche de Betizak, Precoce Migoule, Marki, Laborday, and Michigan Early.

    In his 2011 “A Practical Guide” book on nut tree growing, Southern Ontario nurseryman Ernie Grimo states  “the best adapted to resisting the disease (Chestnut blight) are the Chinese chestnuts and Chinese x American chestnut hybrids.” He goes on to indicate that they are “less hardy than the American and need to be grown in protected......environments for best success.” He lists the four most desirable characteristics for a chestnut cultivar   as (1) nut size,(2) production,  (3) ripening time, and (4) blight resistance. He cites the following cultivars: Douglas (Chinese x American), Layeroka (Chinese x ?), Colossal , Qing (Chinese), Lockwood (American x Chinese) and Grimo 150Y (Chinese).

    Sandra Anagnostakis,  of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, a respected, long -time researcher with chestnuts, lists (in order of largest to smaller nut size produced) Colossal, Bouche de Betizac, Willamette (Chinese x American), Revival ( ? ) ,  Skookum ( ? ), Sleeping Giant ( Chinese x American x Jap), Nanking, Eaton, AU Homestead,  and  Kuling. “Taste tests” that have been done on chestnuts suggest that the “sweetest” chestnuts are from American trees, with Chinese second, and European x Japanese hybrids third.

     Horticulturist Brian Caldwell has been growing chestnuts for 37 years in West Danby, NY, in a region slightly below Growing Zone 5. He has a “mixed orchard” of Japanese x European hybrids, Chinese, and  Chinese x American hybrids. He told the audience at the NYNGA August 2, 2014 meeting that he has had most success with Willamette (Chinese x American),  Armstrong (?Chinese x American, Eaton (Chinese x Jap x Amer ?),   Mossbarger (Chinese),  and Jersey Gem (?). and  less success with Lesesne (Chinese x Jap x American), 142Q (?), Luvall'sMonster (Chinese x American), and Dunstan. (American x Chinese).  Most of his trees have experienced  some degree of blight infection, but it took20 years for the Chestnut weevil to find his orchard.

    An emerging caution to be aware of: Colossal hybrid trees should not be planted in the vicinity of Chinese chestnuts that set pollen free. This “cross-pollination” appears to result in ”browning” of the nut meat and “kernel breakdown” in about 30% of the Colossal nuts thus exposed. 

    Burnt Ridge Nursery in Washington handles many of the Michigan recommended cultivars. Grimo Nut Nursery, Empire Chestnut Company, Nolin River Nut Tree Nursery, and Nursery Street Greenhouses, also handle a lot of the cultivars cited in this article. They and many others, including European sources, are listed in a Connecticut Research Station article available on-line at <http://www.nutgrowing.org/faqchest.htm>.

    A small group of grafted Colossal and Nevada trees  have been planted  this year (along with some other chestnut species and cultivars) at the John Gordon Demonstration Nut Grove near Trumansburg, NY.  Go to NYNGA on the internet  <www.nynga.org> for this and other nut tree plantings across NYS at the “Nut Tree Trail” section of that website. Visitors are welcome......to both the web-site and the plantings listed on the “Trail”!

 

 

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