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English walnuts, Juglans regia  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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I picked about 40 English walnuts this year. I picked them after the hulls started coming off. I didn’t wait for them to fall because of squirrels. It’s a young tree. I’ve only eaten a few before, but they had great flavor. This year they taste stronger and a little bitter. They seem light too but seem filled out. Can anyone tell me what conditions affect the quality? Did I pick them too soon? Maybe the soil is missing something? We had a heat wave that lasted longer than our usual heat waves. Maybe they need some cooler weather?
 
Ken W Wilson
pollinator
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I forgot to mention that the variety is Lake. It is self-pollinating. I also have a seedling that hasn’t bloomed yet. I wondered if maybe a black walnut pollinator could be the problem, but I’m not aware of a black walnut nearby. I thought one or two tasted like black walnut in a good way.

I planted about a dozen nuts yesterday. I hope they produce tasty nuts. A hybrid might be interesting. Most of them were probably self pollinated.
 
gardener
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I think like most seeds, the pollinator wouldn't affect the taste of the nut. However, there's a slightly bitter/astringent taste in pecans that are dropped or pulled from the tree too early. If you're pulling before they are naturally falling, I think that's the most likely culprit.  I'm not exactly an expert in this area, but I've been snacking on pecans all  my life.

edit: Just out of curiosity, what's the difference between English walnuts and plain old ordinary walnuts?
 
Ken W Wilson
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English walnuts have thin shells, mild taste, and almost fall out of the hulls. Black walnuts have thick shells, strong taste, and hulls that have to be rubbed off.


Thanks! I’ll wait longer next year. There were so few that I really wanted to beat the squirrels.

 
gardener
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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My experience, with my walnuts, is that they taste really bitter if I eat seeds before they have fully dried. Later in the season, after they are crispy dry then they don't taste as bitter to me as they do just after they fall from the tree, while they are still damp.
landrace-nuts.jpg
[Thumbnail for landrace-nuts.jpg]
nuts
 
Ken W Wilson
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Joseph Lofthouse, you were right. Just a month of aging really improved them.  Thanks!

On a side note, this variety is small and a little harder to shell. They usually taste great. They green up later in the Spring so aren’t as likely to be damaged by late frosts, so they are very worthwhile here. Our Spring weather fluctuates a lot. I have two seedlings from Lake and planted more  nuts this Fall. Maybe I’ll get an even better variety eventually.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Ken W Wilson: This fall, I harvested the first nuts from the third generation of my family's walnut breeding project. They are currently drying. Looking forward to doing a taste test soon. Such a dilemma... Do I taste a few of the seeds? Or do I put every seed possible into growing the next generation of trees. It might be 15 years before the next generation bears nuts.
 
pollinator
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Very interesting post thank you for sharing. English walnuts are recommended as low in Oxalates. Darn. now I can't find that reference. However, it came to me from a dietitian after seeing a nephrologist for said ailment. English walnuts are difficult to find. I realize it takes time to see the results of creating a food forest, but I am interested for certain. I've a few questions if you please. What do the trees look like? What climate are you growing walnuts in?  
Brian  
 
pollinator
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Brian - English walnuts are common walnuts. They will just be labeled walnuts. They are cheaper and more readily available then Black walnuts.
 
Brian Rodgers
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Okay great!
Thanks
 
Ken W Wilson
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Brian, not sure which walnuts are common in Mexico or if they grow there. Here black walnuts, Juglans nigra, are the common ones and Juglans regia are called English walnuts, or tree nurseries sometimes call them Carpathian walnuts or Persian walnuts. In Europe Juglans regia are just walnuts. Someone told me that in Finland they call them German walnuts. https://www.thespruce.com/walnut-tree-species-3269725
 
Ken W Wilson
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Joseph, I only had about ten two years ago. I only ate one. I only got two trees from them.

I only had six last year. A few came up. I tried to over winter them in pots. I think they froze. They were small trees and pots.

I just have a lot and a half. I planted too close together and will have to cull some, maybe most, after I can tell which are best. I planted about 15 more this year, mostly just about 8 “ apart for a little Nursery.

Do you think I’ll get some genetic diversity even if they are self pollinated? This variety is supposed to be fair at self pollinating. The carpathian walnut I planted for a pollinator died back the first two or three years. I don’t think it’s bloomed or maybe they got frosted before I saw them.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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There are two strands of DNA on each chromosome. Each strand gets randomly taken apart, and randomly reassembled with corresponding parts from the other strand -- mix and match. Therefore there is plenty of opportunity for diversity in walnut seedlings, even if self-pollinated. And it's hard to tell how much pollen is arriving on the wind.
 
Brian Rodgers
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Ken W Wilson wrote:Brian, not sure which walnuts are common in Mexico or if they grow there. Here black walnuts, Juglans nigra, are the common ones and Juglans regia are called English walnuts, or tree nurseries sometimes call them Carpathian walnuts or Persian walnuts. In Europe Juglans regia are just walnuts. Someone told me that in Finland they call them German walnuts. https://www.thespruce.com/walnut-tree-species-3269725


Thank you for the information Ken. It does look like one is nick named New Mexico Walnut  Juglans major. Somehow it makes me feel short lived thinking about planting walnut trees. They are beautiful and majestic and long-lived. It always amazes me when I see people that have peach trees growing and fruiting in their yard in town and they let the peaches fall to the ground almost as if they forgot that is where food comes from. I feel a little guilty because I can't be certain my children will be interested in the work needed to harvest walnuts. How do you all cope with this?
Brian  
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Ken W Wilson: This fall, I harvested the first nuts from the third generation of my family's walnut breeding project. They are currently drying. Looking forward to doing a taste test soon. Such a dilemma... Do I taste a few of the seeds? Or do I put every seed possible into growing the next generation of trees. It might be 15 years before the next generation bears nuts.



Nut trees have a huge range of maturity age - some will give first nuts within just a few years. You can probably select for that as part of your project.  You can also speed things up by grafting. Graft the wood from your two year old seedlings onto mature trees and you can assess their fruit much earlier.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Brian Rodgers wrote:I feel a little guilty because I can't be certain my children will be interested in the work needed to harvest walnuts. How do you all cope with this?



50 years ago, I planted a walnut tree with my daddy. Before it bore fruit, we moved. A couple years ago, the family that bought the house gave 50 pounds of walnuts to my daddy.

The Cache Valley portion of the walnut breeding project that I am working on was started perhaps 70 years ago, by someone who's identity as been forgotten. The progeny of the project are scattered across the valley. I keep watch over the trees, as families move, and new owners take possession of the trees. Some day, when the trees are fruiting, I may knock on the door of some of th places, and beg for nuts to continue another generation of the project. I'm not in a hurry to get nuts. My people have been working on this project for ten thousand years, what's a decade here or there?

150 years ago, when the canals in my village were being dug, by hand and horse, my family and other workers on the project planted the seeds of the apples they ate for lunch along the canal banks. I am still using that hand-dug irrigation system today, and still eating those apples. I'm still honoring the ancestors that dug the canal and planted the apples.

Asparagus was planted by along the ditch-banks by my great-great-great-grandmother and her peers. I still harvest food from it every spring.

So I cope by taking the long view, that my permaculture projects are primarily for the benefit of people hundreds of years from now that I will never know. And for my family: the bugs, microbes, plants, fungi, etc that will benefit from the planting, even humans ignore it.  
 
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