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Growing Walnut Trees Besides walnut trees producing a delicious and very nutritious nut, they are also the source of high quality wood. On hot days, the large, arched limbs of the walnut tree provide lots of shade. How Walnut Trees Are Grown Most walnut trees in the United States grow up to a height of 50 feet and are of similar width. Persian and English black walnuts are most commonly grown in the United States, and are used for production of nuts as well as for shade. A mature walnut tree produces up to 80 pounds of nuts every year. With large, delicious nuts, the Persian walnut tree is the most common in California. Several cultivars exist, including Chandler, Ashley, Pedro, Howard, Hartley, Serr Vina, Tehama and Sunland. To avoid the walnut blight, all these cultivars leaf out late in spring. Mediterranean climates, which Persian walnuts are adapted to, have mild winters and this type requires similar conditions. Early ripening varieties of walnuts need 140 to 150 days annually with temperatures of -2 and -6 C (27 and 29 F).
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After choosing the type of walnut, it is time to plant the tree. You need to till an area of approximately 12 square feet to a depth of at least 10 inches to get rid of grass and weeds which would compete with your trees for nutrients and water. Next, you need to dig a hole which is 1 to 2 inches wider than the root ball of the walnut seedling. Place your seedling in the hole up to the same depth as its pot or bury its roots about 2 inches below the ground. Fill out the hole, tamping down to ensure that there are no air pockets surrounding the roots. Moisten the soil by watering your tree, avoiding soaking the ground. Care for Walnut Trees The extensive network of roots on a walnut tree means that the seedling does not require constant watering unless the top couple of inches of soil have dried out. There is no need for you to prune a maturing walnut tree unless it has dead or damaged branches. Every spring, remember to mulch the walnut tree. Walnut Harvesting A walnut grower must be patient. A walnut tree does not produce nuts until it is about 10 years old, with its production at a peak when it is around 30 years old. What are the signs that the walnuts are ready for harvest? In the case of Persian walnuts, the seed coat starts to turn a light tan hue. Commercial walnut producers shake the tree with a limb shaker which has a window to collect the nuts depending on how large a walnut tree is. Shaking the tree manually and collecting fallen nuts is the standard harvesting method for home growers.