walnut trees that have been grafted to improved cultivars
have potential for excellent production and financial return.
Some farmers grow the walnuts on their land, pick and sell
extra money, but there is a potential to do much more using
According to Brian Hammons of Hammons Products Company in Stockton,
Missouri, a landowner with a 40-acre planting of cultivar nuts
(60x60 spacing = 480 trees) could be producing as much as
80,000 pounds of nuts and generating an additional $56,000 income
(about a $32,000 profit after hulling and hauling).
Growers interested in producing a commercially marketable nut crop need
to be growing thin-shelled nuts with a high-quality nut meat.
This is only possible by growing black walnut trees that have been
grafted to cultivars of known nut and tree characteristics, and
preferably those that will fruit every
the wild nuts grown provide a certain amount of nut meats for
consumers, companies like Hammons Products will pay more for growers of
2006, Hammons purchased 41,000
pounds of black walnuts from 11
growers with cultivars like Kwik Krop, Emma-K, TomBoy and others. These
nuts were purchased at about .50 cents per pound and had a yield
average of about 23.4 percent
kernel. The highest price paid was .82 cents per pound, according to
By comparison, wild trees have a yield rate of about 7 percent
kernel and are typically purchased for eight to 13 cents per pound.
For growers interested in making additional money from nuts, the
University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry offers a guide
entitled, "Growing Black Walnuts for Nut Production."
for Successful Harvesting
The flavor of black walnut lends a gourmet touch to cookies, breads,
cakes and other baked goods. To achieve the best quality, nuts need to
ripen on the tree.
One way to tell whether black walnuts have ripened is by the color of
the husk, which will change from solid green to yellowish green when
the walnut is ripe.
To prepare walnuts for storage, first remove the husk (one
method is to place the nut with husk on a hard surface and rolling it
under a heavy foot) and then wash the nuts (outdoors) to remove excess
juice and debris.
The next step is to cure the walnut by letting the nuts dry. This
prepares the nuts for storage and allows flavor to develop. The best
way to cure the nuts is to place them in a cool, dry, well-ventilated
area, out of direct sunlight for two weeks.
Unshelled nuts should be stored in a well-ventilated area at 60 degrees
Fahrenheit or less to discourage mold. Soaking them in water
for 24 hours will make the shell easier to crack
When walnut nutmeats are cracked out after curing, they can be put into
jars or heavy plastic bags and frozen. Shelled nuts can be refrigerated
up to nine months or frozen for up to two years. Two pounds of
unshelled black walnuts found in the wild will yield about a cupful of
Black walnuts selected for planting should be hulled and washed as soon
as they are collected. Then, eliminate nuts that may be poorly filled.
Place the nuts in a container of water. Dispose of those that float to
the top. These floaters are poorly filled and will not germinate well.
a fine seedbed in the planting area for black walnut seeds is the next
step. They can either be planted just after harvest or
stratified and planted the following spring.
Planting three to five nuts, about two inches deep, at each tree
location. Mark the area where nuts are planted and to keep the area
During the first year, select the strongest-growing tree and remove the
others by cutting them off below the root collar.
The University of Missouri Extension Center has published a guide
sheet, "Propagating Pecan and Black Walnut in Missouri."