My ancestors had a small orchard of about
ten English walnut trees that provided all of the nuts they needed plus
many hundreds of pounds to sell into the local community to provide
A fall-time ritual until recent years was
to get one's hands stained black from picking up the nut, wash them in a
cement mixer, and dry them on
drying racks that were built for this purpose in
our farm house's basement. The nuts were then hand cracked and
sorted and sold by the pound either as fancy (halves) or pieces.
They were sold for a cheaper rate per pound in the shell.
The variety grown here is called
'Franquette' and they were grafted onto black walnut rootstock. They
mature into very large trees, are excellent shade trees and produce nuts
in clusters of two or three on the tips of the branches.
'Franquette' are the last English walnut
variety to leaf out making them less susceptible to spring frost damage.
Unfortunately, it is also late flowering which means it misses the pollen
shed by other varieties, so nut set and yields are often poor. Fair
production of well sealed, thin-shelled, high quality blond colored nuts
that are harvested in late October. This made them ready for sale
for the busy holiday baking seasons.
They were also planted in these wet parts
as they are blight resistant and are historically the principle variety
grown in Oregon and Washington.
Our trees were about 75 years old when they
started dying off. We have two smaller trees that are about 25 years
old and several un-grafted seedlings.