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Growing Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

Updated on December 30, 2012

Obtain your walnut trees from the wild, in the woods.


Growing black walnuts can be fun and easy: very easy.

Growing black walnut trees is a long term project, not a "get-rich-quick" undertaking. Having said this, it is worth the time and effort (that is the wait) to establish a stand of black walnut trees to call your own. Black walnut can be grown for timber and for nuts, or for both. Most states have departments of agriculture who have experienced foresters working therein who can help you with the development of a management plan, and with monitoring your progress, free of charge. They are there to help you, and they like helping you.

Walnut trees are very valuable. If one considers what walnut wood costs, per board foot, it is surely one of the most valuable tree species. Globally, the demand for walnut wood products are high, because walnut wood has a beautiful color, it is very strong, it is durable, the dimensional stability (after drying, is good) and it has excellent machining qualities. The edible nuts, for the walnut tree, are very tasty, and wildlife love walnut for food.

For four generations, farmers in my family have considered black walnut trees one of our most handsome investments for the future.

The Mamushi Nature Farm approach for the production of walnut trees is as follows:

1. Where to get seedlings or nuts: Obtain your trees (seedlings or nuts) from locally available sources, if at all possible. Experts strongly recommend that your source of seedlings or nuts should not be more than 200 miles south or 50 miles north of your "planned planting site." This is a very narrow range that you have to select your seedlings and nuts from. The way I select seedlings and nuts is, "I select them from my own enchanted valley." In other words, I select seedlings and nuts from within a very, very narrow range. I already have walnut trees growing and producing nuts, in my valley, so, I find no real need to venture out of my own ecological niche to obtain anything. I even save my own vegetable seeds, and seeds from my own fruit trees, as best that I can.

2. Planting nuts:

There is a lot of information, that have been written, on how to prepare nuts for planting in the ground. I am a Japanese Nature farmer, therefore, I do not go through a lot of fancy steps to grow trees from my seeds. Be aware, that animals, especially squirrels, white-tailed deer, woodpeckers, and others, love to eat walnuts. It is common knowledge among farmers that, "If you want to plant walnuts, take two bushels of nuts into your wooded area, one bushel for the squirrels to bury (they will eat this later), and one bushel for them to bury (and they will forget where they buried them), and these will grow up to be trees.

3. Don't forget about the stratification process, to ensure success:

Walnut seeds require stratification (cold treatment) before they will germinate. You can take a small number of nuts and stratify them in a plastic bag in a refrigerator at 34 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 to 120 days. If you have a great amount of nuts that you want to stratify for a spring planting, you can dig a pit, spread the nuts out in it, and then cover them with 1 to 2 feet of sand, leaves, or mulch. You will need to protect your pit by covering it over with a screen to keep out the squirrels and other animals that will surely eat the walnuts.

4. Planting the nuts:

We have moved through the writing of this discourse fairly quickly. We have written 600 words already, but this is not enough information to make you an expert on growing walnut trees. You will need to know more.

However, when you ready to plant your nuts in the spring, after the ground is thawed, dig up your nuts and plant them 1 to 2 inches deep in the site that you have prepared. Plant two nuts to each planting spot. You can expect half of the nuts to germinate in 4 to 5 weeks. Some of your nuts will germinate the following year (only Nature knows what Nature will actually do). If your seedlings come up too thick (the little trees being too close together), remove the excess to allow for adequate growing space, because crowding is not good for walnut trees that will grow up to be very large trees, over time.

I wish you the best in your black walnut tree growing adventure.


Dr. Haddox


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