Northern Nut Growers Association Report of the Proceedings at the 44th Annual Meeting
Author: Various
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DR. CRANE: Joe, you have had a lot of experience, made a lot of observations of this matter of seedlings versus grafted varieties. What do you think of the situation?

DR. MACDANIEL: I will follow Mr. Stokes' opinion on that. I think grafted trees, if you have a compatible graft, are worth several times as much as average seedling trees. At the University of Illinois most of our trees are seedling trees. We are just getting started with grafted Chinese chestnuts.

DR. CRANE: That's the way it is with us. Anybody in the audience that has an opinion that they think seedlings are better than grafted trees?

MR. CALDWELL: I was going to say seedlings are better, but I think this is one thing everybody should realize: The emphasis has been based on early production. In many cases we have found in forest trees that early seed production doesn't necessarily mean heavy late seed production. Some of those that didn't produce early went ahead and 40 or 50 years later produced heavily. So be a little bit careful when you start swinging too heavily on early production.

DR. CRANE: Yes, but, Dr. Caldwell, we in the United States haven't time to wait. We haven't time to wait.

MR. CALDWELL: You are going to have to take it.

DR. CRANE: It's just like Mr. Wilson said. He planted seedlings in 1948, and he is telling me that most of them haven't come into bearing, so he is going to ply the axe or top work them. He hasn't time to wait. He's got to make his bread and butter out of that, and when it comes to growing nuts, we can't wait 40 or 50 years for a tree to come in. That might be all right for posterity, but we have got to be sure of it, or our posterity is not going to be able to pay the national debt.

DR. MACDANIELS: According to the experience I have had, the chestnut is only a little more hardy than the peach, and behaves pretty much the same as regards wood injury. At 30 deg. below zero the trees have been killed outright or to the ground. At about 25 deg. below they will black heart with killing of sapwood and serious injury to the bark. At 20 they will survive. This experience involves perhaps 125 seedling trees from various sources, but mostly from the U.S.D.A. It is quite likely that there may be more hardier strains that will withstand these low temperatures. The other point is the matter of grafted trees. It is my opinion that the failure of the graft is a form of cold injury related to delayed maturity of the tissues at the graft union. Certainly failure of grafts is much more persistent in the north than in the south.

My experience has been that I haven't been able to keep grafted trees. They appear to thrive for three or four years and then die. I have tried it over and over again. It appears that the grafted tree in Georgia and Virginia is one thing. In New York it's another.

MR. WALLICK: I have never bought a grafted chestnut tree that grew. They all die. And seedlings mostly do not have the kind of nuts you want. Also they may be susceptible to disease.

DR. MCKAY: I want to make one observation about our experience at Beltsville on the question of seedlings versus varieties as regards bearing. We topworked scions of some of our good varieties, like Nanking and Meiling, onto large seedlings we have at Beltsville that are poor bearers. These grafted portions in the top of these trees under poor conditions—our soil is poor at Beltsville—set tremendously heavy crops, but the nuts are smaller in size than normal, and therefore the crop is not as desirable as it would be if it were grown under good conditions. The point is that those varieties bear even under poor conditions. Bearing is a variety characteristic, and wherever it grows it will bear though it may not produce a good-sized nut.

MR. PEASE: I believe what's coming out in this discussion on bearing is also true in hardiness, growth, and any characteristic we want. We may select seeds from trees at an elevation of 6,000 feet, and still have some which will be not hardy.

DR. CRANE: That's right.

MR. SILVIS: I'd like to make a point. If in your observation you find a tree seedling in your locality that is producing good crops plant that. Don't get one from Georgia. We can take a little bit of advice from the fruit grower, and not plant too much from the south, even though it came from China.

DR. GRAVATT: I'd like to Comment about conditions in Europe with reference to seedlings and varieties. The general practice there is for each little farmer to graft from the best variety in his section, especially in Italy where you find hundreds of varieties.

In Portugal we were all very much impressed with one area where the government has had an active program in persuading the chestnut owners to topwork all their trees to three varieties. These varieties are very good ones, and they are getting a very greatly increased price on account of the high quality and uniformity of the nuts they export.

It seems to me that in the discussion on the Chinese chestnut in this country we have done a little bit of injustice to the seedlings, so far as the discussion has gone. I am in perfect agreement with what's been said about the low production the first few years, but over on the Eastern Shore Mr. Hemming's trees are producing just about as much in the way of a crop as the tree can bear, and the grafted varieties there don't produce any more than his 17 or 18 seedlings.

DR. MACDANIEL: I believe Hemming has some exceptional seedlings in that lot.

DR. GRAVATT: Yes, they are very valuable, don't misunderstand me. After the first ten years you may find a seedling orchard is going to produce a very good crop, tree by tree. We have had a lot of experience, similar to that reported in New York, with grafted trees dying. We get seedling trees dying, too, but I agree that there is more damage from fall freezes, spring freezes and perhaps from straight low temperature winter injury with the grafted trees than with the seedling trees. Furthermore, I am very critical of the tactics of some of the nurseries. They have grafted on seedlings of absolutely unknown origin or mixed origin. They will take a South Chinese variety and graft it on seedlings that for hundreds of years have been grown in North China. That's just inviting trouble. The nearer you can get to having seedling and scion from the same climatic origin, the better off you are. In fact, we have advised growers to get seedlings of the Nanking and graft Nanking on them.

Dr. McKay is doing a lot of good, basic research work on this problem, and he will have more information for us in times to come. I am firmly convinced that we are going to come some day to the grafted chestnuts, especially in the South, because a lot of the southern producers right now are giving a black eye to Chinese chestnuts, because they are shipping lots of mixed nuts, and by the time they get to the consumer half of them are rotten. This will ruin the market. We have been buying some six or seven thousand pounds of nuts to ship to Italy, and we know something about the conditions of nuts when they reach us. There is no quicker way of killing a market than to be shipping in a whole lot of nuts that are going to spoil or are in the process of spoiling when they reach the consumer. Grafted varieties are one way of getting away from this, especially in the South.

MR. WILSON: I am far enough south so that in peach production we often have winters so warm that the trees don't wake up. This question of rest period is quite important with us. We have a warm winter, and the Mayflower peach just keeps on sleeping. Eventually bloom will break, and a little peach will sit up there waiting for the leaf to come out. There is apparently a rest period with the Chinese chestnut there also. The time of breaking of the rest period in my seedling trees varies as much as three to four weeks, and that would lead me to believe that, in the long run, we will have to plant locally adapted varieties.

PRESIDENT BEST: I am sorry that we have to stop this very interesting discussion.

At this time is there any item of general interest to the group that anyone would like to bring up?

MR. MILLER: For sometime I have been considering the desirability of changing the name of the Northern Nut Growers. I am inclined to think that maybe some of our southern friends or from the Far West or Southwest would be a little dubious of joining the Northern Nut Growers, because they think we are perhaps exclusive for the north tier of states and we didn't want them.

I thought perhaps the International Nut Growers, or the United States Nut Growers Association were names worth considering. I think that would have a desirable psychological effect on our membership. We are a big organization, and I think a lot of people would think it was a whole lot larger if the name would imply that. I think the "Northern Nut Growers" just looks like we are concerned with the northern tier of states, and I think we would do a whole lot better by changing the name. I would like to have some suggestions. Possibly, it could be American Nut Growers.

MR. KERR: Mr. Chairman, I am a charter member of the American Farm Bureau, and that goes over big. It's a real success as an organization, and I think the American Nut Growers—take in South America and North America—would hit our proposition about right.

PRESIDENT BEST: All right, is there another suggestion? We mustn't take so much time on this, but it is mighty important.

MR. BECKER: My final opinion is that it's best to leave it as it was.

MR. STOKE: It seems to me that this matter was well decided some time ago. We have certain definite problems to work out. I think we had better stay on those problems and work them out before we spread over the whole universe. We will have too many other problems coming in our lap.

MR. DAVIDSON: That matter was taken up some five or six years ago, and for the reason that Mr. Stoke mentioned, the fact that we have special problems and the very difficult problems that don't concern southerners was the reason for voting that proposition down before. I think it would be better, at least, for us to consider the matter rather thoroughly before we vote on it, maybe postpone it until another year.

DR. MACDANIELS: It just occurs to me that the Northern Nut Growers Association was formed to tackle problems that weren't being covered anywhere else. There are other local organizations which are concerned with the Persian walnut and the Northwest Filbert and the Southern Pecan. The Northern Nut Growers Association was organized to save America's nut heritage, as somebody said, in a rather restricted area. Possibly the time has come to get into a larger organization with a greater scope, but I will say with Mr. Davidson that we want to consider very carefully what the gain or loss might be for the change in emphasis.

PRESIDENT BEST: Would someone make the suggestion here that we keep this thing in mind for a year and maybe at our next meeting take a little time to discuss it thoroughly.

DR. CRANE: I'd like to make a few remarks and offer a motion. I believe I am correct as to the history of the organization when I state that the oldest nut growers' organization was the old National Nut Growers Association, and that covered the nut interests of the country of all kinds. Then out of that came the National Pecan Growers Association, and almost at the same time, the Northern Nut Growers Association. The old National Nut Growers Association folded up, as did the National Pecan Growers Association. They were victims of the depression. I think we could discuss this at great length and not get anywhere, and therefore I make the motion that the president appoint a committee of three members to study the possibilities, both advantages and disadvantages of a change in the name of the association and report back to the association their recommendations at the next meeting.

(Motion seconded.)

PRESIDENT BEST: The motion has been made and seconded that we appoint a committee to handle this thing and report back to us. Is there any discussion?

DR. GRAVATT: I'd like to point out that research work is being started in Europe that is going to be very valuable to us. They are now working on the Chinese chestnuts on a very large scale, starting in Yugoslavia, France, Switzerland, and they are already doing quite a bit of breeding work in Spain and Portugal along these lines. The things that they develop, will be Chinese chestnut hybrids so they are going to have the same problems in Europe working with the chestnuts that we have here. In the past they have been working entirely with the European chestnut. I think we are now on a basis whereby the European growers can feel that they can profit by taking our publication, and, that both continents will benefit.

DR. GRAVES: Do you put that as an argument for changing our name to American Nut Growers?

DR. GRAVATT: I don't think "American" would help at all. And, furthermore, when you talk about "American", a lot of people think of South America.

MR. SLATE: It's what the members get out of the proceedings and meetings that brings them in and keeps them, it's not the name of the organization.

DR. MACDANIEL: Mr. President, as former state vice-president in Alabama, Florida and Tennessee, I don't believe the change of name would result in any great immediate increase in membership in the Southeast.

PRESIDENT BEST: Now, are you ready for the question?

(The question was called for, and carried unanimously.)

Development of the Nut Industry in the Midwest

J. F. WILKINSON, Rockport, Ind.

The development of the northern nut tree industry in the midwest really began about 1910. Prior to that time W. C. Reed and son of Vincennes, Indiana had done some experimental work with the Indiana and Busseron varieties of pecan, as they had located these two parent trees. E. A. Riehl of Godfrey, Illinois had been experimenting with the walnut and chestnut, and it was at this time that T. P. Littlepage, R. L. McCoy and established our nurseries here in southern Indiana.

We then began the search for the best parent trees for propagation in the midwest.

We located Warrick, Hoosier, Major, Greenriver, Posey, Kentucky, Butterick and several other varieties most of which have since been discarded.

A number of varieties have since been introduced, by Messrs. Gerardi, Whitford, Snyder, Burkhart, Bolten, and others who are either nurserymen or propagators, of pecan, walnut, hickory and chestnut.

The Littlepage and McCoy nurseries were discontinued about thirty years ago though I have continued the search for new and better varieties, and several years ago located, named, and introduced the Giles pecan, in southeast Kansas which is proving very satisfactory. I have recently located, named, and am now introducing a new variety, CHIEF, from Illinois. This is the largest northern pecan that I have ever seen and it promises to be an outstanding variety.

In the territory from southern Indiana to eastern Kansas are countless thousands of native pecan trees in the valleys of the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers and their tributaries.

On the uplands in this same territory, the black walnut is found almost everywhere. Thousands of pecan and walnut are of suitable size for top-working and could be made valuable by being grafted over to these fine varieties. These may be found in any quantity from a single tree to a native grove (especially pecan) of thousands of trees.

One of the largest pecan groves is in Gallatin county, Illinois along the Wabash river where it has been estimated there are as many as twenty thousand pecan trees of bearing size in one locality.

Other sections where large native groves may be found are in Henderson county, Kentucky near the mouth of Green River, along the Mississippi river in western Kentucky, across the river in southern Illinois, along the Illinois river in central Illinois, along the Missouri river in central Missouri, in eastern Kansas, along the Neosho and Spring rivers, and in Bates county Missouri along the Osage river, in southwestern Missouri.

It has been my pleasure to visit one or more times each of the above places as well as every other section of note where the northern pecan grows naturally.

One of the most interesting places that I have seen is in Bates county, Missouri. I was there in May to top-work trees for Mr. Wesley Heuser, where he has a tract of land along the Osage river on which there is a large native pecan grove making it a profitable possession. Mr. Heuser is increasing its value by planting budded, or grafted trees in the open land and top-working the small native seedlings.

Adjoining this place is one owned by Mr. Fred Marquardt who recently bought it from the estate of the late J. F. Tiedke who had spent years of work there cleaning up the native grove, and top-working the small seedlings to the better varieties. Mr. Marquardt told me there was an estimated four thousand bearing size native trees, and two thousand top-worked trees most of which are of bearing size and many of them top-worked as long as twenty years ago. Mr. Marquardt is taking splendid care of this place making it a profitable as well as a most beautiful nut orchard.

Mr. Tiedke in topworking these small trees, selected those as nearly as possible in rows giving it the appearance in places of a planted orchard.

Along the Illinois river in central Illinois is a great pecan section. It is there that Mr. R. B. Best is located, and he probably has more grafted and top-worked trees than any other person in the midwest. The late Charles Stephens of Columbus, Kansas, had topworked several hundred trees in southeastern Kansas and Stanley Walberts planted a 35 acre pecan orchard there at Columbus that at the last time I visited it was a beautiful and well kept orchard.

Mr. W. F. Thielenhaus of Buffalo, Kansas is doing a lot of work there both in planting and top-working trees.

In western Kentucky, Professors W. W. Magill, and W. D. Armstrong of the University of Kentucky with county agent John B. Watts of Hickman, Kentucky cooperating, interested Mr. Roscoe Stone, who had a large acreage of land in developing the young seedling pecan trees by top-working them to better varieties. Mr. Sly and I went there the first time in the spring of 1948 and each spring since then we have worked trees on this land, and for others around Hickman to the number of possibly 500 trees.

Last year a number of the trees that were worked in the spring of 1948 produced quite a few nuts. I was there in May at which time there was a splendid crop of nuts on these trees. On August 3, I had a letter from Mr. Watts stating "I feel that many of these trees will bear a good crop of nuts this year, and although we are having a drought here, the trees on the Stone farm are not suffering much.

The largest planting of nut trees that I know in the midwest is that planted by the late Harry R. Weber near Rockport which consists of about 70 acres mostly walnuts, with some pecans, hybrids, hickories, and filberts.

Many smaller plantings of nut trees have been made throughout the midwest and thousands of seedling trees having been top-worked.

Most of the native walnut trees through this section have been cut for timber and the native chestnut has been killed by the blight, making a shortage that should be replaced with the better varieties of walnut and the Chinese chestnut.

The earlier plantings of the Persian walnut from France and England were not hardy in the midwest but the Carpathian walnut from Poland seems to be doing well.

Some parts of this territory are suitable for almost any kind of nut trees. There is a vast field in the Midwest awaiting development in nut culture.

Some Aspects of the Problem of Producing Curly-Grained Walnut

L. H. MACDANIELS, Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y.

About 15 years ago a tree of the Lamb Curly Walnut was planted at Ithaca, N. Y. After the tree had grown to a height of about 12 feet, it was topworked about 8 feet from the ground to scions of the Cornell variety of Black Walnut with the idea that it would be possible to grow a trunk of curly walnut and a top of a named variety. The tree grew rapidly and in the fall of 1952 had a trunk 10 inches in diameter at the base. Sometime in 1952 the tree became infected with bunchy-top disease and was cut in an attempt to eliminate this disease from the premises. It was expected that the trunk would show figured curly grain and plans were made to have at least a part of the log cut into veneer. On cutting the tree, however, and examining the wood, there was no evidence of curly grain detectable either by casual personal observation or from samples sent to the Forest Products Laboratory at Madison, Wisconsin. This, of course, was a disappointment because J. F. Wilkinson had shown samples of walnut grown from scions of the Lamb Walnut obtained from the late W. B. Bixby which showed evidence of curly grain. A photograph of the wood secured from Mr. Wilkinson is shown in figure 1. Wood samples from a tree growing at Beltsville, Maryland, which was also secured from Mr. Bixby by C. A. Reed, does not show evidence of curly grain.

The simplest explanation of the failure of the tree in Ithaca to show curly grain would be that somehow the tree was not properly labelled or that scions were mixed in propagation and that the trunk was not derived from the original Lamb Curly Walnut. However, the fact that only a few trees were concerned makes it improbable that trees were mislabelled in the Ithaca planting and there is no good reason to believe that the tree planted at Beltsville was not authentic.

Another possibility is that the original Lamb Walnut was a chimera. Such a tree would have mixed tissues in its growing points, some having the curly grain character and others not. In such a tree some scions would produce curliness and others straight grain. It may be that these were mixed in the original collection.

A third possibility is that curliness is produced by the interaction of several factors, one a tendency to curliness inherent in the Lamb tree and the others environmental such as growth rate, nutrient supply, the nature of the soil or other such conditions.

Theoretically curly grain in walnut or any other tree is related to the nature of the growth of the cambium layer. In normal growth the cells of this layer are much elongated as seen in tangential section and are relatively straight. The nature of these cambium cells is shown in figure 2.

It is well known from studies of cambial growth that irregularities in the growth of the cambium are reflected in the irregularities in the shape and position of the wood fibers and vessels, which it forms. Ordinarily, if the cambium is wounded, the first cells formed are irregular in shape and orientation but after a wound is healed over the cambium cells resume their normal position. In parts of trees in which the grain is irregular or confused such as in the inner angle of crotches the shape of the cambium cells determines the nature of the grain beneath as shown in figure 3 (Ref. 1). This has been established also in the study of the nature of spiral-grained Douglas Fir and in various experimental work where it has been possible to change the direction or extent of the cambium cells through various experimental means. (Ref. 2)

There seems to be no doubt, therefore, that curly grain in walnut is directly related to the curly condition to be found in the cambium, which produces such curly grain. The basic question to be resolved is what makes the cambium of a curly-grain tree assume the curly or wavy character. As indicated above, one hypothesis is that several factors may be operating. For example, a tree might have the inherent capacity to produce wavy grain but would only do so under special environmental conditions. These environmental conditions might be related to rapidity of growth, water and nutrient supply, or various other habitat characteristics, which affect the nature of growth. The fact that the tree in question at Ithaca was growing rapidly might have been responsible for the failure of the curly grain to develop. There is evidence that trees with figured grain grow slowly. (Ref. 3, 4) On the other hand the specimens from the tree at Beltsville, Maryland, were from a slowly growing plant and did not show curly grain.

Another hypothesis is that development of the curly grain is dependent upon the foliage of the tree. This has been demonstrated to be true in instances where the foliage of fruit plants determines the characteristics of the growth of the trunk and roots and of the fruit itself. (Ref. 5, 6) It might be, therefore, that the failure of this particular trunk to show curly grain is related to the fact that the top of the tree at Ithaca was of another variety than the original Lamb. Possibly the foliage of the original variety producing the curly character is necessary to produce the curly grain. An argument against this interpretation is that the tree at Beltsville, Maryland, is not topworked.

It would be valuable at the present time to survey all the trees of the Lamb walnut, which are growing in various parts of the country, to see under what circumstances they may be showing the curly characteristic of the original tree. Dr. M. Y. Pillow of the Forest Products Laboratory at Madison, Wisconsin, in an unpublished report, has pointed out that it is possible to determine the curly nature of the grain by shaving off the outer bark, exposing the inner bark just outside of the cambium. Inasmuch as the same cambium cells form fiber cells both on the inside to make the wood and towards the outside to make the bark, the direction and nature of the fibers in the bark are a direct indication of the direction of the fibers underneath the cambium in the wood.

The appearance of the normal straight grained wood and bark and wood and bark of a curly grained tree are shown in figures 4 and 5. Shaving off the outer bark in this manner will not harm the trees, if it is done carefully so it would be possible to make this survey without injury to the trees. Examining a number of trees of the Lamb walnut in this way and finding that some were curly, might give evidence as to the conditions under which the Lamb walnut will produce curly grain.

Dr. Pillow of the Forest Products Laboratory, kindly furnished me with his file on curly and birdseye grained wood. In this file is a very interesting group of manuscripts and letters including a report from Mr. Willard G. Bixby reporting a trip to New Hampshire to study the occurrence of birdseye maple and also his early experiments with the Lamb walnut. The Lamb walnut trees at that time were too young to give any indication of curly grain. Other letters of interest on the subject were from Mr. J. F. Wilkinson, A. S. Colby and C. A. Reed. These letters mention the desirability of propagating figured walnut but aside from indicating that trees of the Lamb had been propagated there was no indication that curliness had developed. The first definite indication that curliness would develop in a grafted tree was reported by Mr. Wilkinson (Ref. 7) at the Norris meeting of the Northern Nut Growers Association. At that time the wood photographed in figure 1 was shown.

In the literature somewhat conflicting reports are found as to whether or not curliness will show up early in the growth of a tree or late. Apparently it was possible to trace curly grain into the twigs a few years old in the original Lamb walnut (unpublished letters). Various statements, however, indicate that curliness may not develop until the trees are 20 years old or more. It would seem that with the propagation and introduction of the Lamb walnut in 1926-27 and distribution soon thereafter it ought to be possible to locate and examine these trees which are now more than 20 years old.

In the various literature and other material available on the subject of birdseye and curliness, it appears that the birdseye grain is different in its origin from curliness although both may be related to the functioning of the cambium and definitely seem to be related to slow growth. (Ref. 8)

Curliness is reported in other kinds of trees. Curly grained white poplar has been propagated from hybrid trees by growing cuttings of shoots from the roots of the curly trees (Ref. 9). In Sweden it has been possible to grow figured birch, much of which has the curly type grain. In birch, seedling strains producing curly grain have been developed and are being grown. It is of interest to note that with these birches, the trees with curly grain grow only about half as fast as the normal trees and have to be staked during their early growth years in order to make straight trunks or to stand erect (Ref. 4).

The original Lamb walnut tree was curly throughout. Other trees, particularly maples and birches may be curly only in part of their trunks and sometimes only in restricted segments. Trees frequently have curly grain at the base where the trunk joins the roots but not elsewhere. Such curliness may be related to the shortening of the curve where the root joins the trunk, thus causing distortion. W. G. Bixby states (Ref. 3) that a birdseye maple tree 170 years old was only about a quarter as large in diameter as normal trees of the same age. I know of no comparison of curly walnut with other types of walnut. The original Lamb walnut tree was apparently a very large one.

In conclusion, it is obvious that our knowledge of the possibility of producing curly grained walnut logs by grafting is as yet incomplete. Much more information is needed and at the present time undoubtedly much can be gained by examining the Lamb walnut trees, which are growing in various parts of the country. This can be done without seriously injuring the trees as described earlier in this paper. Those in the Northern Nut Grower's Association, who have Lamb trees are urged to examine them to find out if we can gain further useful information regarding this rather important subject. Obviously, if it is possible to grow curly walnut through vegetative propagation, we should know under what conditions a grower can expect to successfully produce a curly grained log.


1. MacDaniels, L. H. The apple tree crotch, histological studies and practical considerations. Cornell Univ. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 419: 1-22. 1923.

2. —— and Otis F. Curtis. The effect of spiral ringing on solute translocation on the structure of the regenerated tissue of the apple. Cornell Univ. Agr. Exp. Sta. Memoir 133:1-32. 1930.

3. Bixby, W. G. Field work at Warren, New Hampshire. Unpublished Report. 1932. (On file with U. S. Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wisconsin.)

4. Heinkinheimo, O. Om odling ar masurbjork (The cultivation of figured birch). Skogen 27:165-167. 1940. (Translation in U. S. Forest Products Laboratory.)

5. Heinicke, A. J. Influence of scion leaves on the quality of apples borne by the stock. Am. Soc. Hort. Sci. Proc. 24:143-146. 1927.

6. Swarbrick, Thomas and R. H. Roberts. The relation of scion variety to character of root growth in apple trees. Wisconsin Univ. Agr. Exp. Sta. Res. Bul. 78:1-24. 1927.

7. Wilkinson, J. F. The grafted curly walnut as a timber tree. Northern Nut Growers Ass'n. Proc. 39:139-142. 1948.

8. Pillow, M. Y. Dormant buds are not the cause of bird's eyes in maple. Wood Working Industries 5:26-27. Sept. 1929.

9. Grober, Samuel. Science shows the way. Chemurgic Digest 5:152. 1946.

DR. CRANE: Dr. MacDaniels, the idea prevails on the part of some I know that this curliness would show up more at the base or crown of the tree than it would be likely to show on the trunk, and at the base of large limbs we tend to have curliness. Of course, the Lamb walnut was supposed to be curly throughout, but in the case of other trees I wonder if that's true. You have emphasized the change in the direction of the grain at the crown between the root and trunk and in the crotches. I wonder just where would be the best place to scrape this bark or pare it down in examination to determine whether it was curly or not. Would that be, in your opinion, more likely to show up on the trunk of the tree or base of some limb or near down to the crown?

DR. MACDANIELS: I'd be inclined to take it where you can work at it most easily; down towards the base. If the grain is curly only in restricted areas the log is not very valuable.

A MEMBER: I have been told by a sawmill man that he could tell by the convolutions of the bark. Instead of being straight, they would be fluted.

DR. MACDANIELS: That might be. I was told during the First World War when they wanted straight-grained spruce for airplanes they found they could tell a straight-grained spruce from a spiral, so they wouldn't waste their time getting logs with spiral grain.


PRESIDENT BEST: The first item on the program is the life story of the Late Reverend Crath and the Crath Carpathian walnut in Ontario. We are going to have Mr. L. K. Devitt of Toronto, Canada, get into this subject for us. Mr. Devitt did know Reverend Crath since 1934. Mr. Devitt supported his expedition to the Ukraine in 1934. He has a few slides for us and then he is going to talk to us about a number of features.

Mr. Devitt is in the school system in Toronto, and he is a graduate of the University of Toronto, and so without further introduction, take over and give us your story.

MR. DEVITT: Thank you. Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, when I wrote a letter to the secretary of the Association about Reverend Crath, I thought it was also fitting that at the next meeting I should come here and say a little more about the life and work of the Reverend Crath and the Crath Carpathian walnut in Ontario and the progress for the last 20 years.

Late Rev. Paul C. Crath

L. K. DEVITT, Toronto, Ontario

Rev. Crath was born near Kiev in Greater Ukraine, Poland, in 1883. He was the son of an Agricultural College Professor. It is assumed that he enjoyed the life of the upper class, being a graduate of two universities; and speaking fluently at least six languages of Central and Western Europe, and having travelled almost everywhere in Europe. He possessed a wide knowledge of the peoples, the history and the culture of all the Central European Countries.

He migrated to Canada in 1908 and settled in Western Canada. He was employed at various, clerical occupations before entering the Theological College of the University of Manitoba from where he graduated as a Presbyterian minister in 1922.

He was the minister of a Ukranian Presbyterian Church in Toronto for two years. From 1924 to 1936 he served as a Presbyterian missionary in Poland, organizing some thirty missions in Galicia and Volynia. For some years before the war, he spent considerable time on a farm near Welcome, Ontario, building up a European Nursery and in the winters he served with the Home Missions mostly in Western Canada. During the last ten years of his life he had to curtail his activities more and more, owing to poor health and a heart condition.

I met Rev. Crath when he was on furlough in 1934.

I went to the National Exhibition and among the various exhibits I came across a rather unique exhibit of nuts, grown by the late Geo. H. Corsan, Echo Valley, Islington.

In the course of our conversation along came the late Prof. Jas. Neilson and we continued to talk about nut-growing. Prof. Neilson was interesting indeed. I could see he was a sincere man and most enthusiastic about the subject. He told me there was a Presbyterian Ukranian missionary in town who had brought out some hardy English walnuts from the Carpathian Mountains—a variety which he was sure would survive in Ontario and the Northern States and that it had great possibilities. The missionary was returning to Europe to bring out a shipment but needed, backing for the expedition. I met Prof. Neilson the following day. The sum required was $400.00 and he agreed to guarantee the sale of $400.00 worth in the U.S. at least. The next day I met Rev. Crath at the Exhibition display. We met off and on for two or three days. I could see no flaw in the project, so I raised the $400.00 by a bank-note. The banker thought I was crazy—and the missionary was on his way by the end of the week.

He arrived by mid-September and having had so many charges in the Ukraine, he knew where to go and just when the crop was being harvested. The walnuts were selected, dried, boxed and shipped by the middle of October. The shipment arrived in Toronto the first week of November—nearly two tons of them. I received with them, a bill of lading with port charges, export duties and freight. I was out another $100.00.

In two weeks, the Winter Fair opened and Mr. Corsan was invited to put on his nut exhibit as an attraction. In the meantime he was on the radio once a week to talk on health, food and various subjects, always getting around to nuts as a food—and this new discovery, the Carpathian walnut. The radio broadcasts brought interested people right to his exhibit. He gave an hourly talk on nuts and a pamphlet was given out. The Winter Fair sales grossed $300.00 and there was another $100.00 on follow-up sales by Christmas. The situation was at least easier.

Prof. Neilson before Christmas had taken ill and passed away in February. However into the picture came another man, H. J. Rahmlow, secretary of the Wisconsin Horticultural Association with about 600 affiliated societies. He wrote an article in the Country Gentleman and circularized the expedition of Rev. Crath to the Carpathian Mountains. We sent four shipments to Mr. Rahmlow in 25 and 50 lb. lots. Sales came in from all over Canada and the United States until spring. By spring we had cleared all expenses and had about $200.00 on hand, but the next problem was, what to do with the rest of the walnut seeds?

On Mr. Corsan's Echo Valley, there were two fields, one in the valley and one over the road. We broke up out of sod an acre in each field and planted about 40,000 seeds. Rev. Crath took to a farm near Welcome, Ont. about another 20,000. Our plantation required a good deal of attention, work and expense during the growing season. However 90% of the walnuts germinated and grew to trees about 6 inches high. Over 30,000 trees survived the next cold winter.

The following year we could scuffle them between the rows. Our nursery required less care and expense. During the summer they grew about a foot higher (15 in. average) but developed a very thick carrot-like tap root with numerous root hairs. By autumn 1936 it was evident we had to transplant. The seeds were planted originally 8 inches apart. So we divided up the lot by each taking one out of every three trees, thus leaving the trees in Echo Valley now 2 ft. apart. Rev. Crath took his trees to the farm at Welcome, 80 miles east of Toronto. They were planted on a slope below a thick woods from where melting snow and spring rains kept the field cold and wet until mid-summer. Rev. Crath's trees were practically a failure; in fact the area seemed to be unsuitable for walnut seedlings. Mr. Corsan's trees continued to grow, but even here the soil did not seem to be the most suitable.

I took mine to a sandy garden soil that had been under sod for 20 years. The sod was broken and thoroughly disced. The spring was wet and very favourable for transplanting. The trees on this soil grew very well without any fertilizer at all; nor did they require any spraying. The trees continued to grow deep and do better each succeeding year.

In the spring of 1939 I started to sell trees wholesale to the Dominion Nursery, Georgetown, Ont. Mr. Bradley, the president, carried more novelty items in his catalogue than any other nurseryman in Canada. I continued to plant more seeds until 1939.—The war stopped further importations, and I sold out all the trees by the spring of 1943.

So from my nursery probably went out some 10,000 trees; the weaker seedling always perished during the winter. From Mr. Corsan's nursery, another 10,000 trees—about half of these went to his son, Hebden Corsan in Michigan. Rev. Crath's nursery yielded not more than 5000. He imported a number of cherries, plums, grapes and others fruits, all of which did not do too well either.

During the period before the war, orders came in from everywhere—from British Columbia to Nova Scotia, even Newfoundland, besides nurseries in the United States. Orders from the prairie provinces were dissuaded but some customers insisted on a trial basis. Walnut seed, the first two years went mostly to Western Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia. By 1939 the seedling nursery business that I had apparently fallen into, looked good. Rev. Crath and I talked the situation over. We decided to go to the country, lease some land. I would select the land and continue to grow seedlings and besides, import selected grafts to develop in Canada a hardy high quality grafted walnut tree.

In September we prepared to make another expedition. My banker was most agreeable this time. Rev. Crath got as far as New York where, awaiting the S. S. Batory to sail, the war broke out. The S. S. Pilsudski was sunk just out of Gdynia the next day. The S. S. Batory never did sail back to Poland. When he arrived home we went to the bank on a Saturday morning. The travellers' cheques were cancelled.

Rev. Crath in the 1936 expedition brought out a shipment of walnuts selected from the most northerly port of the Ukraine for Mr. Weschcke, St. Paul, Minn. I am not familiar with this part of his work.

Rev. Crath was a cheerful soul, an interesting and pleasant individual to talk to. He loved people and, especially, meeting people. He possessed a great love for humanity; he bore malice toward no one and charity to all except the Bolsheviks. He was a restless man—"always on the go". One could see he preferred to be missionary rather than a resident minister. Although he was away a good part of the time he was dearly loved by his family.

Shortly after his death, as an appreciation of his services as a minister among Ukranian families, special memorial services were held in Toronto, Oshawa and Detroit. I was invited to attend the Toronto service.

On a visit one day last August, 1952, to places where his Carpathian walnut trees were coming into bearing, he examined them and gazed at them with a look of joy and sadness. On the way home he was somewhat upset, he looked at me and said "Mr. Devitt, my good friend, at last our experiment is a success. Promise me two things; continue our work and go to the convention and tell our American friends to continue the work."

* * * * *

This is the story of the introduction of hardy Carpathian walnuts (Juglans regia) into Canada and the United States by the late Rev. Crath.

Looking back on the whole adventure (now twenty years ago) it would be only fair that I mention the names of three other men for the work they did to make the expedition a success. The late Professor James Neilson whose research in nut growing in Ontario and the United States was already well known should be mentioned. It was he who really "sparked" the expedition. To the late George H. Corsan whose nut growing experiment at Echo Valley was something unique in Ontario, credit is due for his enthusiasm and support of the late Reverend Crath. The American nut growers who were fortunate to obtain walnut seeds at the time through Wisconsin Horticultural Society can thank Mr. H. J. Rhamlow, then secretary. He took over the task of distributing the walnut seeds through the affiliated societies. He insisted that the seeds be tested for germination, kept in proper storage, and did everything possible to ensure success. However none of these men as I knew them then, and including myself, would want any credit, but we give full recognition to Reverend Crath for his work.

During the years spent in Poland Reverend Crath must have given the idea of growing hardy walnuts in Ontario and the Northern States considerable thought. He examined trees and nuts wherever he went; and continued gathering information each year. When I first met him I could see he had given walnut growing a great deal of study. He had great faith in his idea, and when leaving on his expedition 1934 he felt he was on a great mission. It should be remembered he made this arduous trip without pay and that he made very little money from the sale of walnut seeds or trees. No one did for that matter. It is also significant that in bringing these Carpathian walnuts out of Poland at that time, 1934, he did something that could never be done again. The trees he saw then probably went into rifle butts for use in World War II. The introduction of these walnuts into Ontario, met with varied success. Many bought them on a trial basis and were eventually rewarded; some looked on with skepticism and ridicule and a few thought that the growing of walnuts in Ontario was impossible. The intervening years, however, have brought forth a different picture. These seedling walnut trees are now bearing in Ontario and as late Reverend Crath predicted more than half of them are producing fair to good quality nuts. This is also true in the United States. In Ontario they grow well in the commercial apple districts and with variations mature nuts fully in 90 to 120 days (between Sept. 15 to October 15.) All of the best varieties should now be propagated by grafting to produce hundreds of hardy Crath Carpathian walnut trees. This project should always be one of the foremost with the members of the Northern Nut Growers Association. Twenty years from now and later, the number of hardy walnut trees producing nuts (Crath strain) should make a living monument to this obscure missionary—Rev. Paul C. Crath.

PRESIDENT BEST: Thank you very much, Mr. Devitt, for this very intriguing story. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. And we want to keep in touch with you, and we want to keep hearing from you, because you have got a big job to do yet.

MR. DEVITT: There is only one thing, ladies and gentlemen: I don't want to run into 5,000 letters to answer. Keep my name out of this. That is my walking-out request now. That's the story. I am going to continue to keep collecting samples. I hope some day to have a number myself of the best, and I might come back again sometime. I can't say every year; circumstances may be that I can't come. However, it's been a great pleasure for me to be here. I have wanted to come for 20 years, and I thought this year that I should come, because I am on this special mission of Reverend Crath's. Now you know what's going on in Ontario.

MR. SLATE: Mr. Chairman, I think the Association will answer the 5,000 letters, if he will ask.

MR. DEVITT: I didn't ask. Are there any questions?

DR. MCKAY: I'd like to ask a question. Was any scion wood ever brought over?

MR. DEVITT: There was some scion wood brought over by the Reverend Crath in the spring of 1935, and it was brought over on the boat. I remember in those years only one that grew on a tree belonging to Mr. Corsan. I don't think the other scion wood proved any good at all.

MR. STOKE: I got a little of that scion wood, and it had been waxed. The bark was nice and green, but the buds were dead.

MR. CALDWELL: Do you have a plantation of young, producing trees?

MR. DEVITT: No. My place, where I had those trees is now $3 million worth of buildings on 15 acres. You'd be looking down a street. They moved in in 1944, and built up 15 acres where I had one acre in the 15.

The Eastern Black Walnut as a Farm Timber Tree


Most people instinctively love trees. Perhaps this is an inherited result of arboreal ancestry. Even so, very few of us realize what an astonishingly close tie exists between the survival of trees and the well-being of the human race. Probably even fewer realize the very great importance, in the economy of animal life, of trees which bear nuts. Not alone for the sake of their nuts are they important, valuable as nuts are, but also for the sake of the unmatched timber which some of them produce, as well as for the sake of their service as soil conservers and builders, as beautifiers, and as silent, persistent builders of capital values.

In view of these outstanding qualities, it is strange that nut trees are today unfortunately and shamefully neglected in the north. Especially, I claim, is this true of the Eastern Black walnut. Here is a mystery. Why do not northern planters of trees plant more Eastern Black walnuts for their exceedingly valuable timber?

"Backward" Burma could give us lessons in intelligent forestry. It is said that the Burmese are permitted to clear their thickets and tropical woodlands for agricultural use only after they agree to plant a definite amount of that land in teak, perhaps the most valuable of all woods. It is said that, due to the effectiveness of this system, some 35,000 acres have now been stocked with this valuable timber.

There are two or three main reasons why the planting of Eastern Black walnut for timber is thus far not very common in America. (1). The native and favorable area of this tree is limited to a comparatively small section. (2), The tree grows well only in deep, fertile soil where quick-money crops have had the first call. Strip-mine planting is better than none at all, but such soil as is left after a strip-mine operation is hardly the best. (3) We are in too great a hurry. (4) Most farmers must have annual incomes, or they must quit farming.

What, then, are the offsetting reasons why this kind of planting should have an appeal to far-seeing people who are favorably located? In the first place, the Eastern Black walnut yields wood of unique quality. Pattern makers, who must work within tolerances of thousandths of an inch, prefer it. Walter Page, a well known sports writer has this to say: "Few woods come as close as walnut to fulfilling all the demands of a good gunstock: beauty of grain, workableness with cutting tools, resistance to warpage, weight or density in proportion to strength."

Another example of the many-sided versatility of this wood can be found in those timbered regions of America where termites are a problem for home owners. Termites seem to leave black walnut wood very much alone. It probably has a taste which termites cannot stomach. This is one reason why so many of the old rail fences of our ancestors in the walnut area were made of black walnut. The "ground-chunks," in particular, which were laid upon the ground under the corners of the worm-fences were often either of rock, or of walnut.

Just this year I watched the demolition of part of an old log cabin which was being riddled by termites. Many of the ordinary logs were in ruins but the walnut boards which had served as weather-boarding over the ends of some of the termite-infested logs were as sound and as beautifully preserved as they had been when they were placed there.

Is it any wonder that so many of the pioneers who had lived long enough in the termite area to see what could happen to other lumber, chose walnut, whenever they could get it, for structural work and for weatherboard protection?

Safety of operation is still another matter for consideration. If I wish to create an estate for my family or for my last years, how can I go about it with the best chance for success? Shall I go prospecting for precious metals? Thousands have failed at that job where but few have succeeded. Shall it be manufacturing? Count up the failures. For each success, at least ten go broke. Wall Street? The Wall Street journals themselves give the statistics. More than 90 percent of all persistent Wall Street gamblers lose money in the end. Farming? Much safer, but most farmers who have made much money in the past have accomplished it by way of an increase in the value of their land rather than through their farming operations. This is the result of fluctuating prices. Bad years often eat up the savings of good years. Then, too, the good farmer is a busy man. The better the year the busier he is. Very little time remains for side issues, such as the planting of trees.

As a matter of fact, as erosion of the soil progresses, as good, productive land becomes more scarce, and as farm labor becomes more and more difficult to employ, the attention of informed farm owners and operators has been turning more and more to soil-building, perennial, permanent and labor-saving crops. Of these, grass and tree crops are, far and away, the most promising today.

In view of what I have found out during the last 20 years, I am quite sure that, if I were starting now, I should expect to make farming a major element in my estate building, but it would be mostly tree and grass farming, not grain farming. I should need livestock, of course, to make use of the grass. And I like livestock.

This is what I ask of life: First of all, I must enjoy my work. I do not care to spend all my days in getting ready to live. My job must lie along the road I like to travel. I do not care to work at a task so burdensome, so time-consuming that I have no heart for the enjoyment of living. At the same time, a big part of the plan must be to find a good, safe way to build an estate. It must be feasible, practical, enjoyable.

I believe, in the light of my own recent experience, that if one is properly situated, there is much to be said for the idea of undertaking the practice of forestry upon a rather liberal scale using Eastern Black walnut trees as a foundation.

In the first place, I ask, what living thing upon one's farm will cause less labor than a forest tree? I know of none. This fulfills the first requirement. A forest tree calls for a minimum of attention as compared with other crops. This is especially true if one permits livestock to keep down weeds and brush. And here I am likely to be called a heretic. The authorities say, "No grazing in a forest". However, in this field of forestry there are some traditional maxims which, to say the least, are not capable of universal application. The authorities, too, have been known to rely upon what other authorities tell them—without investigating the facts for themselves. It is not well to rely too implicitly or trustfully upon the "authorities", either ecclesiastical or scientific. "No grazing" is a valid enough rule to follow in the ordinary forest, but I have found that after the trees are well grown we can graze the land under a deep-rooted walnut tree which is planted in deep, rich soil as we would graze any meadow land—in reason and in moderation. The practice is profitable for annual income and it keeps down the fire hazard. One bad fire in an ungrazed or unmown piece of brush-covered undergrowth can destroy in an hour 50 years of timber growth. If we plant deep-rooted nut trees in deep, rich soil, and if we fertilize that soil as any valuable permanent pasture land is fertilized, we can graze that land without injury to the trees or the land.

One other reason which is given for the prohibition of grazing is the desire to save young tree growth. This is justified in ordinary forestry practice by the need to get annual income through successive cuttings. The young growth must be encouraged to come on. Even so, it must be thinned as it comes. However, a forest of black walnut trees yields its annual income in another way—through its nuts and its livestock.

Trees in such a forest should be planted close enough together to cause them to reach straight up as they grow. They will not all reach straight up, of course, but enough will do so to produce as many saw-logs as will normally grow in a forest; that is, if they have been properly planted in the first place.

In my own modified forest-type planting, the black walnut trees stand 8 feet apart in rows 20 feet apart. The 20-foot spacing between rows was planned to provide more sunlight for nut production during the early years. No one ever planted a forest in that way, so far as I know. The trees are now 17 years old, about 3250 of them in all. In the best soil of this 20 acres I can count about 1000 forest-type, straight, well-grown trees. There are about 1500 lesser trees, low-limbed trees which will eventually be used, perhaps, for posts or some such purpose. There are, I regret to say, about 750 trees that will never be worth anything. An eroded slope and a hidden clay bed explain these misbegotten dwarfs.

The variable growth of these trees proves that the first care in making a planting of walnut for timber should be to plant in good soil, deep and well drained. Bottom land, even some that is occasionally overflown with flood-water, and therefore not the best wheat land, should be excellent for Eastern Black walnuts if the drainage is good. Rule two:—Select your seed or seedlings from large, straight-growing, healthy parents. This rule needs explanation.

In last October's NUTSHELL, an organ of the Northern Nut Growers' Association, Spencer Chase, its editor, called attention to a showing of Carpathian Persian walnuts by Mr. H. F. Stoke which illustrated what was called "the variability of seedling trees." The progenitor of these seedlings was a Lancaster Carpathian Persian walnut tree. Differences in size, appearance and quality of nuts from these seedlings were said to have been remarkable. Such differences, we know, are greater with some species than with others. A variable ancestry often results in a variable progeny. On the other hand, I know that my Eastern American black walnuts do tend to reproduce the characteristics of their parents. I have long rows of seedling trees, all from one parent tree, standing alongside long rows of seedlings from another parent. The similarity of the tree growth and nut production of the trees in their own rows, and their contrast in growth of trees and nuts to those in adjoining rows is striking and to me conclusive. A photograph taken by Dr. O. D. Diller, of Ohio State University, in 1946, shows trees in a right-hand row grown from seed of a tree on the Kinsey farm, while on the left are seedlings of a tree on the McCoy farm. The circumference of trunks of Kinsey seedlings averages more than twice that of McCoy trees. Same soil, same age (11 years), same treatment.

Those same trees, now 17 years old, still show these striking characteristics. It is true that each tree in a row of seedlings is an individual in its own right. No others are exactly like it. Nevertheless, the family resemblances in that row are very like those in human families. They are especially noticeable in the nuts—with, for example, rough shells in one row and smooth shells in another; mainly large nuts in one and mainly small nuts in an adjoining family. Also, some rows have mostly straight-growing trees, others are predominantly branchy, like the Thomas.

It should be said in this connection that practically all of the parent trees of these seedlings stood in isolated positions and little subject to pollination from other trees.

So much for the Eastern Black walnut's evidence of hereditary influence. So, let us take inventory.

Today, I figure that the thousand well-grown trees in this planting are each adding a dollar per year to the value of the 20 acres upon which they stand. $1000 per year in all. This estimate, which of course seems optimistic, is based upon the statement of a walnut tree buyer—a sawmill man—who tells me that a well grown, deep-soil, 50-year-old Eastern Black walnut tree should average about $50 in value. Thus far, my 17-year-old youngsters, some of them nearly 3 feet in girth (9-1/2 to 11 or more inches in diameter at breast height) look promising.

In addition to the potential added value of $1000 per year, this 20 acres has produced about two tons of in-hull nuts from selected trees only, in each of the past two years, (with more than that in prospect this year), while the land beneath the trees grows good pasture and helps to support a small herd of cattle and calves.

Once the trees were thoroughly established, the labor investment has been very small. Nature, for the most part, has done her own pruning, and has done it better than I deserve. Since the first half-dozen years, there has been no cultivation. The trees have been practically trouble-free. Winds have damaged a few and one wet spot has killed three trees. There are a few black locust trees among the walnuts. I can see no evidence that the walnuts have made either better or poorer growth because of the proximity of these nitrogen storers. Perhaps the evidence will show up later. We shall see.

The last item in this inventory, added value to the estate, is still potential, but the potential is surprising. If my walnut timber buyer's estimate is trustworthy, in 17 years the best 1000 trees have added 17,000 potential dollars to the value of that 20 acres. And they have done it with safety, with little labor on my part and, lately, with annual dividends of excellent nuts and good pasture. No other kind of forestry that I know of can do that.

It would, of course, be foolish to claim that the kind of management here described would be wise or workable with other forest species. Wise forest management requires, first of all, that the choice of species shall be adapted to the soil and climate favored by that species. It requires a proper density of stand. Finally, good management demands that a choice be made of the most valuable type of timber that can be produced upon your land. If you can grow walnut successfully, it would be foolish to grow Willow or Box Elder.

One necessary thing I must do, a thing that I should advise others similarly situated to do, namely, place a tight legal fence around this twenty acres in order to assure the trees' survival until 50 years have proved or disproved my faith. For, after all, these trees are guinea pigs—pioneering. They break some traditional rules. The land they stand on is grazed. They are not set the traditional 80 feet apart. Their nut crops may dwindle away. One never sees walnut trees growing in pure stands—always with other species which scatter their seeds and push in. They are not monopolists—like the pines.

Very well, we shall see. My own small experiment in unorthodox ways has the temerity to suggest a new treatment for a species of timber tree which I personally regard as America's very best gift of its kind to the world. For 17 years my modified forest-type planting of black walnut trees has not disappointed me. That is why I now believe that the farmer in the Eastern black walnut's native habitat who fails to set out these nut trees wherever he can is losing a good opportunity.

The McKinster Persian Walnut

P. E. MACHOVINA, Columbus, Ohio

The McKinster Persian walnut first attracted public attention when it received first place in the preliminary Persian walnut contest conducted by the Northern Nut Growers Association in 1949. In the follow-up contest of 1950, the variety was granted third place. The McKinster tree resulted from Crath Carpathian seed secured through the Wisconsin Horticultural Society by Mr. Ray McKinster of Columbus, Ohio. The seed was obtained and planted in the spring of 1938, hence the tree is now 15 years of age. Probably this seed was secured by Rev. Crath during his last trip when, presumably, he made some of his most careful selections.

Altogether, Mr. McKinster planted eleven Crath nuts in the back yard of his small city lot, nine of which germinated. All but two of the resulting seedlings were distributed to friends and relatives living in the countryside. Many of these trees have disappeared due to accidents and lack of care; a few, however, have produced nuts which apparently are not exceptional. One such nut examined was of medium size with a fairly thick shell; the kernel was of good flavor but somewhat bitter. Of the two trees retained by Mr. McKinster, both were permitted to grow where the seed was planted, however one died of an unknown cause when five years of age. Nuts produced by this tree were inferior to those produced by the survivor which later became known as the McKinster variety.

The McKinster tree may be viewed in the accompanying illustrations which show it without foliage and with foliage. The pictures were taken in March and August, respectively, 1953. Since it is a very beautiful and relatively clean tree, the McKinster would be desirable in any yard. From the pictures, it will be noted that the site is unfortunate being restricted by two garages, an alley, and with numerous overhead utility wires. Some effort was made two years ago to keep the tree out of the wires by cutting back top growth. The trimming stimulated the usual vigorous, annual growth to produce terminals as great as 10 feet in one year. Ordinarily, annual growths of 6 feet of husky wood are not unusual. New wood and buds are hardy in appearance and assume a rich brown color upon maturing. With such growth, cutting 1000 feet of scion wood annually would be no problem. The tree is now about 35 feet in height with a like spread.

The bearing record of the McKinster Persian has been excellent. Its first crop of five or six nuts was borne at five years of age and large crops have been consistently set each year since with but one exception. Crop records have been impossible to maintain since the tree is located in a section of the city where squirrels abound. Any nuts saved must be protected by screen-wire cages. The hunger of the squirrels for the nuts is amazing. For example, in 1951, they descended upon the tree during the first week of July and destroyed all nuts of the large crop within two weeks. These nuts could not possibly have been filled and, consequently, could have been of little nutrient value. In their voracity, the squirrels frequently work on the cages and sometimes manage to break through. To facilitate this endeavor, limbs up to one inch in diameter carrying cages are sometimes cut off so the squirrels can attack more conveniently from the ground.

It could be that nuts saved by caging are sometimes inferior. The cages used are made by folding window screen into a doubled, 4 to 6 inch square, producing an "envelope" with wire sewn edges. Crowding from one to three nuts into a cage may result in inhibited development, especially since considerable leaf surface must be removed when installing a cage. Because Mr. McKinster has been ill for several years, it has been difficult to accomplish the caging; consequently, but few nuts are saved. For example, in 1950, there were insufficient nuts to meet the 25 nut sample required by the contest judges. All available nuts, some probably inferior, were entered, and it is a matter of conjecture whether the nuts might have been judged higher under different circumstances. Also conjectural are the questions of crop size and regularity of bearing in the event the tree was permitted to mature its nuts.

The McKinster nuts, which were the principal consideration in the contests rather than the tree itself, are excellent in nearly all aspects. They are of medium size, averaging around 35 to the pound, with about 52 per cent kernel. The shell is moderately thin, light in color, well sealed, of a satisfactory shape (see illustration), and with excellent cracking qualities. The kernel is light, plump, of excellent flavor, and in the words of one authority, "probably rank with the best in freedom from bitterness." The nuts are matured by the middle of September and, later, drop, free of the husk.

Blooming of the parent tree usually occurs during the first week of May. In 1951, the staminate flowers were first observed April 29 and the pistillate flowers May 2. The narrator visited the tree on May 4 at which time some catkins had fallen; it was estimated that one-half to two-thirds of the pollen had been shed. The pistillate flowers appeared to be either receptive or slightly past at this stage. Mr. McKinster commented that the blooming period of 1951 was from a few days to a week earlier than usual. In 1952, the shedding of pollen started on April 29. From the foregoing, it may be noted that the McKinster Persian is entirely or largely self-pollinating. No other Persian walnut trees which might assist in pollination occur in the vicinity and all known seedlings raised from nuts of the parent McKinster tree have appeared to be pure Persian. Leafing out starts about a week before the bloom appears. In the fall, leaves are colored a beautiful bronze and are brought down in a great shower by the first frost.

A sample of the soil in which the McKinster tree is growing, taken at a depth of 6 inches, was tested in July 1950. The results specify that the soil is mostly silt with an average amount of organic matter and that evidence indicates it to contain ashes. The acidity is specified as "neutral", potash "high", and phosphate "low". No mention is made of available nitrogen; however, the dark green color of the leaves and vigorousness of growth would indicate a satisfactory supply. Fertilizer in small amount was applied once or twice during the early life of the tree; also, during this period, Mr. McKinster "spaded in" garbage, etc., to increase the humus content of the soil. In 1951, the narrator checked the pH of the soil near the surface and obtained a value of 6.5.

Only one instance of damage due to climatic conditions and none whatsoever from insects and diseases has ever been observed with the parent McKinster tree. Undoubtedly, the city location offers some protection from frost, but may also be detrimental, on occasion, through heat reflected from the many surrounding white-painted buildings. For example, an unseasonable warm spell occurred in Columbus during the latter part of the first week in April of the current year. The heat, lasting for several days, reached a high of 80.4 degrees and, as a result, the McKinster tree started vegetating. Leaf growths of from one-half to one inch had been reached when normal conditions returned. Two weeks later, a cold spell with snow and temperatures of 22 degrees killed the new growth but did not injure the wood. Following this, leafing re-occurred, but at a slower rate and somewhat later than normal. The size ultimately attained by the leaves is about one-half their usual size, and, consequently, the accompanying illustration, taken this summer, does not exhibit the usual luxuriant appearance of the tree. A large part of the bloom was damaged by the cold, hence the tree set a lighter crop of nuts than usual.

In connection with early vegetating, it may be remarked that Mr. McKinster, several years ago, presented two small grafted trees of his variety to a relative living in eastern Kentucky. These trees were planted on low ground and were killed the first year by late spring frosts after leafing out twice. Thus it seems evident that the McKinster tree has the fault, common in Carpathians, of leafing out too early and being injured by late spring frosts, especially when planted too far south. Three other trees, grafted by Mr. McKinster and now about four years from the graft, are situated in the countryside several miles south of Columbus, Ohio, where they are doing excellently, having never been damaged.

The writer has several three year old McKinster grafts at his property in southeastern Ohio which were deliberately set on stocks located in a bad frost pocket. The grafts, which are adjacent to a woods, have made fair growth each spring but are injured during the summer by an insect laying eggs in the succulent growth. The portion of terminal above the point of sting invariably dies the following winter and has the appearance produced by winter killing. This damage has not been unique with the McKinster, having also occurred with the McDermid, Watt, Burtner, and other Persian varieties growing nearby; some of the latter were killed outright the first winter after grafting.

A one-year McKinster grafted tree with three feet of growth above the graft was cut back and transplanted by the writer to the yard of his Columbus, Ohio, home during the winter of 1952. Growth the following spring was about two feet and obtained in rather poor soil. After a long absence during the summer which was attended by a prolonged drouth, the tree was found in a dying condition, having lost all its leaves. Hurried watering resulted in a complete new coat of leaves and a small amount of additional terminal growth. The tree matured its growth and withstood the winter nicely, but suffered, similar to the parent, from the April, 1953, unseasonable weather. Growth this summer from adventitious buds has been poor.

Unfortunately, the McKinster variety saw but little testing in other parts of the country prior to its recognition in 1949. So that this report might be as complete as possible, requests were sent to several dozen experimenters who are known to have grafted the McKinster, asking for their experiences and opinions of the variety. The requests went to people scattered generally throughout the northeastern portion of the country, a very few of which had received scion wood in 1950, a larger portion in 1951, and the bulk in 1952. For the most part, replies indicate satisfaction and even enthusiasm; very few report failure. Definite conclusions cannot be drawn because of the short time of trial; however, a general description of experiences will provide indications.

Few experimenters report failure in grafting, most stating the variety to be "easy to graft." Any who mention the characteristic, state that "grafts are vigorous," or that "it is a fairly rapid grower." For the experimenters, the McKinster seems to be about "average" in its time of leafing out. Many report a set of nuts the second year after grafting. As to time of maturing new growth, the reply of Mr. Stephen Bernath of New York, "New growth matures about the end of September," is fairly typical, as is the reply of Dr. R. T. Dunstan of North Carolina, "It appears to harden wood well ahead of frost." Most reports indicate no winter injury but are tempered by cautious observations that temperatures had not been low. Mr. H. F. Stoke of Virginia, who grafted the McKinster in the spring of 1950, reports: "Pistillate buds developed during the summer of 1951 were killed by a frost catching new growth in the spring of 1952." Mr. John Howe of Missouri was the sole reporter of catastrophe when he stated: "My McKinster graft was killed by the November, 1951, cold while the Lake and McDermid varieties close by were not hurt." Mr. Sylvester Shessler of northern Ohio reports: "The McKinster withstood, without injury, the 1951 winter which killed 4 hybrids and a Crath, and injured several others." Mr. Harry P. Burgart of Michigan reports the variety as doing extra well for him. The only reply mentioning disease came from Dr. Dunstan who says: "It has been fairly clean in foliage so far, less susceptible to leaf spot than some." Mr. John Gerstenmaier of Massillon, Ohio, grafted the McKinster in 1951 and reports excellent growth with a diameter of 2 inches at the graft after two years. He reports temperatures of 16 degrees very early in November which caused no harm, and pistillate bloom from May 8 to 16, 1952, which materialized into a crop of two nuts; pollen was supplied by adjacent Carpathians. Leafing out ordinarily starts about a week prior to the bloom for Mr. Gerstenmaier; but, in April, 1953, the unseasonable weather conditions also occurring in his vicinity caused early vegetating and killing, while at nearby Orrville, the variety was undamaged.

Mr. Gilbert Becker of Michigan, who is enthusiastic about the McKinster variety, believes the qualities of the nut to be superb and the characteristics of the tree satisfactory. He is of the opinion that the too-short dormancy of the variety is not a serious objection, particularly with climatic conditions such as those experienced in Michigan. Even in central Ohio, where peach and apple crops are frequently lost due to spring frosts, the McKinster has not been injured when located in the countryside and injured but once during its 15 years, with a resultant smaller than usual crop, when located in the city.

In closing, it might be well to comment on the fact that nuts of the McKinster, Hansen and Jacobs varieties alone placed high in both the 1949 and 1950 N.N.G.A. contests and that different panels of judges served in the two events. Certainly the nuts of these varieties are of a superior quality, and it would seem important to determine those parts of the country where these varieties are sufficiently hardy to be of commercial value. Certainly these varieties should be given every opportunity to prove themselves.

Carpathian Walnuts in the Columbia River Basin

LYNN TUTTLE, Clarkston, Wash.

Mr. Chairman and friends of the nut culture, I regret that I cannot meet with you at this time, but fate seems to have decreed otherwise. The pleasant memory of the meeting at Guelph is still with me and I must admit a feeling of humility as I prepare this paper for a group of sincere and devoted people united in a common interest.

The Pacific Northwest extends from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. This area is divided by the Cascade Mountains which run north and south. Between the Cascades and the Pacific we have a coastal area wherein winters are generally mild, summers cool, and rainfall abundant. Under these, conditions many plants do not attain a high degree of dormancy. Zero weather in Seattle will damage walnuts as much as will twenty-five degrees below zero in the more continental climate east of the Cascades. Carpathian walnuts have proved their value under both coastal and interior conditions. This hardiness is at least partially due to their tendency to mature their buds and harden their growth earlier in the fall than do other types of English walnuts.

Between the Cascades and the Rockies is a vast area part plateau and part mountains. It is scarred with deep canyons and crossed by swift streams fed from springs and mountain snows. Roughly the elevation of farm lands varies from five hundred to over forty-five hundred feet. Depending largely on slope and elevation, rainfall varies from about eight to twenty-five inches. In general, summer days are bright, dry, and fairly hot. Nights are clear and cool. Winters are unpredictable but always vary much according to location and elevation. Infrequently temperatures may drop to more than twenty below zero at Clarkston. Other areas of similar elevation may be five to ten degrees colder.

For the sake of clarity and to reduce the territory covered, we will confine ourselves largely to that part of the Columbia Basin irrigated and to be irrigated in Central Washington. The application is general, however.

Grand Coulee Dam has made feasible the irrigation of about 1-1/4 million acres of sage brush, bunch grass, and marginal wheat lands. Irrigation is already practised over other vast acreages. This land is level to rolling, and is of sandy loam nature. It is deeply under-laid by layers of lava rock—in places thousands of feet thick. As in most arid climates the soil is rich in minerals but low in nitrogen and organic matter. Under irrigation production is amazing. The growing season is sufficiently long for Carpathian walnuts anywhere in the irrigated area.

Walnuts originally from Southern Europe have proved unsatisfactory because they killed at 20 to 25 below zero. It was discouraging to have a ten or fifteen year old tree killed outright by an unusual winter. But it was just these conditions that led to the discovery of the Schafer walnut. This tree survived the winters of 1936 and 1937 in a part of the Yakima valley where all other varieties similarly located were killed. So far as I know, none of these were Carpathians.

Many Carpathians are now being planted, mostly for yard trees, but promise to eventually become one of the big commercial crops of the area. However, skepticism on the part of the public and scarcity of nursery stock has delayed commercial planting. A fair portion of good growers are now convinced that commercial growing is profitable and stock, our own and others, is becoming more plentiful.

Our experience has been confined largely to the Schafer walnut and it is, aside from some promising seedlings, so far as we know, the only proven Carpathian in this area. We do not wish to discredit possibilities of any other variety, but must speak out of our own observations. There are numerous small, commercial plantings now producing, the nuts being sold locally. Accurate production figures are not available and if available would vary greatly due to the care given the trees. The Schafer, and this will undoubtedly hold true of some other Carpathians, bears more at five years than a Franquette does at ten. I have seen apple boxes (about one bushel) of nuts harvested from five and six years old trees. Production increases rapidly with age.

As with fruit trees good air drainage and good soil drainage are desirable for the walnut orchard. The Schafer starts fairly early in the spring and new leaves are easily nipped by late frosts. A severe late freeze might also injure new growth although I do not recall a crop having been lost due to this cause. Although pollinizers have not been used, we think that on young trees and in some years they might insure a better crop. We are now propagating two pollinizing varieties the catkins of which come out later than the Schafer.

Trees planted sixty feet apart permit inter-planting to row and other crops for several years. Columbia Basin lands under irrigation produce enormous crops of potatoes, beans, sugar beets, rutabagas, green peas, clover or alfalfa seed, peppermint oil, and fruit. Average potato—20 tons, alfalfa hay—7 tons (three cuttings), alfalfa seed—800 pounds, dry beans—2,500 pounds, wheat—70 to 100 bushels. In some areas peach or apricot trees make good fillers.

Carpathians also fit into the picture as yard trees, for border plantings,—either to utilize run-off water or to use water wasted along ditches and pipe lines and for wind breaks. This open country is naturally windy and trees greatly reduce the ground velocity of wind.

Nut production in this area appears to be much heavier than on the coast or in California with varieties now being grown there. So far we are pest-free. The potentials of good Carpathian walnuts in this area are unlimited.

Walnuts and Filberts in Southern Wisconsin

C. F. LADWIG, Beloit, Wisc.

My farm is located a few blocks north of the Illinois-Wisconsin line on a rise overlooking the city of Beloit, whose western limits are almost adjacent to my land. Temperature in this section ranges from 100 degrees above to 30 degrees below zero; rarely reaching either extreme—with an average frost free period of 173 days. Rainfall averages approximately 35 inches. Walnut, butternut, bitternut, hazel and hickory are native, but just about non-existent in my vicinity except on my place in the young state.

The land on my place has been tobaccoed and corned out for over 100 years and its once rich clay loam with sandy streaks was unable to grow ragweed over 2 inches high when I bought it. Trying to grow nut trees in this soil presents problems as you well know. My problem was not to get them to grow vigorously but to get them to grow at all. However, by using fertile spots, formerly barnyard and around the house, I got several walnuts and filberts started.

I have an eight year old Crath #1, two Myers black walnuts, about the same age, Cochrane and Thomas, 6 years, all obtained from Mr. Berhow, and a fine assortment of Jones hybrid filberts from Mrs. Langdoc, a Rush filbert from Mr. Burgart, two European filberts from the New York State Fruit Testing Association, some hybrid seedlings, some native hazels from seed, some bitternut seedlings from Mr. Weschcke, a few native hickory seedlings, an American chestnut seedling from Scarff, 2 butternut seedlings, 2 nice Chinese tree hazels from Mr. Shessler, several Jacobs walnut seedlings, and regia & hindsii hybrids from seed of Mr. Pozzi, some Crath seedlings and a number of Thomas black walnut seedlings—also native walnut seedlings.

Mr. Shessler and Prof. J. C. McDaniel have been a source of help, advice, and inspiration to me and I am deeply indebted to them, as well as to many other members of the N.N.G.A. who have shared their experiences with me.

How have the trees done? The Crath #1 is bearing a few nuts this year. It had no catkins, but the Cochrane was loaded with staminate bloom at the right time. I got busy with the Cochrane pollen and a brush and went to work on the Crath pistillate bloom. Very pleased with this cross I looked the Crath over a few days later to check on progress. I picked the little nutlets off the ground and inspected them carefully, then threw them into the chickens to see if they would eat them. Back in my mind was the feeling that Mother Nature thought I was getting too big for my britches and decided to teach me a lesson. However she generously allowed a few air pollinated nutlets to grow, and so there will be a small crop of the round and plump smooth green balls.

The Crath #1 is not perfectly hardy as it freezes back an inch or two in the cold winters. Two years ago the warm wet fall left it unprepared for the sudden onslaught of winter and several whole branches died and the trunk split open, the split sounding like a rifle shot one cold, crisp evening. I happened to be standing by it at the time.

The Myers black walnuts are splendid trees and just about hardy. They bore a few nuts and second and third year from planting, which sapped their vitality. They then bore nothing for about three years, which happened to be unfavorable years for walnuts anyway, and began to bear again this year with a moderate crop. It looks like the plum curculio, my arch insect enemy, is trying the nuts for size. I saved some Cochrane pollen and went to work on the Myers, with you know what results. However three of the nutlets stayed on the tree; so that I may have effected a cross between Myers and Cochrane.

Thomas has acted peculiarly for me. It went thru the devastating winters of 1950 and 1951 in fine shape, then froze back last winter when the temperatures never went below 5 degrees below zero. The very dry fall should have ripened all branches to perfection. My mule, Zombie, took a liking to the branches and leaves of this tree, so it is now trimmed up like an umbrella. The small nut crop must have also gone down Zombie's gullet. He is more destructive to walnut and plum than the curculio. (Tie him up. Ed.) Thomas does not seem to have a great future up here.

Now Cochrane is different. If that little tree has as many nuts on it as it had catkins this year, I'm going to have to move the corn out of the crib and put the walnuts in there. It is not a fast growing tree, but this may be the fault of the spot it is in, judging by the color of the leaves. I never got around to fertilizing it.

Now that I told you about the Cochrane, I'll have to tell you about the "Wayne" black walnut. It is eight years old, stands about eight feet high and is hardy. My Black Walnut seedlings stand from six inches to six feet high. They go back to six inches every other year when I cut them down to graft them. Nobody in the nut tree field can call me a grafter. I'll make him prove it!

The hickory, butternut, bitternut, and chestnut are step children and fend for themselves on less desirable soil. All are small. The regia-hindsii hybrids are small and young and are being given special care, but may not be perfectly hardy. They grow well.

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