Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Essential Guide to Probably Everything you Need to Know about Growing Walnuts - Juglans regia

If I were to tell you of an apocalypse proof asset that is 100% guaranteed to increase in value, both in the short (3 yrs) and long term (300 yrs), will contribute to your good health, provides aesthetic pleasure to your surroundings, has the potential to replicate itself exponentially and has parts that can be dipped into smooth melted dark chocolate, covered in cocoa powder and eaten, surely you'll be chuffed to learn that I'm referring to none other than Juglans regia - The Walnut tree.

Walnuts for Permaculture, Polyculture, Forest Gardens, and Food Forests 

   
At the moment I'm struggling to think of a better thing to do than to plant a walnut tree, other than to plant more than one walnut tree:) So here I present the Essential Guide to Everything you Need to Know about Walnuts.

During this article we'll be focusing on the Persian Walnut  - Juglans regia  first providing an overview of the plant followed by advice on where to plant, how to care for, uses of walnuts and a look at some good companions plants for walnuts. We'll also profile three productive and disease resistant Walnut cultivars that we are offering from our forest garden plant nursery.

Overview  


Juglans regia is known by several common names including Persian walnut, common walnut, English walnut, Carpathian walnut and Madeira nut. The natural range of this plant is from the Carpathian mountains through the middle east and into the Himalayas.




Description

Walnuts are fast growing trees that develop broad canopies reaching 18 m width and 30 m in height. It is a light-demanding species, requiring full sun to grow well.

A walnut compound leaf.
photo from - www.tree-guide.com/common-walnut

The buds awaken from winter dormancy in  mid April - late May (depending on cultivar) and leaf fall occurs in early November. The large compound leaves give off a lemon /lime scent particularly when crushed. The flowers open before or around the same time as the leaves and you can find both male and female flowers on the plant (monoecious). The male flowers are slender catkins and the female flowers are smaller often found on the tips of the branches. Pollination is carried out by the wind.
 




Growing Range 

Walnuts from the middle east and the Persian strains, are hardy to zone 5 (-23 °C) while the Carpathian strains can withstand temperatures as low as -32 °C (zone 4). You can't grow these plants in the lower latitude areas without at least 500-1500 hrs per year of temperatures below 7 °C. At high latitude climate the young shoots and flowers are susceptible to frost damage in the spring, and early frosts in the autumn can cause damage to new shoots.

Pollination 

Walnuts have both male and female flower parts on the same tree (monoecious). The pollen is shed from the male flowers and should settle on the females flowers. The pollen is physically very small and light and can travel quite some distance. Studies have shown in certain orchards that wind blown pollen came from trees over a mile away.

Juglans regia - Female and Male Flowers 


If the pollen from the male flower settles on the female flower at the point that they are receptive, fertilisation is likely to occur and the female flower will go on to develop into nuts. The time of pollen shedding from the male flower does not always overlap well with the time of female flower receptivity to pollen. This condition is referred to as dichogamy. To overcome this problem growers can select another walnut cultivar (a pollinator) the male flowers of which open at the same time as the female flowers from the main cultivar. The pollinator should be situated upwind from the main crop. If you have other walnuts upwind from your site you should not have problems with this.    
 
Nearly all commercial orchards are co-planted with a pollinator variety to ensure the main crop gets enough pollen to set nuts. The recommendations for optimal pollination in an orchard environment is to plant one row of pollinators for every 8 main crop rows and to plant the row of pollinators upwind.

In some cultivars Walnut fruits form on the tips of the new seasons growth on other cultivars the fruit is formed on the lateral shoots.

Lateral Bearers 
Lateral bearing cultivars bear fruits on lateral buds of shoots and are generally of  higher productivity than terminal and intermediate bearers due to the larger number of fruit buds on these plants.

Terminal/Tip Bearers
Terminal bearing cultivars bear fruits on the tips of the shoots.



Tip bearing cultivar from a tree at our market garden site 


Propagation 

Walnut trees commonly reproduce in the wild and are very easy to grow from seed. A tree grown from seed will start to produce fruit in 8 -12  yrs, it's not certain that it will share the characteristics of the parent trees. Walnut cultivars are grafted and will start to fruit in the fifth year. Seeing as most cultivars are 2 yrs old when you buy them, the trees can start to bear fruit on the 3rd year after planting. (for expected yields see below)


Where to Plant 


Location - The best locations for walnut trees are sunny, relatively sheltered sites. Frost pockets should be avoided.

Soil - The ideal soil is a deep, fertile, well drained loam with a pH between 6 and 7 (4.3 - 8.3 tolerated), although I've seen magnificent specimens growing in heavy clay on the river banks and trees tolerating a wide range of soil conditions.

Inhibitors - Walnuts produce a growth inhibitor - juglone - that has a detrimental effect on some species of plants growing nearby (negative allelopathy). Experimental studies have shown that juglone can inhibit plant respiration, depriving sensitive plants of needed energy and reducing the plants ability to uptake water and nutrients. There are many plants that do not seem to be affected by juglone (see below)

Comfrey 'Bocking 14' growing in the shade of a 20 year old Walnut 


Walnut Pollination - When planting your walnut it's important to consider a pollination partner if you would like to maximise your yields. (see above)


Fertility, Irrigation and Care 


Fertility - It's advisable to not add compost to the roots of walnuts when planting out and to add just a little top dressing compost to your newly planted trees.  In  the 2nd year, adding around 10 L of compost to the base of the tree in the spring will meet the plants growing nitrogen (N) demands. Too much N makes the trees more susceptible to Walnut Blight.

Irrigation - Should not be necessary unless rainfall is below 600 mm per year and is uneven in distribution throughout the year. In my climate in South-East Europe, Bulgaria  I give my young trees 20 L once every two weeks during the summer months. Never use a sprinkler or hose to water and avoid splashing water onto the leaves as this will promote the development of Walnut Blight.  

Weeding - Its important to keep the trees free from weeds whilst they establish as young trees are intolerant of competition especially from grass. Mulching the trees annually with card and straw will work well but take care to keep the collar free from mulch to prevent it from rotting.

Potential Problems


Sunburn: can occur in excessive summer heat (38C) and the kernels can shrivel and darken. This is more so of a problem if the tree is under moisture stress.

Cold injury: Young trees are very susceptible to frost damage. Flowers can be destroyed in early frosts so it's important to select late flowering cultivars if your planting site experiences early frosts.  

Insect/Pest: Codling moth (Cydia pomonella), Navel orangeworm (Amyelois transitella), Walnut husk fly (Rhagoletis completa), aphids, scales and mites; nematodes (Pratylenchus vulnus)

Disease: Blight (Xanthomonas campestris); blackline (cherry leaf roll virus); root and crown rots (Phytophthora spp., Armillaria mellea); deep bark canker (Erwinia rubrifaciens); crown gall (Agrobacterium tumefaciens).  


Walnut Blight on our garden trees following an unusually wet spring and summer of 2013   

Walnut uses  

Beyond the nutritious delicious nuts the other parts of the Walnut plant can be used for a variety of purposes.  


Timber - The timber is very stable, hardly warps at all and after proper seasoning swells very little. The wood is straight grained, quite durable, slightly coarse (silky) in texture so easily held, strong, of medium density and can withstand considerable shock.  It is easy to work and holds metal parts with little wear or risk of splitting.  The heartwood is mottled with brown, chocolate, black and light purple colours intermingled. Some of the most attractive wood comes from the root crown area from which fine burr walnut veneers can be obtained.

Nuts - Nuts can be eaten raw, salted or pickled. Nuts must have an oil content of at least 50% to store successfully, nuts with 30 - 50% oil content have a higher moisture level and tend to shrivel in storage, so must be eaten immediately or preserved,

The essential guide to everything you need to know to grow walnuts 


Oil - Can be pressed from the ripe nuts (sometimes over 50% by weight of kernels). The oil can be used raw, for cooking or as a butter substitute.  

Leaves  - Leaves can be used to make a wine.

Sap -The sap of the tree is edible, in the same way as that of the sugarmaple.

Medicinal uses - Several parts of the tree have medicinal uses.  The leaves and bark have alterative, laxative, astringent and detergent properties, and are used for the treatment of skin diseases; in addition the bark is a purgative.  Leaves should be picked in June or July in fine weather, and dried quickly in a shady, warm, well ventilated place.
-The juice of the green husks, boiled with honey, is a good gargle for sore throats.
-The oil from nuts can be used for colic and skin diseases.
-The husks, shells and peel are sudorific, especially when green.

Other uses - The green husks can be boiled to produce a dark yellow dye; the leaves contain a brown dye used on wool and to stain skin.

The oil has been used for making varnishes, polishing wood, in soaps and as a lamp oil.

The leaves have insect repellent properties; in former times horses were rested underneath walnut trees to relieve them from insect irritation.


Walnuts uses section from Martin Crawford's Agroforestry News Volume 1 Number 1 - Persian Walnuts




A brief intermission to let you know we've revamped our Online Store where you can find Forest Garden/ Permaculture Plants, Seeds, Cuttings, Bulbs, Rhizomes and Polyculture Multi-packs along with digital goods and services such as Online Courses, Webinars, eBooks, and Online Consultancy and finally we've added a Bulk Fruit and Nut Tree order form for Farms, Orchards, Nurseries, and Large Regenerative Landscape Projects. If there is anything in the store you would like to see but is not there, please let us know. We hope you enjoy the store and find something you like :) It's your purchases that keep our Project going. Thank you. Enter Our Store Here


Walnut  Yields


Walnuts grown from seed may not provide any nuts until they reach sexual maturity at 10 - 13 years of age. Grafted cultivars generally start to fruit in their 5th year. Most grafted cultivars are 2 yrs old so you can expect to receive the first crops in the 3rd year after planting. Below is a table showing the estimated yields of a walnut tree over time.  

Yield per tree Yield per acre
4050m2
Yield per Ha
10000m2
3-5 year 5 kg200 kg 500kg
10-15 years 50 kg2 tonnes 5 tonnes
Max Production75 kg 3 tonnes 7.5 tonnes 

Companion Plants for Walnuts 


Walnuts, along with hickories, produce the chemical juglone, which is exuded from all parts of the plant. This chemical can inhibit the growth rate of nearby plants, a phenomenon known as negative alleopathy. This combined with the heavy water demands of larger trees and the deep shade cast in high summer presents challenges to effective companion planting but much can be grown in the under story during the first 15 - 20 years


20 yr old Walnut in our Garden  with Sambucus nigra, Aronia melanocarpa and Pyrus cv. doing very well 


Juglone Toleranace 

Here's alist of plants that have been observed to grow well under walnuts and are considered tolerant to Juglone. Bear in mind that few plants have been experimentally tested for sensitivity to juglone.

The plants highlighted in green are species I have personally observed growing seemingly unhindered in and around the under story of Juglans regia

Walnuts from our Gardens  

Many factors affect sensitivity, including level of contact, health of the plant, soil environment, and the overall site conditions. Aside from juglone, a mature walnut will cast a very heavy shade and young sun demanding plants will not survive in these conditions. The list provided here is strictly a guide and should not be considered complete or definitive.





If you have experience of plants growing well under and around a Juglone producing plant that are not on this list, please share in the comments section below. 


If you would like to learn how to design, build and manage polycultures,  we've just launched our very first Regenerative Landscape Design - Online Interactive Course -  How to Design, Build and Manage Polycultures for Landscapes, Gardens, and Farms.

We're super excited about running the course and if you are interested in joining us we look forward to providing you with the confidence, inspiration, and opportunity to start to build regenerative landscapes, gardens, and farms that produce food and other resources for humans while enhancing biodiversity.

Regenerative Landscape Design Online Course

You can find out more about the course here to see if it tickles your fancy, and if you subscribe to our newsletter below or you already have subscribed you are welcome to a 20% discount on the full enrollment fees for this course.  Just use the promo code SUB2020 in the section of the registration form to receive your discount. This offer is valid until the 15th of February 2020.


                                                                        


We are looking forward to providing you with this unique online learning experience - as far as we know the very first of its kind, and if you are thinking of reasons why you should do this course and whether this course is suitable for you, take a look here where we lay it all out.


Walnut Cultivars - Hardy and Resistant to Major Pest and Diseases 


Below you can find profiles of some Bulgarian cultivars that we have on offer at our Bio-nursery. These cultivars  are high yielding and resistant to common walnut diseases. 

We are currently offering these cultivars at ​​ €22 per tree with 10% discount for orders over 10 trees. Delivery all other Europe

For other disease resistant walnut cultivars see Agroforestry Research Trust.

Walnut cultivars for Permaculture and Forest Gardens 


Cultivar - 'Izvor 10'

  • Fruiting - The fruit forms on lateral buds and ripen around mid September. Excellent tasting oblong nuts with a thin shell. The nuts weigh around 10 g have a high fat content - 55.7%.
  • Disease Resistance - Excellent resistance to Walnut anthracnose and Walnut blight
  • Form - The tree forms a broad, relatively thin crown
  • Hardiness - A very hardy cultivar tolerating temperatures down to -25 - 30 ºС
  • Flowering Period - Late

Cultivar - 'Sheinovo'

  • Fruiting - The fruit forms on the tips and ripen around mid September. Excellent tasting nuts that are easy to remove from the thin shell. The nuts weigh around 12 -13 g and have a high fat content - 71.4% . 
  • Disease Resistance - Good resistance to Walnut anthracnose and Walnut blight 
  • Form - The tree is vigorous with a wide spread crown 
  • Hardiness - A hardy cultivar tolerating temperatures down to -24 ºС 
  • Flowering Period - Mid - Late

Cultivar - 'Dryanovo'

  • Fruiting - Fruits for on the tips of branches and ripen to very large 14 - 18 g round nuts. The fat content is 67.39%. 
  • Disease Resistance - Very resistant to anthracnose, though very susceptible to blight. 
  • Form - The tree is vigorous with dome shaped crown 
  • Hardiness - A hardy cultivar tolerating temperatures down to -24 ºС 
  • Flowering Period - Mid - Late

To order some walnut cultivars for delivery this winter contact us at balkanecologyproject@gmail.com

Keeping  in touch 


If you would like to receive our new articles and updates, enter your email below and hit subscribe.


Upcoming Forest Garden Courses 


If you would like to create a forest garden and gain some practical hands-on experience come and join us for our Design and Build a Forest Garden Course. We'll be covering site surveying, landscape design software, installing access, beds, irrigation channels, planting tree, shrub, herb and ground layers, and wildlife ponds. All in 3 days! And plenty of follow up material to take away with you to digest slowly.


Registration for our course is now open with a 15% discount on accommodation and food fees when you register as a group (2 or more). You can also take advantage of early booking discounts if you book 3 months before the course starts.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Please Consider Supporting Our Efforts 


Our project grows with our desire to provide better quality information. Our overheads and demands on our time also grow along with our development and this presents a challenge for us to maintain the project and activities. We do not receive any government, institutional or NGO funding for our project and rely on revenue from sales of our courses, plants, consultancy, and design work along with the support of our amazing volunteers to develop and manage the gardens and are very grateful for this. So please consider joining us for a course or event, purchasing products and services from our online store or plants from our bio nursery, participating in our online educational platforms and support the project while we support you. Feeling super generous today? You can also support us directly with a one-time donation or become a sponsor of our project providing monthly support. With your support, we will continue to improve on producing quality information and data for the community, building a world-class demonstration landscape and progress on our mission to develop and promote practices that can produce food and other resources for humans while enhancing biodiversity.

 

We also accept donations via bank transfer in USD - EURO - GBP - AUD - NZD  - (please email for account details) and via peer to peer distributed ledger - BTC - ETH



If you are not in a financial position to purchase our products and services or donate please comment, like and share our work. This helps us to spread our work further afield and is much appreciated.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Would you like to be involved in the project next season?  1-6 month placements on our polyculture study are now open. 


Permaculture and Regenerative Design Internships


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We offer a diversity of plants and seeds for permaculture, forest gardens and regenerative landscapes including a range of fruit and nut cultivars. We Deliver all over Europe from Nov - March. - Give a happy plant a happy home :)


Our Bio-Nursery - Permaculture/Polyculture/ Regenerative Landscape Plants 


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Design and Create Webinars - Forest Gardens, Urban Gardens, Permaculture, Regenerative Farming   


We're hosting a range of online learning sessions including how to create habitat to enhance biodiversity, how to design and build a forest garden, polyculture design software tutorials, regenerative farm, and landscape design, urban gardening and much more. If you would like to be notified when our next sessions are coming up please add your email below and hit subscribe and we'll be in touch.




You can also register for our online training, services, and products directly here.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




If you appreciate the work we are doing you can show your support in several ways.

  • Comment, like and share our content on social media.

 

References 

  • Evaluation of Some Walnut Cultivars under the Climatic Conditions of South Bulgaria - Stefan Gandev1, Vasiliy Dzhuvinov1
  • Agroforestry News Volume 1 - Number 1 -4  - 1992 Nut Profile; Persian Walnut - Martin Crawford 
  • GANDEV, S., 2013. Winter hardiness of reproductive organs of the walnut cultivars Izvor 10, Lara and Fernor at extreme low temperatures in South Bulgaria. Bulg. J. Agric. Sci., 19: 1068-1070
  • Landscaping and Gardening Around Walnuts and Other Juglone Producing Plants - James Sellmer - http://extension.psu.edu/plants/gardening/fact-sheets/trees-shrubs/landscaping-and-gardening-around-walnuts-and-other-juglone-producing-plants
  • http://extension.psu.edu/plants/gardening/fact-sheets/trees-shrubs/landscaping-and-gardening-around-walnuts-and-other-juglone-producing-plants

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for this interesting information provided

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you , glad to hear you enjoyed it

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dandelion grow well under my walnut tree.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Søren, i've added that to the list.

      Delete