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.
posted 10 months 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 10 months 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.
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Tomatoes! Ha! Anyone can grow that. Amaze your neighbors, grow your own shirt!