I have property on the breaks of the Grand Ronde in NE Oregon., and I'm looking to establish nut trees of some type. Precip is 13" to 15" a year, enough for Ponderosa Pine, but not Western Larch or Doug Fir, with most precip coming as winter snow. Summer rain is infrequent and undependable. Soils are high in clay (the infamous eastern oregon Gumbo mud). Elevation is about 2500 feet with a western exposure. It's zone 5 or 6, depending on climate change and which map you look at. I don't have water rights so irrigation would be little to none. There is one permanent spring on the property.
I'm thinking pine nuts of some type are probably my best bet, but I am hoping I could also grow black walnut or butternut. Is there a possibility pinon pine might grow under these conditions, or maybe Korean or Swiss?
With only 15inch of rain, you are going to have to give your nuts 3x the normal spacing so that you effectively have 45inch of rain (15 X 3).
If you are able to pool the runoff by the plants even better (swale on contour or 60ft basin/depression for each tree).
Areating the soil will make it easier for the plants, mineralizing/balancing the soil (rockdust/etc), making the mineral more bio-available by increasing the soil life (fungi-microbes) and also with biochar.
As for which nut trees I would use, uzbek pistachios, almonds, chickapin chesnut, yellowhorn, sweet kernel apricot, (you can probably try some hazelnut), then there are stuff like monkey nut and pine nut, etc.
Iterations are fine, we don't have to be perfect
posted 2 years ago
Thanks for the replies. They've been very helpful. I'm starting to look really hard at Korean nut pines, Black Walnut, and Yellowhorn. Does anyone have experience with these in a dry climate like mine?
The idea of spreading my trees apart and forming water catching swales in excellent one for my location. My place is on a bench and there is drainge from higher elevations, especially in spring.
Location: Denver, CO
posted 2 years ago
The Denver Botanic gardens has a planting of Yellowhorn; they recommend them for landscape plantings here.
There used to be a nice big walnut growing near me without much care, but the canker got it.
You should be able to grow black walnuts -- I know there is a black walnut tree in Klamath Falls (elevation just over 4,000') that produces nuts at least once in a while. I think here the limiting factor is late frosts. You should have less danger from that because you are at a lower elevation, though you are also farther north than we are in Klamath County. Butternut and beech should also work for you, and hazelnuts should. Hickory nuts might. If you can get inexpensive seedlings, you could afford to do some experimenting.
There are other pine nut producing trees besides pinyon -- stone pine is one, and I think there's another (it's been a while since I looked these up). They are slow to mature and produce, but might be worth trying.
As someone else mentioned, plant them farther apart than is recommended, and if possible use swales to direct what runoff you do get in their direction. Make sure they aren't in a frost pocket. A west or north-facing slope would probably be best -- it would help keep them from breaking dormancy during warm spells in the middle of the winter. A north-facing slope will also hold moisture longer than a south-facing slope. But it will reduce the length of the growing season.
There are feral carpathian walnuts growing along some drainages in the hells canyon area that have been spread by wildlife. They usually require some sort of extra water though usually growing next to a small creek or spring. Also black walnuts should do fairly well there as well. I'm nearby in the Clearwater drainage of idaho with a very similar climate although I'm at a higher precip of about 25 inches. I'm trying to grow Oregon white oak, bur oak, gambel oak, northern red oak, carpathian walnut, shagbark hickory, shellbark hickory, common hazel, american hazel, American chestnut, Chinese chestnut, and even northern hardy pecan. A lot of it is experimental but I think the oaks, walnuts, and hazelnuts are going to do pretty well and would probably do well for you too. It's still too early to tell. But I'm pretty interested to see what works for the area.