How to Care For California Grown Walnut Trees
Not only do walnut trees give us a nutritious and delicious nut, but they are also known for producing high quality wood. On hot days, the large, arched limbs of the walnut tree provide lots of shade.
Growing Walnut Trees
Many walnut trees that can be found growing in the United States attain a height of over 50 feet, with similarity in width. Persian and English black walnuts are most commonly grown in the United States, and are used for production of nuts as well as for shade. A fully mature tree is capable of producing between 50 and 80 pounds of walnuts yearly. The Persian walnut tree has large nuts and is the most common variety grown in California. Several cultivars exist, including Chandler, Ashley, Pedro, Howard, Hartley, Serr Vina, Tehama and Sunland. To avoid the walnut blight, all these cultivars leaf out late in spring. Mediterranean climates, which Persian walnuts are adapted to, have mild winters and this type requires similar conditions. Between 140 and 150 days annually are required where the temperature ranges from -2 to -6 C (27 and 29 F) to successfully grow walnuts.
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Planting of Walnut Trees
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Planting your walnut tree is the next step after choosing the variety of walnut you want. You need to till an area of approximately 12 square feet to a depth of at least 10 inches to get rid of grass and weeds which would compete with your trees for nutrients and water. After this, dig a hole that is about 1 or 2 inches larger than the root ball of your walnut seedling. Plant the walnut seedling up to the same depth as its pot or bury its roots 1 to 2 inches underneath the soil. After you fill in the hole, you should tamp down to ensure that there are no air pockets left around the seedling’s roots. Next, water the walnut plant, moistening the soil without soaking it.
Care of Walnut Trees
Because of their extensive root system, walnut trees do not need constant watering unless the soil’s top 2 inches are dried out. A maturing walnut tree does not require any pruning unless its branches are damaged or dead. Mulch the tree as needed every spring.
Harvesting Your Walnuts
It is essential to be patient. This is because the walnut trees will not produce any nuts until they are roughly 10 years and production peaks at about 30 years of age. How will you know when to begin harvesting your nuts? Harvesting of Persian walnuts is carried out when the seed coat turns light tan. Commercial walnut producers shake the tree with a limb shaker which has a window to collect the nuts depending on how large a walnut tree is. Shaking the tree manually and collecting fallen nuts is the standard harvesting method for home growers.