Thursday, September 24, 2015

Checking out the local talent (Black Walnuts)

It was a glorious day to be road tripping.

Foliage health

A tree cannot make timber, firewood, nuts or fruit if it cannot hang onto its leaves.  Nor can it build up the carbohydrate reserves that are critical to maximum winter cold hardiness.  The primary issue with Black Walnuts is anthracnose.  Michigan is not particularly severe for disease pressure compared to the mid-South, but that means that our local landrace of Black Walnuts are likely to be deficient in innate resistance.

Selecting "mother trees" on the basis of leaf health is smart business.

As always, you can click on the pictures to embiggen.

A Black Walnut completely defoliated by anthracnose by September 24, 2015.  This tree is growing on Gunnell Road in Eaton County.   After a bit, you can start separating out "families" of trees based on defoliation.
A Black Walnut growing 200 yards away from the tree shown in the top photo.  Both pictures were taken within five minutes of each other.  The leaves on this tree are healthy and busy photosynthesizing.  The four neighboring trees clearly shared this characteristic.
A tree growing alongside M-50.  This tree bears heavily most years.
Leaf health is only so-so.

Sectioning nuts

It is the inside that counts. 

Emma Kay on the left.  A Gunnell Road nut on the right.  Can you see the grinning Jack-o-Lantern in the Gunnell Road nut?  Clearly, the Emma Kay nut has a much higher ratio of nut meat to shell and the Gunnell Road nut has the kernel "trapped" by the shell.  The shell is approximately 2mm thick on Emma Kay and 6mm thick on the Gunnell Road nut.  Clearly, the energy that goes into producing shell is not available to produce nut meat.  All samples cut with a hacksaw and a 24TPI blade.
This is a pretty typical nut for mid-Michigan.  It was collected on Vermontville Highway.  As you can see, the shell is much thicker than M-50 but the kernel is not trapped.
This is a variety called Emma Kay.  As you can see, the kernel has some sinusing but not enough to trap the kernel.  While the shell appears thicker than M-50, the nut is flatter and the center divider is thinner than M-50.  Emma Kay scores very well for kernel percentage.

This is a local Shagbark Hickory.  You can see all of the sinus features in the kernel.  Picking out these kernels is slow and tedious work.

Nut from M-50 compared to the Gunnell Road nut.
Of the nuts collected today, M-50 looks best.  I intend to collect more nuts from this tree and to snitch a little bit of scionwood.  I know you "pecan" guys mock my Black Walnuts.  But they serve a niche.  They are flavoring....not a major food group.  Just sayin'.

Gratuitous apple picture

Gloster 69  Fruit size: Large, 80mm; Red Delicious type. Conic shape, fully red fruit with calyx-end shoulder bumps, tarter flavor than Delicious. Extremely productive tree, ripens late in the season. Long storage life similar to Golden Delicious and Jonagold. At present, one of the few apples of the Delicious-type that finishes well under Northern European conditions.

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