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He Plants Walnut Trees For Future Generations
Clarence Hoesing, Hartington, Neb., says he hopes his grandchildren and great grandchildren remember him when they harvest the 5,000 walnut trees he's planted on about 20 acres of his farm. If harvested today, the trees could bring in as much as $1,500 to $5,000 each.
Hoesing started planting the trees 8 years ago. The largest trees are now about 5 in. in dia. It will be 40 to 50 years before the trees are ready to be harvested as straight veneer logs.
Walnut tree seedlings sell for about 30 cents apiece. Hoesing buys them from the Nebraska State forestry department. Forestry officials give planting advice and come out each year to monitor progress of the trees, which are planted on some of the best ground on Hoesing's farm. He's lost about a third of the original 7,500 trees planted but says that due to the lessons he's learned in 8 years of planting, recent failure rates are down in the 5% range.
"They're susceptible to disease, worms, hail, beavers, frost and just about anything else you can name. They also require yearly trimming. To be most valuable they must have a straight trunk.
My trees are branch-free up to 8 ft. but you can trim them right up to 15 or 20 ft. with the right equipment," says Hoesing. He also cultivates yearly around the trees. Because the trees are so sensitive he says he can't use weed killer around them. At 8 to 10 years the trees begin to produce nuts, which can be harvested and sold.
Hammons Products Co., Stockton, Mo., is the country's leading processor of black walnuts. The company already sells 22 million pounds of nuts annually and they're looking to increase production with new growers. According to company vice president Jim Jones, walnut trees make a good alternative to traditional crops.
"You can plant them on odd corners of land or they can be planted in rows on good crop ground with corn, soybeans, or other crops interplanted between them until the trees mature. Trees should be planted 10 ft. apart in rows spaced 40 ft. Trees begin to yield nuts after 10 years. Each mature tree yields about 685 lbs. of nuts. Upon reaching maturity straight veneer trees often sell for as high as $5,000 and an an occasional outstanding tree sells for as high as $20,000," says Jones.
Hammons Products helps farmers get started in walnuts by providing technical information. Jones recommends working with local ASCS offices, which often pay 65% of the cost of the trees, and U.S. Forest Service personnel who will help in site trees and sometimes even assist in planting.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Hammons Products Co., 217 Hammons Drive, Stockton, Mo. 65785 (ph 417 276-5181).

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1987 - Volume #11, Issue #3