A Festival For Nut Growers
The planning for the inaugural planting of the Niagara Nut Grove, a joint project of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and the Society of Ontario Nut Growers started in earnest late one afternoon immediately before a New Year's Day. The date was Friday, December 31, 1976. The planning committee consisted of Harold Clement, Jim Manicom, Ernie Grimo, John Gordon, Bob Hambleton and Doug Campbell. The committee came together at the regional offices of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, Fonthill (Pelham), Ontario. It was the purpose of the planning committee to meet the many challenges of establishing a nut tree arboretum ... site selection and preparation, selection and purchasing of nut tree nursery stock, establishing a planting plan and a maintenance schedule ... One of the most sensitive decisions was to determine the best date for making the inaugural planting. It is rather difficult in the dingy days of December to speculate about the quality of the weather,in the following month of April and it would not be fitting if the inaugural planters should get soaking wet! The committee bravely selected Saturday, April 16, 1977, as the appointed day.
What sort of a day was it? Simply gorgeous! The dawning of April 16, 1977, revealed a day of clearest blue and sparkling sun with an ideal shirt-sleeve working temperature of 22C (72°F) ... truly, one of Niagara's best! By 2:00 p.m. it was apparent that there was a tremendous turn-out of nut growers. The activities started with a demonstration planting of a nut tree. John Gordon, Vice President of SONG ably demonstrated the best planting techniques. John talked about the necessities for good soil preparation, positioning of the tree, backfilling and tamping the soil, watering, mulching, fertilizing, pruning, wound dressings and last but certainly not least, the protection of young trees against rodent damage. The SONG membership then took over and ushered the 165 nut trees to their respective planting places. What an inspiring scene ... to see so many nut growers so enthusiastic about playing their part in establishing this most unique nut tree arboretum in North America. There were SONG members who were new to nut growing and perhaps were planting their first nut tree ... a great learning experience. There were senior citizens participating who were obviously very experienced horticulturists who were working like beavers to assure that all the nut trees got off to absolutely the best start. In addition to having some of the hardiest nut trees in the Niagara Nut Grove it was entirely apparent that we have some very hardy nut growers in the SONG ranks! What an awe inspiring sight for the committee planners of the Niagara Nut Grove as they viewed through misty eyes the enthusiastic pace of activity.
The SONG members planted 165 trees in somewhat less than two hours. The species represented are: Persian Walnut, Black Walnut, Heartnut, Butternut, Shellbark Hickory, Shagbark Hickory, Pecan, Chinese Chestnut, Filbert, Hazel, Alpricot and several miscellaneous hybrids. Approximately half of the trees planted are grafted, named cultivars. What an opportunity for SONG to be able to view the performance of so many excellent cultivars and selections on one planting site!
The ceremony of unveiling the sign for the Niagara Nut Grove started at 4:00 p.m. Francis Goldring, Chairman of the N.P.C.A. formally greeted and commended the SONG members for their enthusiastic support in establishing this most unique conservation area. The Honourable William Andres, Member of Parliament for Lincoln, an accomplished horticulturist in his own right, indicated how impressed he was that a voluntary organization such as SONG could lead the way in demonstrating how nut trees may make such a useful contribution to the production of high protein food substances for an increasingly hungry world. The sign was unveiled and boldly revealed the following message for all to witness:
Shortly after the sign for the Niagara Nut Grove was unveiled, there was another ceremony. The crowd gathered on the opposite side of the creek from the Nut Grove to witness the unveiling of the sign for the Jubilee Tulip Tree Plantation. It's essential to note that the tulip tree leaf is the official insignia for the NPCA. There is much comfort for SONG in observing that the Niagara Nut Grove is situated right beside the "Flag" planting of the Conservation Authority.
The activity of the day then switched to the banquet hall of the St. Davids Lions Club where a tastefully served chicken dinner unfolded for the enjoyment of the hard working planters. Some of Niagara's best liquid spirits were on hand in good supply to please the palates of every nut grower. The jovial sounds of friendly conversation echoed through the hall for several hours. The evening was capped with several short talks by the Chairman of the Day, Harold Clement; SONG President, Ernest Grimo; SONG Editor, Douglas Campbell; the Chairman of the N.P.C.A., Francis Goldring. Several of the comments of Mr. Goldring are worthy of careful notice. He emphasized that the Conservation Areas are to serve the needs and aspirations of the people of Ontario. The members of SONG are encouraged in every genuine way to make the very fullest use of the Niagara Nut Grove to promote the interests of conservation through the growing of better nut trees.
SONG is joined in the company of a most determined and dedicated ally, The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. Now it is incumbent upon SONG to render the most consistent and persistent support for the Niagara Nut Grove. It is our job to assure that the little nut trees which got their start on April 16, 1977 will survive the many challenges of their juvenile existence and will push forward to that grand design of success which was envisaged by each of the enthusiastic planters on that entirely splendid Inaugural Day.
68th Annual NNGA Meeting
The Great Grand Daddy of all the organizations for nut growers is the Northern Nut Growers Association. Established in 1911 the NNGA has grown to a current membership of over 1200 including members from 16 different countries throughout both the northern and southern hemispheres of the earth.
This year the Annual Meeting is going to be held in Connecticut USA, not far from the New Haven area. Connecticut is sometimes referred to by nut growers as the "Chestnut State" and is the place where Dr. Richard A. Jaynes has done excellent work throughout the years in introducing new chestnut species and hybrids and in developing resistance to blight in the American Chestnut species. Also, there will be nut growers in attendance who will give presentations and demonstrations concerning all the major nut species which can be grown in the northern latitudes of North America. The displays of nuts and nut tree products at the NNGA meetings are in themselves sufficient reason for attending the annual events. It's the opportunity of the year to learn so much about nut growing in such a short period of time. The contacts and the friendships generated at such meetings can be extremely helpful in furthering one's objectives in growing better nut trees.
The meetings will be held from August 14-17, 1977, in the facilities of a medium sized College where dormitory sleeping facilities and cafeteria style meals will be available at very reasonable prices. The setting, the prices and the features make this NNGA event a very attractive prospect for a family vacation. Furthermore, there are some absolutely elegant horticultural attractions which the Ontario nut growers can very conveniently visit either on the way to or the way back from Connecticut such as the Longwood Gardens near West Chester, Pennsylvania; the Holden Arboretum, Mentor, Ohio; the Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.
The Northern Nut Growers Association publishs an up-to-date Annual Report which has encyclopedic value for beginning nut growers. There are also 4 newsletters (THE NUTSHELL) each year as well as the opportunity to attend the Big Annual Event. More details can be obtained from The Northern Nut Growers Association, 4518 Holston Hills Road, Knoxville, Tennessee USA 37914
George Hebden Corsan ... Part II
Two important dates in the long life of George Hebden Corsan remain shrouded in mystery - the date of his birth and the date of his death. Corsan himself said he didn't know when he was born but "aunts and uncles told me I was born June 11, 1857" near Rockport, N.Y.
In spite of considerable searching, I have been unable to establish the date of his death. Perusal of the Northern Nut Growers' Association annual reports (which usually contained lengthy obituaries of its prominent members, and he certainly qualified as that over a period of 40 years) reveals only that he died sometime between August, 1951, and August, 1952.
Corsan's father was a banker and his maternal grandfather was Canon Hebden of the Anglican Church in Hamilton. The family moved to Hamilton in his boyhood, near the Canon's home which had fine gardens and trees. The father was apparently a bit of a tyrant and George ran away from home when he was 14. He worked as a farm hand all over Ontario during his teens and early 20s. This experience, coupled with literature on health cults which were becoming fashionable in the 1870s, turned him toward vegetarianism. He decided to become a doctor¨¨not in the accepted version of that profession but at the St. Louis Hygienic College of Physicians and Surgeons to which was attached the Dodds Private Hospital. Both institutions expounded and practiced some of the advanced theories of the time.
George was a fourth year student when, on an outing near St. Louis, he was bitten on the wrist by a copperhead snake. Such a bite is usually fatal. He was ill for months, pronounced dead at one point, but recovered. When he left the hospital he was thin and frail, unable to pursue his studies any further. He returned to Toronto and became a fruit peddler.
In the 1890s he became a familiar figure on Yonge St., hawking fruit, his stentorian voice coming from a gaunt frame. With his fruit he gave away slogans of health with every breath, exalting fruit and raw vegetables as the elixir of life.
He had always been a good swimmer and he took up swimming again as another step toward the recovery of his health. He mastered the Australian crawl, which was just dawning on the swimming world.
By 1899 he was not only a city character as a peddler of fruit, but an athlete of almost legendary quality. In that year there was a grand swimming regatta at the Toronto swimming club at Hanlon's Point, with invited champions from the United States and Scandinavia to be the stars. Friends at the Y encouraged Corsan to enter and he won all eight events. "The crowd was so disgusted that a local peddler had carried off the whole meet," related Corsan, "that they broke off and went home. The crowd just went home in disgust."
It was the turning point in Corsan's career. His feat hit the headlines and resulted in a letter from Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, head of the famed sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, offering him a handsome salary to teach swimming at the sanitarium's four big pools. He accepted and his career was assured.
He taught swimming at the University of Toronto from 1903 to 1922. He roved all over the continent, teaching swimming, preaching health and vegetarianism, shocking people and industries like the dairies and packing houses almost speechless with his diatribes.
In 1927 W. K. Kellogg, the corn flakes king, brother of Dr. H. Kellogg, asked Corsan to build him a bird sanctuary. In two years Corsan spent $2,250,000 of Kellogg's money on an 850-acre sanctuary the like of which has never been seen on this continent, according to the late Gregory Clark.
Sir William Mulock, Postmaster-general of Canada (1886-1905) and later Chief Justice of Ontario, hired Corsan to graft the black walnut trees at his Orillia estate with Carpathian scions.
Corsan was associated with Ernest Thompson Seton in the Boy Scouts in 1910. He taught professional life saving and set up the Chicago Life Guards (1912) and the St. Louis Life Guards (1913). He was swimming Instructor-in-chief during the First World War for the whole Pacific coast.
Corsan joined the Northern Nut Growers Association in 1912. His address was given as the University of Toronto gymnasium and he said he had been "planting nuts for years." In 1915 he told the NNGA meeting that "I have four types of soil to grow my trees in¨stiff clay, rich gravel, quicksand and humus, light sand and silt or bottom land, well-drained. I have no sour, undrained spot on my 15 acres." This would appear to be Echo Valley (later described as 20 acres) but he did not use that address until 1925.
In 1926 he reported: "My land is in a valley and the spring floods come down and I can't plow the land or it would all be washed away. I had an awful fight with mice. I found they would chew down the trees almost as fast as I could get them in, so I got some cats. The cats soon learned to prefer birds to mice so I killed the cats. Then I bought a flock of geese. They cropped the grass_ short and prevented it from growing so powerfully as to smother out the trees. But the geese had hard bills and when the trees were small they clipped off pieces of bark with their bills, so I traded the geese for wild geese. I learned that they are more discriminating in their choice of food and though their wings are more powerful, their bills are not as strong. They have kept the grass down for me and destroyed the homes of the mice. Then I got pheasants in order to rid myself of the insect pests. I feel that in another 10 or 20 years we will have a very beautiful place."
In 1928 when the NNGA held their-convention in Toronto (the first time outside of the United States) they visited the Echo Valley plantation where they noted Thomas and Ohio black walnuts; Siers, Fairbanks and Laney hickories; pecans; Chinese walnuts (rare); hybrid chestnuts; seedling heartnuts from Virginia sources; filberts and Turkish tree hazel (rare).
Corsan's wife was listed as a member of the NNGA 1922-25 and in the 1940s his son, H. H. Corsan of Hillsdale, Michigan, was a member. He married again (possibly the third time) in Florida in 1950 when he was 93.
From 1930-35 he was not listed as a member of the NNGA and he later referred to a six year's absence from Toronto, but didn't explain further.
In 1940 he bought five acres of very rich soil near Kendall, Florida, which is 10 miles south of
Miami. He wintered there from November 30 - March 30, returning to the north when the buds
started to swell on his nut trees.
(To be concluded)
Kathryn Lamb Kitchener, Ontario
Horace Troup Reminisces About George H. Corsan
Mr. Nielson, a research specialist at the Vineland Experimental Station, started planting and grafting nut trees on the station property in the 1920s. I got to know Mr. Nielson well and while I was budding trees as early as 10 years, I watched him bud walnuts and asked many questions, but never did learn to successfully graft nut trees till he left the station to go to Michigan.
Several years passed, then one day we found Mr. Corsan at the Toronto Winter Fair where he was exhibiting nuts and selling nuts for seed, some for as much as $1 each, others for two or three for $1.
During the interval between Mr. Nielson leaving and Mr. Corsan coming to Islington, Dad and my Uncle Alex bought many grafted trees from Pennsylvania where several nurserymen were growing and grafting more trees than they could sell.
Mr. Corsan, the nut man as he asked to be called, came to my father's farm in early October, 1934. He brought with him his son, the aviator, as he introduced him, who had flown in World War One. The son was married to Ruth Towers, the marathon swimmer, whom George had trained. They collected most of our crop of grafted black walnuts for seed. They picked them as they were not dropping yet: varieties were Teneyck, Thomas, Stabler and Ohio. On this occasion Mr. Corsan told us some of the basics of nut growing and grafting which he had learned while working in some capacity on the Kellogg farm where Mr. Nielson was also employed. -He was continuously interrupted by his son the aviator telling funny stories which annoyed the nut man.
Mr. Corsan ended his lecture on nut tree grafting by telling us to send to the United States Dept. of Agriculture for Farmers' Bulletin #1501. This started nut tree grafting in Ontario. Mr. Nielson could have told us the same 10 years earlier, but then we would have known as much as he.
Mr. Corsan talked much about health and nutrition. He claimed a slice of watermelon, a bunch of grapes and a handful of nuts made an excellent meal. He spoke at many women's meetings, mostly on health and nutrition and always stressed the importance of nuts to pregnant women.
He visited most farms where superior nuts were grown and always collected seed nuts to sell. Mr. Corsan bought many grafted trees from my Uncle Alex Troup who was the most advanced nut grower in eastern Canada at that time. On one occasion he drove over from Islington, bought a grafted tree for $1.50, the price at that time. He planted this tree for a customer in Vineland for $13.00. At that time this was excessive, bordering on dishonest.
He told us stories about his keeping fit and claimed at his residence in Florida where he spent the winters, he amazed people by climbing cocoanut palms.
He told of working for a movie company in Hollywood where he was building a jungle river dug by hand a few inches deep. Water was flowed through while shooting the scenes. He claimed he worked for several days eating only watermelon. I often wondered if some of the scenes of Tarzan, Johnny Weismuller, the swimmer, who would swing through the trees with Jane, were not really George, the nut man.
On another occasion Mr. Corsan visited the Kratz farm where Mr. Kratz had several hybrid trees, butternut and Japanese walnut. Mr. Kratz' daughter was cleaning the basement and went out to speak to the old gentleman. To her surprise, Mr. Corsan took her into his arms and kissed her. After which he said, "You'd never know I'm 81."
At his place, Echo Valley, mice were bothering his trees as they will when grown in sod. Mr. Corsan bought old kettles, knocked holes in the bottom and placed them over his small trees. A screen mouse guard would have done the job. We often wondered how he took them off.
In the article on Corsan in SONG News, it mentions seedling filberts bearing in two years and profitable in four. This is an example of the false claims made by nurserymen in the States at that time and Mr. Corsan was no exception.
Mr. Corsan tried to encourage the Indians of the Six Nations Reservation to grow superior nuts. He held demonstrations which were well attended. He received much publicity in the Toronto Globe. However, I don't believe anything came of his efforts.
Mr. Corsan, despite his many ways, was a wonderful old man who wanted us to know all that he
Horace Troup, St. Catharines, Ontario
Cultivar Demonstration at The Virgil Nut Plantation
Each of us has an appreciation for the fruit and nut trees which we grow or watch. The better our selections, the more we praise them. Many of today's nut and minor fruit cultivars were growing unnoticed in the wild until they became someone's favorite which he chose to share. At this time of conservation and renewal of resources SONG has been asked by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority to supply its favorite named cultivars, seedling selections and planting recommendations for a planting at the Virgil Conservation Area. Also, varieties and species are to be demonstrated in a minimum care planting. So far, more than fifty cultivars have been recommended either from first hand knowledge or from the praises of other growers. Additional contributions are desired and space will be available at planting time.
The Virgil Plantation will demonstrate specially endowed cultivars which can be used to judge other selections. Standard cultivars will be fruited alongside promising local selections. The comparisons at Virgil will bring out information on selections which are now the favorites of only a few growers.
A planting list is being made up. It contains many cultivars and selections. Much can be said about each cultivar. Since I question how valuable a description of each cultivar is before its trial, only a few of the more prominent will be noted here.
Two early ripening Oriental Chestnuts are Meader NH4 and Douglass Manchurian. Each is blight resistant, hardy and productive. Meader NH4 is a large nut of high quality after curing, while Douglass Manchurian is semi-large and sweet at drop time. Each has yielded seedlings which retain their parent's good traits. Layeroka is an Oriental Chestnut with a very large nut. Layeroka is very productive at Vineland. Kelley is an American Chestnut displaying exceptional resistance to chestnut blight.
The Gellatly Filhazel selections, Manoka Myoka and 521, were chosen because of their hardiness and earliness to mature quality nuts with good production.
The Black Walnuts, Thomas, Ohio, Elmer Myers and Weschcke, all have had numerous good seedlings which bear nuts resembling their prize winning parents. Thomas has high production of quality nuts, but suffers from anthracnose, ambers and alternate bearing. Elmer Myers may not fill in a short season. Weschcke is very hardy.
Persian Walnut is well represented by the locally grown seedlings, Bell Bro's, Papple and Clark Jumbo. The Clark Jumbo from Woodstock, Ontario, is hardy and productive. The nut is very large and of delightful quality which must be tasted to be appreciated. Papple is a good nut and an excellent late pollinator. Hansen and Broadview are the most consistent producers near the Great Lakes. Young M2 is a large quality nut, Manregian strain, from the mountains of North China. The Manregian. strain produces the fastest growing of the Persian seedlings, producing two bushel crops per tree in about fifteen years.
Garretson and Killen native persimmons are hardy and fruitful. The heavy crops have to be picked before the first hard freeze and the fruit usually requires ripening indoors in paper bags containing a few apples. Ethylene gas from the apples is the ripening agent. Floyd Peiffer has sent Oriental Persimmon of the Sheng cultivar up to Paris, Ontario. He reports that several trees grew and fruited in town. Local information is not yet confirmed because the grower's name cannot be remembered.
Korean Pine has been tested at Orono, Ontario, and has proven hardy and productive. Mexican Border Pine is another fast growing nut pine which is proving hardy in Niagara.
Much leg work has been done in selecting nut and minor fruit cultivars. Thomas Black Walnut and Early Golden Persimmon date back to the late eighteen hundreds. Most of the named cultivars to be demonstrated at Virgil have been undergoing tests since the nineteen thirties. It is with much assurance that the named varieties are hardy, productive and of high quality. The planting site is excellent. Project funding is generous. Good cultural practices are specified and will be demonstrated. Some fruiting from grafted filbert, chestnut, persian walnut and persimmon should begin in three years. Black walnut, heartnut and butternut generally take five years to fruit, while hickory and hican take ten years.
As the years pass, nuts, fruit and information will be offered up in increasing quantities.
Measurable quantities of growth rate, hardiness, flushing, blooming period, pollination, nutlet
formation, aborting, ripening date, filling, production, quality, disease, pests, etc.will be
displayed. Not all this information will be recorded. Production is of the most interest. One of
our first projects in future years will be to produce a maturity date calendar so that those
interested may anticipate the ripening season before furry creatures and other samplers begin the
John Gordon Clarence, New York
Nut And Wild Fruit Inventory
The following directory of individuals who are growing certain species of nuts and wild fruit has been compiled by H. Cedric Larsson. The inventory is published herein so that SONG members may be able to share information and materials concerning their favourite species of trees and bushes.
1. Mr. Horace Troup, R.R.#3, St. Catharines ON L2R 6P9
2. Mr. A. Herrfort, R.R.#2, Milverton ON
3. Mr. G. R. Hambleton, R.R.#2, Conc. 6, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON LOS 1JO
4. Mr. D. Kernohan, R.R.#6, London ON
5. Mr. J. H. Gordon Jr., 6969 Salt Road, Clarence, New York, U.S.A. 14031
6. Mr. J. Duguid, 1070 Sixth Line, Oakville, Ontario.
7. Mr. E. Grimo, R.R.#3, Lakeshore Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON LOS 1JO
8. Mr. D. Campbell, R.R.#1, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON LOS 1JO
9. Mr. E. V. Liss, R.R.#1, Joyceville ON
10. Mr. J. C. Langford, R.R.#3, London ON N6A 4B7
11. Mr. C. Rhora, Wainfleet, Ontario.
12. Miss Valerie Scott, R.R.#4, Prescott ON KOE 1JO
13. Mr. John Steckle, R. R5f"f2rKitchener, Ontario.
14. Mr. H. C. Larsson, 90 Munro Blvd., Willowdale, Ontario. M2P 1C4
15. Mr. R. Fleming, Horticulturist, Vineland Horticultural Station, Vineland, Ontario.
16. Mr. C. Burns, Dresden, Ontario.
17. Gellatly Nut Nurseries, Westbank, British Columbia.
18. Mr. 0. H. Gibson, Scotland, Ontario. 446-2925
LOCATION BY NUT SPECIES
Black Walnut - Juglans nigra L. 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18
Carpathian Walnut - Juglans regia L. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15
Butternut - Juglans cinerea L. 1, 3, 14
Heartnuts - Juglans sieboldiana var cordiformis 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 14
Shagbark Hickory - Carya ovata (Mill) K. Koch 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 10, 11
Shellbark Hickory - Carya laciniosa (Michx.f) 8
Pecan - Carya illinoensis (Wang) K. Koch 3, 8, 15
Chinese chestnuts - Castanea mollissima Bl Chinese hybrids - Castanea hybrida 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 11, 14, 15
European filbert - Corylus avelana L. European filbert hybrids - Corylus hybrida 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 14, 17
Persimmon - Diospyros virginiana L. 1, 2, 3, 8
Red mulberry - Morus rubra 3, 14
Saskatoon - Amelanchier alnifolia 1, 12, 14
Elderberry - Sambucus canadensis 4, 10, 12, 13, 14
Highbush cranberry - Viburnum 4
Compiled by: H. Cedric Larsson, Regional Research Forester, Ministry of Natural Resources, Division of Forests, Maple ON LOJ 1EO
Nut Tree Hardiness
A hardiness zone map with a table of hardiness ratings provides a good guide as to where plants of interest will grow. These tools must be used with care, however, since the microclimate of the actual growing site may vary from that shown on the map. A number of gardening books discuss various factors that influence, the microclimate so that a reasonable assessment of the site is possible; and even limited modification of the microclimate is feasible over a small area, for someone addicted to their gardens.
The data in this table, for the purpose of SONG members, is quite sketchy. To improve the information, I would like to see member's observations which will, over a number of years, establish hardiness ratings for reliable nut production for the cultivars that are being grown.
|Table of Hardiness Ratings(1)|
|Scientific Name||Common Name||Rating|
|Carya illinoensis||Pecan||5b (fruit 7b)(2)|
|Carya ovata||Shagbark Hickory||4b|
|Castanea dentata||American or Sweet Chestnut||5|
|Castanea mollissima||Chinese Chestnut||6|
|Corylus americana||American Hazel||2b|
|Corylus avellana||European Hazel||5|
|Corylus colurna||Turkish Filbert||5|
|Corylus cornuta||Beaked Hazel||2b|
|Juglans cinerea||Butternut 3|
|Juglans nigra||Black Walnut||3b(3)|
|Juglans nigra "Laciniata"||Cutleaf Walnut||5(4)|
|Juglans regia||Persian, English or Carpathian Walnut||4|
(1) The U.S. system of hardiness zone numbering is different than the Canadian.
(2) These ratings usually apply to the plants ability to survive. The coldest zones the plant will grow in may not permit reliable nut production.
(3) For wood production the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources recommends Zone 6 as a limit. In colder regions unprotected young trees suffer considerable damage.
(4) Note that various cultivars of a species have different degrees of hardiness.
(Data for this table is taken from the two Agriculture Canada publications: (a) "A Checklist of Ornamental Trees for Canada", publication no. 1343; (b) "Ornamental Shrubs for Canada", publication no. 1286)
The Late Winter Bloos
Did the snowbanks pile up on your favourite bushes and break them down? Did the hungry mice come along and chew the bark right off your trees? Did the ravenous rabbits hop forth and chomp off those plump terminal buds which otherwise would have made a tremendous flush of spring growth? Did the cold, harsh, winter winds of December cause the twigs of some of your exotic, tender trees to die back? Did the frosts following a premature, false-start spring pinch back the terminal buds of your trees which survived the other hazards? ... And have all these problems got you down? ... Well probably not, if you are a SONG nut grower ... well at least not permanently down.
Last winter was one of the toughest which we have seen in years ... one of those real, old-fashioned winters. In some ways there was a fascination just in living through this last winter just to prove that this current generation is as tough as any which has gone before. It was the same story too, all throughout the north-eastern part of the continent. If misery likes company, there was plenty of company. Even the so-called favoured areas such as the Niagara Peninsula and the south-eastern parts of Pennsylvania had their troubles ... but are any of the nut growers giving up? Not on your life. Experienced growers know from previous observations that trees, bushes and plants have an almost miraculous power of recovering from winter's setbacks. Furthermore, if the people who till the soil gave up after a winter such as that of '76-77, there would be a lot more hungry faces showing up for supper around the world'.
One of the greatest frustrations which a grower has is that of facing all those tell-tale scars which have been left on the trees by winter's hardships. However, a little bit of new, green growth goes a long way in covering up the scars from sight. A few seasons of growth will even cover up the scars on main trunk areas ... depending on what care the grower provides. Now here comes the crunch where the enthusiastic nut grower should take careful note because there are a number of things which can be done to get improved returns from one's tree growing efforts:
(a) Mice damage (girdling of the bark of trees usually at or near the root crown) can be eliminated if you take measures to eliminate the mice before winter sets in on a steady basis. Working the ground around trees will eliminate the hiding places for the mice. However, the ground should not be worked up too late in the growing season (after July 15) or the trees will be stimulated to produce excessive tender growth late in the season and this type of growth is very susceptable to winter injury. Mice can be baited with commercially available materials. Trees can be protected with plastic tree guards or rodent repellant paints. Remember to be entirely generous when using rodent repellant paints; this is one activity where the virtue of thrift is completely out of place. If tree guards are used they should be installed so that they extend 2-3 inches below the soil surface and also up above the maximum level of snow.
(b) Rabbit damage can take the form of girdling of tree trunks or nipping off the more tender one and two year old shoot growth. If local rabbit populations are high, there is no way that you can completely eliminate damage arising from this source. However damage is significantly reduced if tree guards or rodent repellant paint are used. Its important to remember that rabbits often can reach up 3 to 4 feet or more from the ground level if snowfall and/or drifting is heavy. In fact one grower last winter had an experience where rabbits were eating the top branches off a tree at a height of 12 feet off the ground!
(c) Winter injury owing to insufficient cold hardiness is one of the most difficult items with which to cope. Hardy varieties should be grown. Tree trunks of tender varieties can be wrapped with insulating materials and/or aluminum foil. Even tree guards give some protection against winter sun scald. Trees become relatively more hardy as they get older so that if you can get them to pull through their juvenile years they will do better as the years advance. The natural hardiness of trees can be enhanced by cultural practices. Use a balanced fertilyzer and don't fertilyze too late in the season ... not past the 15th of July. Don't work the soil after the middle of July. Close mowing is a good substitute for late working in order to eliminate rodent habitats. Don't prune trees after the end of June at the latest. Earlier pruning is preferred. The hardiness of trees in the first year after transplanting often relates right back to the technique of transplanting. If a tree is separated from most of its roots in the transplanting process, the first season growth often will be frail and very susceptable to winter damage. Paint all injury and pruning wounds with a good grade of tree dressing, Bracco etc. The tree dressing will keep the open wood from drying out and will reduce the entry of disease into the open tissue. Both of these benefits will tend to produce a healthier tree which will be more winter hardy.
(d) Many trees were injured last winter because of snow damage. Snow may be light and fluffy when it falls but when it packs down and when a crust forms after several partial thaws,the snow can become almost as heavy as pure ice. When a very thick crust of snow is subsiding during a melting period the impact on young trees and particularly bushes can be absolutely devastating. Tree stems even up to 2 inches in diameter can be completely splintered. This problem can be avoided somewhat by planting trees in areas which generally escape the very heavy accummulation of snow drifts. Snow fences can be erected up wind from a planting to capture the snow at a safe distance away from the trees. It is interesting to note that a moderate covering of snow is very desirable to prevent excessive penetration of frost into the depths of the soil. However, the balance of benefits begins to shift rather noticeably as the depth of the snow begins to exceed much more than about one-third of the height of the trees which are standing in the snow.
(e) Strong dry winds with below freezing temperatures can be just as devastating to the winter survival of trees as extreme cold temperatures. December of 1976 was unusual for the long periods of time when the temperatures hung around the -15C (5°F) level and the winds howled away at viciously high velocities. In fact there was a period of nearly two months where the temperature did not get above the freezing point. This long period of dry cold dryed out severely the buds and wood of many trees. Those who have observed the white pines around the country will have ample evidence of the extreme drying conditions experienced in the winter of 1976-77. Most of this damage was done in December ... the time that most people consider just the beginning of winterl Many trees will have a hard time coming back from the extreme "wind burn" which they have received. Let's hope that the growing season in the summer of 1977 is fairly favourable so that these trees can recuperate a bit and get ready for next winter.
There is nothing like an excellent windbreak to fend off the effects of drying winter winds. There is no windbreak quite like a three or four row, close-planted, spruce hedge to stop the wind absolutely dead in its tracks. In the lee of such a hedge growers will find that some rather tender types of trees will grow like magic. People who wish to grow some of the more exotic nut or fruit trees in exposed locations will find that there is no better investment than the establishment of an excellent "living windbreak" such as several rows of evergreen trees. You'll find that a good windbreak around your residence area is a good investment too when you experience how much difference it can make to your heating bills.
(f) Don't let trees overbear! One of the easiest ways to winter-kill a tree is to let it produce more nuts or fruit than it can handle. When the tree goes into the winter period it will be exhausted and very susceptable to winter damage. If too heavy a crop sets,thin out the excessive amounts of fruit and you'll not only have a higher quality of crop but you will have a healthier, stronger tree which will come back to produce more crops year after year.
Last winter was a bit of a learning experience for many growers although an expensive one. It is possible to take actions which will prevent most of the types of winter damage which we have seen. Also, it's useful to appreciate that the chances of the winter of 1977 - 78 being as severe as the last one, are only about 1 chance in 50!
Letters to the Editor
Editor's note: A nut grower's "first harvest" be it ever so small, is a dramatic experience of extraordinary magnitude.. The thrill of the occasion is somewhat accentuated by the fact that it may be several years between the planting of a new tree and the first production. The following letter is a representative example of this form of experience.
I harvested one Persian Walnut this fall ... my first. I have it enshrined in a silver dish which is shaped in the form of a large Persian Walnut. The dish was a gift from my sister. She thought that the dish would save me the expense of having the nut bronzed! I'm not sure though; I'm afraid that someone will be tempted to eat the nut in its present edible state. I pollinated the nutlet at the spring blossom time with pollen from one of Sherman Totten's trees. Gary Fernald, Monmouth IL
An Open Letter Addressed to Mr. Henrik Hoyer, Essex Regional Conservation Authority, Essex ON
The county of Essex is in the heart of the shagbark and shellbark hickory range of Ontario. For
this reason, there is very good possibility that superior nut bearing selections occur there which if
discovered and reported would be a most valuable addition to the few selections we now have. I
would strongly recommend that field trips be encouraged each autumn by conservation, naturalist
and horticultural organizations to try and locate these valuable trees. To identify
such superior trees, the would-be nut-hunter should seek out both species when the nuts are ripe
and falling to the ground. Regardless of the size of the nuts, a few of these from each tree should
be given a crackability test in the field. This simply consists of breaking the nut with a hammer
against a. flat stone to determine if the meat can be easily extracted in halves and quarters. For
instance the ideal hickory nut is a thin, soft shelled nut with soft compartmental walls which do
not prevent the procuring of a high percentage of halves (50%+) and quarters. After cracking, he
or she should taste it and if the flavour is good then it is imperative that this superior tree be
marked with paint and a record put in a note book of the nearest road, pond or other land mark.
This double precaution should be taken so that the tree can be easily re-located again. If such a
find is made, it would be wise to report it to the Essex Regional Conservation Authority who
could check it out and they in turn could report it to:
Mr. R. D. Campbell R.R.#1 Niagara-on-the-Lake ON Telephone: 416-262-4927
Mr. Campbell is making a collection of nut producing hickories in Ontario and is one of the
founding fathers of the Society of Ontario Nut Growers (SONG).
I would also like to stress that the soil and climate of Essex County are ideal for growing not only
hickories but also Carpathian walnuts, sweet chestnut and filberts.
H. C. Larsson
This is to inform that several of the trees which were planted at the Niagara Nut Grove on April
16, 1977, were treated to a special application of AGRIFORM, "slow release" fertilyzer pellets.
A location map was made to identify which trees were treated in this manner. These trees will be
observed in the future seasons to see how their performance compares with the trees fertilyzed in
other ways. I will report back to SONG with my results and if the experience is favourable, other
SONG members may wish to use this fertilizing material.
S. Landell, 914 Yonge. St. Apt. 1611, Toronto ON M4W 3CS
Hazelnut (Filbert) Cake
Austrian Recipe - Mrs. Eric Steier, Toronto
4 eggs (separated)
1/2 cup (180g) fine sugar
1 pk (Oetker) Vanillin sugar (10g)
6 oz Filbert nuts (180g) - grated
1 heaping tablespoon flour (20g)
1 heaping tablespoon bread crumbs (20g)
1 level teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon rum for flavour (optional)
Separate eggs/ blend sugar and egg yolks until smooth/ beat egg whites until stiff/ fold ground filberts, egg whites and all other ingredients together/ line a round greased - spring - cake pan with wax paper, grease again, pour batter into pan and bake at 375°F for approximately 40 min. (test with toothpick - has to come out clean) Cool on rack.
Just before serving (not more than 2 hrs. ahead) cut cake in half/ spread thin layer of sour marmelade (red currants etc.) on bottom half, whip cream - (one half pint) - sweeten to taste, spread on half whipped cream, put top layer of cake on top, spread again with marmelade and top with whipped cream (also smooth on sides of cake). Garnish with nuts. Ground walnuts can replace filberts in this cake.
Heartnut Distribution Program
Once again there has been such a popular demand to participate in the Heartnut Growing Program that SONG has exhausted its supply of nuts. Further distribution of nuts will be discontinued as of the end of May, 1977.
Provided by SONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.