From situation #106–Could/June 1994
I’ve about 50 black walnut seedlings that grew from nuts I planted final fall. I intend to transplant them this yr elsewhere on my 30-acre woodlot. Might you inform me whether or not it might be higher to set them out right here and there within the woods or to plant them evenly spaced in an open space, and if that’s the case, what spacing could be optimum? My purpose is to provide tall, straight trunks to be made into lumber. In fact, I notice that I gained’t be the one who makes use of it, however wouldn’t it have been good if somebody had planted just a few walnuts for me, say, 75 years in the past? -Alfred M Thornton, Hogansville, Ga.
Jon Arno replies: On the floor, your query would seem like a easy matter of silviculture, however it’s truly very difficult. There are professionals and cons to each approaches, which could counsel a extra cautious honing of your targets. To coax walnut bushes to develop tall and produce straight, clear trunks, they need to be crowded by competing vegetation. Nevertheless, to maximise their fee of development, the competitors ought to be eliminated in phases because the walnut bushes mature. Planting them in an current woodlot will present intense, if not overpowering competitors. Their fee of development will probably be stunted, and lots of of them will fall sufferer to rodents and different wildlife. However it is going to be potential to unfold your 50 seedlings over a higher space, and searching centuries into the longer term, this technique ought to present a better potential for self-propagation, technology after technology.
The choice strategy affords extra alternative to manage the method and higher certainty that you just or your fast descendants will notice some financial return. To maximise the speed of development whereas stimulating the bushes to provide straight trunks, they need to be planted on completely plowed land in rows 4 ft. to six ft. aside and at 4-ft. to 6-ft. intervals. It is very important maintain the planting space cultivated and freed from weeds for the primary few years to present the seedlings begin. Additionally, the applying of fertilizer and a brief, small meshed fence will assist stimulate development and maintain wildlife out. Walnut bushes develop quickly for the primary 10 to fifteen years however decelerate as soon as they start to provide nuts. Because the bushes mature to the purpose that the unique spacing is simply too confining, the stand ought to be thinned by eradicating each different tree or by selectively culling out the least promising specimens. There isn’t a finite timetable for this course of in that it relies upon upon rising circumstances and local weather. Sooner culling will end in higher nut manufacturing, however permitting the competitors to accentuate till the expansion fee is noticeably impaired will in the end yield higher-quality timber. With walnut, the need to see speedy development should be tempered by the belief that it takes this species a substantial amount of time to transform its white sapwood to wealthy, darkish brown heartwood. Given the selection, I’d favor the managed planting strategy. Even when lumber is the final word goal, the nut crop is a particular plus, and several other many years down the street, a few of the nuts can be utilized to plant just a few walnut bushes in a longtime woodlot. Likelihood is, although, the squirrels will do this for you.
-Jon Arno is a wooden technologist and advisor in Troy, Mich.
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