Walnut harvest looking good

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

This year's walnut crop is looking good for local harvesters.

"We had a good spring and good pollination," said Andrew Thomas, associate professor at University of Missouri Southwest Research Center in Mt. Vernon.

"Then we had that lovely rain in late July and early August, which was a huge benefit. The quality of walnuts will be much better this year."

The bumper crop of nuts came as a surprise to Thomas.

"After that horriffic two-year drought, the trees bounced back," Thomas said. "These trees are native to the Ozarks and are used to this climate."

According to Hammons Black Walnut's website, local tree surveys have been good this year, following two years of extreme drought.

Hammons Black Walnuts, located in Stockton, is a three-generation family business that has become a world supplier of the humble Ozark staple.

The company does not restrict itself to just the collection of nut meats, but promotes usage of all nut parts, including the hard shells, which are ground up and utilized in a number of ways, including polishing agents, filtration devices and in cosmetics and dental products.

Hulling season starts on Tuesday, Oct. 1 and continues through mid-November.

Those who want to earn a little extra money for the upcoming holidays can gather and sell their haul at local hulling stations, which pay $13 per 100 pounds after hulling.

Walnuts are typically harvested by hand, from the ground, after falling off the trees. This is a labor-intensive method of gathering the crop.

Another method is to use a nut wizard, a long-handled tool that is run over the ground to collect a wire basket full of nuts, which are dumped into a bucket or truck bed.

Hulling stations are located at Farm Pro, on Highway 37 in Monett, and at Yarnall Enterprises, located at 84 S. Main in Cassville.

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