black walnuts

Asked April 20, 2016, 1:55 PM EDT

to grow a black walnut tree from a seed does the husk have to be removed? I have some with the husk dried on them

Sanborn County South Dakota trees and shrubs black walnut tree walnut trees

1 Response

Yes, here is additional information for you from a horticultural educator.

Black walnuts are relatively easy to start from the nut. Just keep in mind that some of them do not grow, no matter how they were handled, so always plant more than you want. It works best to start them outside in the ground where they will eventually grow. The location should get at least eight hours of sun a day. If it is under six hours, chances of the tree doing well are extremely small. Walnuts produce long tap roots and that's why you don't want them in pots or you do not want to dig them up and damage the tap root. Select your Final Destination for the future-trees. Use nuts that have just fallen off the tree. The more time they remain on the ground, the less will germinate. They could get crushed or begin to decay in certain circumstances. Remove the husk from the nut. Try to do it so you don't damage the nut inside. Some husks will be greenish but some may be black and the inside portion soft, if there are husk flies that have damaged the husk. They do not hurt the nuts. Use gloves unless you want brown fingers for weeks. This is a powerful dye. Same with clothes...don't wear anything that you will be upset if it gets stained. Dig a hole only about two or three inches deep. The nut needs to be just below grade by a small amount. Make it wider than just the nut width. Place the nut in the hole and cover with the soil and firm it. The nuts need 90 to 120 days of cold stratification to germinate. That means that the cold, damp soil and the freezing and thawing get the nuts ready to germinate in the spring. Add a bit of mulch or straw over the top. If squirrels are patrolling the area (and where doesn't this happen?), you might want to put a piece of chicken wire or hardware screening over the buried nuts to prevent them becoming Squirrel Chow. Weight or stake the screen so it does not move. Small, hungry rodents will harvest as many as they can find . Squirrels account for most of the wild black walnuts that are planted. They plant many, only remember where some are, and the others become trees. One piece of advice from a forester is that you plant a bushel and give the other bushel of nuts to the squirrels to plant. If the soil is dry, water to settle soil and give the nuts adequate moisture for the freeze-thaw process about to happen. In the spring, About April or May, before nuts send up shoots, remove the screening. Walnuts often come up later than you would June or July in some cases. Keep in mind that walnuts (all parts) produce a chemical called juglone and this chemical can kill or damage many kinds of plants when the roots contact each other. Tomatoes are on the top of that list. This is in case there is a flower or vegetable garden or trees planted nearby. Once the walnuts come up, you only have twenty years or so before your first crop. This is a very slow-growing tree. It's been said that you plant walnuts for nuts or timber for your grandkids, not you. Good luck. -Gretchen Voyle MSU Extension Horticulture Educator