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nafex - Re: [NAFEX] Black Walnut..was..Clonal Rootstock

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  • From: Lucky Pittman <>
  • To: North American Fruit Explorers <>
  • Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Black Walnut..was..Clonal Rootstock
  • Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 11:40:14 -0500

At 12:24 PM 4/28/2004 -0500, Charlie wrote:
Del you may be lighting a brushfire here - in the seedling vs. clonal debate - just this morning I went with a
bow saw at a black walnut seedling here borne of the Elmer Myers Black Walnut strain.

Observing the extremely straight and exceptionally vigorous growth I hesitated with the bow saw. I can see
this walnut hitting 20' by August, from the 12' it is now.

I do think we oversell clonal varieties and clonal rootstocks too much. There are distinct disadvantages to
the clonal approach....and not enough growing from seed.

I don't know what to do about the seedling walnut. Obviously it'll make a decent saw log in just 10 years vs.
the typical 20. I've never seen such vigor. And how-ever can I propagate it if it proves of value for either
timber or for nuts? Root cuttings? Is it possible to obtain Black Walnut trees from root cuttings?


Folks in the southern US have done some work with seedling strains of pecans, and recommendations have been formulated for which ones 'work' best in certain areas of the Southern pecan belt, based on seedling vigor, dormancy-breaking period, etc.

I've seen more than one reference to Elmer Myers seedlings having a reputation for vigorous, upright, timber-type growth.
Based on those reports, and yours, if I were going to be planting seednuts for a seedling BW plantation for timber-type, I'd be inclined to try to get my mitts on a bunch of Elmer Myers seednuts. Probably some of the resulting seedlings would also produce a pretty decent nut, perhaps equal to or better than their parent; certainly if the pollen parents were also good nut-producing clones, you'd expect some of those seedlings to have inherited the genes for thin shell/ease of cracking/kernel quality from one or both parents.

I've got a local BW selection that has a serpentine/corkscrew type growth pattern, similar to corkscrew willow, but perhaps not so pronounced as the willow, and certainly not as pronounced as the contorted mulberries & filberts. Sent some scionwood to Cliff England last year, and he indicated that it made the most vigorous growth of any BW he'd ever grafted; the nut is nothing to write home about, but it might have some merit in a timber-breeding program, or possibly as a rootstock strain. Guess I need to collect some seednuts from it this fall and plant them to see if the seedlings have the apparent vigor of the graft.

So far as propagating your seedling selection, grafting/budding are certainly possibilities, but Dr. David Griffith has indicated to me that there may be some problems with grafts from mature trees NOT exhibiting the rapid, upright growth the original tree exhibited in its youth; if you're grafting wood from a mature tree, it may have 'lost' all those juvenile traits, and you'd have to really work at training it not to begin branching & spreading at a low height - good for a nut orchard, but not so good if you're going for timber harvest.
I've not tried root cuttings with BW, and haven't seen anything recently on rooting hard-to-root species, like walnuts, chestnuts, etc.

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