Propagation: Black Walnut and Burr oak propogation

Discussion in 'Fruit and Nut Trees' started by Jon45150, Sep 23, 2012.

  1. Jon45150

    Jon45150 Active Member

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    A few years ago we naivly planted a few black walnuts in the fall expecting to get some saplings. Obviously they were dug up within a few days by the squirrels. This is when I realized that squirrels don't remember where they plant things, they smell it.

    So we decided to try another tactic. We have very rocky soil that is not fun to dig AT ALL, so planting anything is a real chore. If the squirrels are going to dig them up anyway I would rather not waste our time and effort. So we gathered hundreds of walnuts and just dumped them all in one place to let the squirrels bury them and hopefully forget about a few. I have no idea if it worked or not.

    This year we came across the largest black walnuts I have ever seen while on a hike. They are the size of an orange. On the same hike we found some Burr Oak trees with acorns larger than on any other Burr oak I have ever seen (or any oak I have seen for that matter).

    I have several questions relating to this. The first is - we may have made a big mistake. Both trees were dropping nuts all over the place, but we picked some of the nuts straight off the tree (see photo). We actually did this with both the Walnut and the oak trees. We did this because the walnuts on the ground were especially nasty, and we had to carry them in our pockets. Many of the acorns on the ground were cracked and brown while the ones in the trees were in good condition.

    Questions:
    1) Will the nuts pulled from the tree not be developed enough to sprout?

    2) Can we cold stratify the nuts by placing them in the freezer, or will this damage them? We read that Black walnuts must be cold stratified but acorns need not be. I figure that these nuts must be able to withstand very cold temperatures as at one time it used to actually get cold here in the winter, so they should be able to withstand freezer temperatures of -25F.

    3) We were considering planting some of the nuts in containers outside and surrounding the containers in chicken wire. When they sprout we could transplant them. Anyone ever try this?

    4) I guess I should just cut to the chase, what is the best method of propogating these?

    thanks,
    Jon
     

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  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Best method is to plant as you did first time, but (a) to bury fairly deep, around 10 cm down, and (b) to cover the planting sites with chicken wire, which will stop squirrels from digging.

    Nuts picked from the tree might be ripe enough to be viable now, but in general, it is better to collect them as they fall. Windy days are best for collecting. With those giant-size walnuts, it might be wise to wear a hard hat for safety!
     
  3. Jon45150

    Jon45150 Active Member

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    But if we cover them with chicken wire the saplings might grow up through the chicken wire in the spring. We may not be able to be there to remove the chicken wire in time in early spring. Maybe we could make some small cuts in the chicken wire such that it could be bent backwards after the sapling emerges, but still too small for the squirrel to get through. Overall that is a very good suggestion.
     
  4. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    With regards to question #3, yes you could plant them in pots left out over the winter protected from rodents and transplant them the following fall, I've grown several kinds of nut trees this way--black walnut included--and they're thriving. Or make a small nursery bed and surround it with a chicken wire fence and dig them up when ready to plant out. Either method ought to provide you with a number of good seedlings to transplant.
     
  5. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Since squirrels will still dig up germinating acorns up to a few months old (there is still nutrition for them in the acorn even when it is 'half-used' by the seedling), it's a good idea to leave the wire in place until summer and then cut it away from the seedlings. More work it's true, but it will improve the success rate.
     
  6. Jon45150

    Jon45150 Active Member

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    We are going back this weekend and getting more nuts. Unfortunately we don't have the luxury of waiting for a windy day, we go out when we can on weekends.

    I think we may try both methods - planting some on site covered with chicken wire and planting some in pots outside protected with chicken wire. I don't think we will plant any in the ground for later transplanting - if we wait too long the root may get too deep. We tried this once with a walnut. After just 9 months the root was way too deep for us to dig it up and we could not transplant it.

    If we have enough I will use the scatter method - toss them in a pile for the squirrels to hopefully bury some.

    Thank you both for your help!
     
  7. Tree Nut

    Tree Nut Active Member

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    I've grown a few walnuts and other nut trees. The best way to propagate walnut or oak seedlings is to cold stratify the nuts in a fridge between 32-38 degrees F for 3-4 months in damp peat moss to simulate natural winter conditions. I just put them in a large covered plastic tub or bag. At that point (spring time) I remove the nuts from the fridge, and put them somewhere at room temperature. I usually let them sprout first before planting, as some seeds may fail to sprout.

    Once they start sprouting, I then transplant them into pots and let them grow for a couple of months. They need to be protected from squirrels, mice, rats, Jays, crows, etc. at this phase. I put mine in a greenhouse, but they can be protected by fine mesh chicken wire or other means. At this point they can be transplanted in their permanent position.

    They still require protection from gnawing varmints such as deer, mice, etc. I normally install a protective slip around the stem to stop mice and gnawing vermin, and wrap the tree in a protective stucco wire circle to prevent deer browsing. This effort, along with regular watering and a little fertilizer will usually see most seedlings survive to be large enough to no longer require protection.
     

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