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Nut trees for cold climates?

Posted by joannaqcw NY 4/5 (My Page) on
Wed, Dec 11, 13 at 15:40

I'd like to grow my own nuts, but I'm on the edge between zones 4 and 5 and I'm seeing conflicting reports about what nut trees will thrive in this zone. I'd welcome any advice/reports of your experiences.

I've had some success with shrubby hybrid hazelnuts (lots of nuts, but very small). I'm not fond of black walnuts, though I'd be glad to have other types of walnuts if they'd grow here.
Butternuts and shagbark hickory look promising in terms of hardiness, but both have warnings about disease; do you know if disease problems are widespread in the Northeast?


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RE: Nut trees for cold climates?

You're out of my comfort zone in z4-5, but there are folks who do grow them there.
John Gordon passed away sometime in the last couple of years, but his website is still up (linked below) - not all that easy to navigate, but may give you some ideas about what species and varieties were proven producers for him there in Amherst.
There's a link on the Gordon website to a digital copy of 'Nut Growing Ontario Style', which may be worth reading. Additionally, Carl Weschke's 'Growing Nuts in the North' is available in digital format from Project Gutenberg; I'll link it in a follow-up post.

St. Lawrence Nurseries, in Potsdam, offers some nut trees for northern climates - but to my knowledge, all those will be seedlings - which may translate into a fairly long wait for nuts. (Seedling pecans here have required 15+ years to begin bearing first crops; seedling BWs - maybe 8-10; have grafted hickories that have been in the ground for nearly 20 years - no nuts yet.).

Grimo Nut Tree Nursery is another reputable northern nursery specializing in nut trees.

Pure butternuts are probably approaching extant species status, but hybrids of butternut with heartnut/Japanese walnut exhibit varying degrees of resistance to the butternut canker disease.
I'm unaware of any particular disease problem that's been reported as a threat for the hickories. Scab can be a problem, but I don't know that i've ever noticed it adversely affecting nut production on anything other than pecans.

Here is a link that might be useful: John 'Nuttrees' Gordon


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Weschke's book

Read up.

There are a couple of lengthy recent discussion threads over on the Trees forum on hickories and hicans; one maxed out at 150 responses, and Part 2 is already up over 50 posts. Take some time and wade through them, as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Weschke - Growing Nuts in the North

This post was edited by lucky_p on Wed, Dec 11, 13 at 16:44


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RE: Nut trees for cold climates?

Hybrid hazlenuts from Badgersett have done the best in my climate. Their seedlings give variable nut sizes (some as large as European filberts). Shagbark hickories have also done well for me - producing nuts in about 8-10 years.

I still have seedling Black Walnuts that haven't produced any nuts after 31 years (I'm old). I do have one Butternut and a Black Walnut that were planted by others (50+ years old) that produce nuts that have very thick shells with little nutmeat.

No luck with hybrid chestnuts, buartnuts or any grafted nut trees. Some grow vigorously but experience winterkill and eventually die.


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RE: Nut trees for cold climates?

I live in upstate NY, easily zone 5, some years we have even had -20. Chestnuts do great up here. My neighbor has about four dozen 30 year old trees that regularly produce. They are hybrids with a very mixed bag of Japanese, chinese, and American genes. I'd be willing to get you some seeds or seedlings from his trees if you wanted to try it.
Also, they do not take a long time to bear from seed. I have seen trees begin flowering at just 3 years old.


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