Black gold is a term that's been used to describe the annual black walnut harvest, and this year's crop is expected to bring a record price.
The opening day of the 2008 hulling season is Wednesday, Oct. 1, and four area hulling stations are ready to accept walnuts from those throughout the Ozarks who make a money-making tradition to gather up walnuts each fall.
Local purchasing stations include: Yarnall Enterprises at 84 S. Main St. in Cassville; Farm Pro on Highway 37 in Monett; and Stanley Walnut at the intersection of Highways 37, 112 and DD in Seligman.
According to officials with the Hammons Product Company in Stockton, black walnuts, which grow wild throughout the Ozarks, are worth a record high $13 per hundred pounds after hulling.
"We're expecting a much better harvest than last year," said Brian Hammons, company president. "Although October weather and other factors will impact the final harvest, 25 million pounds is our goal. Also, the wet spring in the Midwest has probably helped the nut quality with higher nutmeat yields than the past several years."
Each year, Missouri produces about 65 percent of the walnut harvest while Arkansas produces the second-highest volume. This year's anticipated harvest is expected to surpass last year's by 83 percent.
Hammons Products company is the nation's leader in harvesting, processing, distribution and marketing of black walnuts. The 62-year-old company operates over 260 hulling stations in 15 states. For more information on the company or directions to area walnut hulling stations, visit www.black-walnut.com.