Walnuts are native to North America. They have been cultivated since the beginning of time. The most common form of cultivation is called nutpicking, which means that they were grown from seeds and harvested by hand. However, there are other forms of cultivation such as grafting or grafting into trees (grafting). Grafted walnuts will grow larger than their unaltered counterparts, but not necessarily better quality nuts.
The walnut tree is one of the oldest trees in existence. The first walnuts were found in China around 2000 BC. Around 300 years later, they made their way to Europe where they became popular for food and medicine. By the 16th century, walnuts had become so valuable that English colonists began growing them commercially as well as using them medicinally.
In 1802, John Chapman planted a few hundred seedlings at his home near Boston Harbor in Massachusetts. One year later, he planted another batch of walnuts in the same spot. When he died in 1825, his heirs sold all of his walnut trees to John D’Agostino, a wealthy New York merchant. By the mid-1820’s, D’Agostino was selling walnuts for $1 per pound!
By 1840, over 100 million pounds of walnuts were being produced annually in England alone. California became the biggest producer of walnuts by the 1800s, after a pair of honeymooning Englishmen brought back several nuts from their travels to the Middle East. In 1890, they began to grow them in California, and by 1895, California had become one of the leading producers of the nut.
By 1920, The University of California established the first walnut research farm in California. Since then, California has emerged as a leader in producing high-quality walnuts. U.S. production is now mainly centered in California, Oregon and Washington State.
How To Prune A Walnut Tree
How to prune a walnut tree is not difficult, but there are some things that you need to consider. First and foremost, you must make sure that a particular variety of walnut can grow well in your region. Some varieties of walnut trees need to be grown in colder areas while others prefer warmer locations. Next, you need to consider the age of your tree and how developed it already is. A younger tree will require a different type of pruning than an older, more developed one.
In this article, we will focus on how to prune an older, more developed walnut tree. The process is actually quite simple and easy to do if you have the right tools. The first thing that you need to do before pruning your tree is to analyze it. Stand back at least 10-15 feet away from the tree and just view it in general. Look at the height, width and overall shape of the tree.
The first thing that you need to do is decide if your tree needs thinning or not. If there are large gaps between the branches on one side of the tree as compared to the other, then it is most likely that you will need to do some type of thinning. Thinning involves selectively removing branches to allow more sunlight to pass through to the center of the tree and encourage new growth.
If your tree doesn’t need thinning, then you can move on to the next step. If it does, then you will need to use your chainsaw or handsaw to do the job. Start by removing the branches that are growing toward the center of the tree. After this, look at the branches on either side of the tree.
If one side has more branches than the other, then you will need to even them out. You can do this by removing the extra branches on the side that has more or by removing some of the main branches on the side that has less. After you have finished your thinning, your tree should already look a little different and have more sunlight passing through to the center.
Now it is time to shape your tree. While this may seem daunting to the first time pruner, it is actually a simple process. Just look at the tree and picture how you would like it to look. For instance, you might want to try creating an “A-Frame” style with an upside-down V shape or a more natural looking bowl shape. It is really just up to your personal taste and preference.
After you have decided on the style, use your saw to start making cuts. As you cut off branches, others will spring back and some of these Spring Back Branches (SBBs) can be used to your advantage. SBBs that are growing toward the center of the tree can be left if they appear strong enough to support some of the weight. However, if an SBB is growing away from the center of the tree, then it should be removed because it will only serve to weaken the tree and make it more susceptible to disease or storm damage.
After you have finished your cuts, your tree should already look different than it did before. Of course, at this point some shaping will be needed but it is really just a matter of taste at this point. As long as the main structure of the tree is in place, you are good to go. Once you are finished shaping your tree into its new look, you can apply some tree paint to help protect the exposed wood.
After your paint has dried, you can add mulch around the base of the tree to help preserve moisture and nourish the roots. Be sure that you only use mulch from natural sources like leaves, grass clippings or wood chips because using mulch from artificial materials may actually be harmful to your tree’s health.
If this is your very first time pruning a tree, then you are already ahead of the game! Not only will your tree look great, but you will have increased your value as an employee because not everyone knows how to keep a tree looking its best.
Plus, who doesn’t look more like a pro when they can walk around and confidently prune any tree that they see?
Whether you are doing this as a profession or just to increase your own home’s curb appeal, proper pruning can definitely make a difference. Be sure to keep these pointers in mind and enjoy the wonderful world of arboriculture!
Sources & references used in this article:
Internal defects associated with pruned and nonpruned branch stubs in black walnut by AL Shigo, E Allen Jr, DT Funk, N Rogers – Res. Pap. NE-440 …, 1979 – fs.usda.gov
Black walnut on Kansas strip mine spoils: Some observations 25 years after pruning by AL Shigo – 1978 – books.google.com
Annual and biennial mechanical pruning of hedgerow English walnuts by DE Ramos, WH Olson, JW Osgood… – … Pruning of Fruit Trees …, 1991 – actahort.org
Growing black walnut for nut production by W Reid, M Coggeshall, HE Garrett… – … -2009. Agroforestry in …, 2009 – fs.usda.gov
Training and pruning your home orchard by RL Stebbins – 1990 – ir.library.oregonstate.edu