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 Best small nut trees for the NW? 
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Joined: Mon Dec 08, 2008 8:22 am
Posts: 237
Location: SW Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Best small nut trees for the NW?
In planning out the future orchard, I've been musing about the different choices for nut trees in the NW.

Are there any nut trees or bushes that are all of these things:

  • Taste excellent (which by definition means it must produce nuts here!)
  • Less than 25 feet tall
  • Doesn't have a lot of insect or disease problems
  • Hopefully looks good
  • Self-fertile would be nice, but not necessary

It seems like everything violates one of these.

  • Chestnuts are too large
  • Hazelnuts have too many insect problems (is this true?)
  • Walnuts are too large
  • Butternuts and Heartnuts are too large, right?
  • Pecans don't ripen here.
  • Nut pines are too large
  • Almonds (don't do well here, right?)
  • Ginkgo are too large and I'm not sure of the taste
  • Monkey puzzle is too large
  • Anyone know about Yellowhorn?
  • Chilean Nut: this sounded really interesting. Anyone tasted it? How does it taste?

Any recommendations?

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Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:14 pm
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Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2004 8:14 pm
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Location: Aurora, Oregon
Post Re: Best small nut trees for the NW?
Garfield Shults of Homedale, ID has a bush form of English walnut that gets to be about six to eight feet tall. I have one started. The nuts are normal size and flavor. Walnuts are subject to husk fly in Oregon, but they mainly stain the nuts. Also, it would be simple to net a small tree with row fabric to prevent the flies from reaching it.
The trees come true from seed and Mr. Shults sells them for $1.25 a nut plus postage Hurry, it's nearly nut time now and he is old and may not have a lot of years left.
Mr. Garfield Shults
1526 Hill Road
Homedale, Idaho 83628


Thu Sep 24, 2009 7:45 pm
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Joined: Mon Dec 08, 2008 8:22 am
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Location: SW Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Re: Best small nut trees for the NW?
Wonderful, Lon! Thank you!

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Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:36 pm
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Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 10:57 am
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Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: Best small nut trees for the NW?
My filberts have never had insect damage. Squirrels steal them, yes, but no insect damage. Nuts are the favorite food of squirrels and they are hard to stop.

I have ordered Chilean nut from Burnt Ridge Nursery in Onalaska WA. I have confirmation from another person as well that if they dry out at all, they will dry. Keep their roots moist!

I have yellowhorn. It grows, the nuts pollinate, but they never seem to stay. Perhaps they are like some forms of cherries that with mild diseases they seem to lose the fruit.

John S
PDX OR


Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:10 pm
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Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2006 12:08 am
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Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: Best small nut trees for the NW?
Some nut trees which should meet your criteria:

-Hazelnuts (Squirrel and scrub jay problems, but not insects in my experience so far)
-Cephalotaxus sp, (Plum Yews - no personal experience with them, but Plants for a Future says they can grow in full shade, and they make an edible fruit with an edible nut inside which the squirrels don't know about to harvest)
-Castanea pumila, Chinquapin (chestnut genus. no personal experience, but supposed to be about 20' tall and make small but very tasty nuts)
-Almonds (One Green World now sells a few varieties that might do well in the PNW)
-Yellowhorn (great in theory. I haven't seen any actually set nuts.)
-Staphylea trifolia, American bladdernut (no personal experience. PFAF describes it as a shrubby producer of nice nuts.)

Hope that helps!
Norris


Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:21 am
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Location: Portland, OR
Post Staphylea trifolia, American bladdernut
Staphylea trifolia, American bladdernut is listed as self-incompatible. I don't have a botany degree, but doesn't that mean that another genetically different individual must pollinize it? Paw paw is that way. It might make it difficult to get it to pollinate. You might have to buy one from one company and another from a different one if they grow from cuttings.
John S
PDX OR


Fri Oct 30, 2009 9:51 pm
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Joined: Mon Dec 08, 2008 8:22 am
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Location: SW Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Re: Best small nut trees for the NW?
Norris, that is extremely helpful. Thank you -- there are some new ones there I've never heard of! Can't wait to look into them.

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Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:41 pm
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Joined: Mon May 10, 2004 1:00 pm
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Location: SE Portland
Post Small (wal)nut trees for the NW & Garfield Shults
Garfield Shults of Homedale, ID has a bush form of English walnut that gets to be about six to eight feet tall. I have one started. The nuts are normal size and flavor. Walnuts are subject to husk fly in Oregon, but they mainly stain the nuts. Also, it would be simple to net a small tree with row fabric to prevent the flies from reaching it.
The trees come true from seed and Mr. Shults sells them for $1.25 a nut plus postage Hurry, it's nearly nut time now and he is old and may not have a lot of years left.
Mr. Garfield Shults
1526 Hill Road
Homedale, Idaho 83628


I sent a note and $10 (a check that has still not cleared, so I wondered if it was already too late) to Mr. Shults within a week of lonrom's 9/24 post. Just got my eight walnuts, and some handwritten answers to my desperately ignorant questions. Now I'm hoping some of you can help me make sense of what I'm not sure I can read.

Quoting the 3x5 card as best I can, "Walnut seed needs stratified 25 - 35 degrees 3 to 4 months (slightly moist). Plant 1 3/4" deep sand over and under. Plant when you can plant string beans. Trace mineral over seed helps sprout. Fertilize lightly after growth is good. Prune annually Sept/October or when nuts split (something incomprehensible that looks a bit like '?chuets') Keep desired size by pruning annually. Questions - phone me (I'll give any legitimate member his phone number, but only off-list. Too many mercenaries cruising this forum.) Garfield"

So what does "stratified" mean in this context? What might that indecipherable word be? How many of these should I reasonably keep to get two bushes? ('cuz I don't know if walnuts are self fertile or not, or if my neighborhood English walnuts will do the trick.)

And might anyone else want some of these if I need far fewer than what I've got?

mh


Wed Nov 04, 2009 7:47 pm
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Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: Best small nut trees for the NW?
Stratified means that they have to get enough chill hours in order to germinate. This ensures that the seed will germinate after winter, not during winter. IMagine how many would die if they sprouted during a cold winter.

I would plant all of them and see how many grow. Even if they are somewhat self pollinating, they might set better with two.
John S
PDX OR


Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:36 pm
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Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2006 12:08 am
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Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: Best small nut trees for the NW?
Oh! I forgot to mention: you can eat the kernels of any of your Prunus genus trees (cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, etc). High in cyanide, so you want to use caution, but the seeds can taste very almond-y and delicious. (Or very bitter--use extra caution with these since they have more cyanide.)

If you don't like them, or find it too tedious and slow to get much useful meat from the smaller kernels like cherries, you can always crush them up with rocks or a grain grinder and let your chickens at 'em.

I wrote a lot on this subject at: http://farmerscrub.blogspot.com/2007/09 ... ealed.html

Norris


Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:33 pm
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Joined: Mon Dec 08, 2008 8:22 am
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Location: SW Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Re: Best small nut trees for the NW?
Hi Marsha:

I got my order the same day you got yours. Here's what my note said:

Walnut seeds will need to be stratified - kept lightly moist and 25-35 degrees for 90-120 days. Check for mould work it off use less moisture for rest of stratifying period. Fish or similar organic plant food after leaves appear. A good mineral amendment will aid sprouting (hard to read, maybe bronardite) is best, trace mineral mixes okay.

Plant seeds 1 3/4 in deep some sand over and under.

I've had reports of 90% (something) germination.

Let me know what percent sprouted as early as possible. Have fun Garfield Shults

When trees reach desired height prune in September/October contain at 10, 12, 16 ft as you like.

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

So to me that indicates these are smaller varieties, but that they still need pruning to stay small. That's fine with me, glad to prune!

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Sat Nov 07, 2009 8:08 am
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Joined: Mon May 10, 2004 1:00 pm
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Location: SE Portland
Post Re: Best small nut trees for the NW?
Between the two decipherings, I think we've pretty much got it. I put mine in the fridge almost immediately, but I'm wondering if putting them in a box (the plastic bag they're in won't even slow the squirrels) on the porch would give them a more gradual and realistic cooling/stratification period.


Sat Nov 07, 2009 8:43 am
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Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 1:05 pm
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Location: SE PDX
Post Re: "bush" English Walnut
If the 'Shults' walnut is supposed to be a 'bush' form, then why does it require yearly pruning to keep it small (below 16 feet)? How would one prune such a tree in September or October? The terminal growth on the branches is where all the just-ripening walnuts would be clustered. Maybe you could seasonally whack back the tree to dwarf size if you didn't mind cutting all the seeds down, along with the terminal growth necessary for seed production. I inquired with Charles Rhora, English Walnut specialist with the Northern Nut Growers Association, and he comes to the same conclusion. Does anyone here in Oregon have a nut-producing example of the 'Shults' walnut? I'm very interested in the potential, but skeptical that this is a unique or workable variation....based on the above discussion.


Sat Nov 28, 2009 8:41 am
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Joined: Mon May 10, 2004 1:00 pm
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Location: SE Portland
Post "Bush" English walnut
I'd say "my questions exactly," had I been awake enough to consider that pruning as directed would remove fruiting wood :oops: . I'll be planting them with the strong suspicion that they will not naturally dwarf, and that I'll be digging them up irritably at some point. Other than the wasted time, that doesn't really bother me, since I don't have anything else competing for the spot I intend to plant them.


Sun Nov 29, 2009 5:37 pm
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Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: Best small nut trees for the NW?
When I talked to him, he said that if you leave the tree alone it should eventually grow to about 16 feet in height, which is about what I wanted. I didn't plan on pruning it much, not for height, and then there wouldn't be a problem, as far as I can see.
John S
PDX OR


Sun Nov 29, 2009 6:40 pm
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