I have a lot of Shagbark Hickory trees and love the nuts, but they are time consuming to open. Before I plant a huge amount of them... Does any breeding program exist to improve Shagbark Hickory? As a slow growing tree, I feel that a multi generation selective breeding plan would take hundreds of years. Can I help continue one that is already part way along? If I plant specifically for this project, how do I plan for the next step (which could be after I am gone).
Nebraska Nut Growers Association sells scion wood from improved cultivars and you can purchase during the scion wood sale in the winter. Ernie Grimo from Grimo Nursery in Ontario sells grafted hickories also. I saw some nuts from a grafted tree and they were almost as big as a walnut. Best thing to do may be to graft onto your existing shagbark seedling. I think hickory are the best tasting nut there is.
Location: Brighton, Michigan
posted 2 years ago
There are other places as well to get cultivar scion wood. I bought some scion wood from Yoder and Porter varieties but my grafts did not take, I only tried it once. I just cracked a half five gallon bucket last night of shagbark.
It sounds to me like Paul is interested in furthering the genetics of hickory, a worthwhile project! Grafted clones are just going to keep things where they have already been, seed would further things along. I believe the U. of Nebraska distributes seed from improved varieties.
I also sell seed through my website from a tree that makes nice shaped nuts that are easy to crack into halves. The nuts aren't very big, but they have that nice oval shape. Also, if you use hickory nuts for different purposes other than just shelling out nut meat, it doesn't matter how big the nuts are or how easily they crack out. I smash and boil them, the nut meat floats to the surface after a little while and I drink the broth. I write about it in an article on my site. I think hickory trees are amazing beings and its good to hear of other people interested in working with them.
Twisted Tree Farm and Nursery
I would think you're first step would defining what you want in the tree and try to find cultivars that have those characteristics. Shagbarks are slowing growing, long lived trees, so it would be difficult for a person to see many generations of progress. I've searched the woods around my property and collect nuts from the trees that have nuts with thin shells. Maybe you could focus on young trees that bear nuts and reduce the generational turnover, but unless you can find a younger family member to carry the project, I'm not sure how much could be done.
I do some of my very best work in water. Like this tiny ad: