Member Profile

Larry Krotz

Member since 1992
Black Walnut Achievement Award 2011
Woodlands – 235 acres in Eastern Iowa

Larry and Sandy Krotz

I started with trees in 1962 in a very roundabout way. I was stationed in Madison, WI and was looking for an investment property to retire to when my days of flying were over. We purchased a 235 acre farm in Washington, IA near where both Sandy and I had grown up and decided that would be a great place to build our retirement home. The one thing that was sadly lacking was trees so I started almost immediately planting trees for windbreaks (mostly conifers) and since I was a woodworker hobbyist I used a lot of black walnut which I considered to be quite expensive. The solution was to grow my own which I found out very quickly was a pipe dream.

In 1962 I knew absolutely nothing about growing trees. I had been a lifelong gardener and just assumed that growing trees was just a big garden. Wrong again. I read a bunch of books, talked to some of the wrong people, and just started trying to do my own thing. I very quickly learned that trying to grow trees by the transplant method from long distance with extended periods being away from my plantation was not working. I had transferred from Madison and in the next portion of 20 years I was all over the world and could not give these trees tender loving care.

Somewhere along the line, the light bulb went on for me and I hit upon growing my trees from seed. For the past 25-30 years I have used 3 guiding principles. Seed direct, ultra high density, and companion planting which will, I believe, help me create a healthy living forest. I no longer think in terms of growing a tree, but rather how I can create conditions that will allow the tree to flourish. Black walnut does not like to grow in a park setting.

Today, in my approaching 50 years of making close to every mistake, and some of those mistakes more than once, I feel I have a much better handle on what it takes to produce quality wood. As I wrote in an article for the bulletin some dozen years or so ago, I create the jungle effect and allow the trees pretty much to grow nature’s way. My approximately 130 acres of former agricultural land (approximately one half of my farm) are not manicured by any means.

For the most part, I attempt to allow the forest to shape the trees and use shade as a means of weed control (primarily perennial grasses). I do have to perform some invasive species work and thinning. I am not trying for volume with my woods products, but rather quality. I no longer believe that I can grow a quality product in 20-40 years, but rather 100-150 years. I am trying to duplicate what Mother Nature did to grow the fantastic trees that my ancestors discovered when they settled in the Midwest during the mid-1800’s.

I like all trees that are native including the pioneer species. The so called lowly box elder (acting as a companion) has helped me grow some pretty fantastic black walnut .My favorite tree has always been the black walnut. I am fascinated with how it grows and how well it competes with other species and how it uses these other species to thrive. I am not impressed with black walnut growing in a monoculture when it is grown for the wood product (as a nut crop it is a different story). We still have so much more to learn about this great tree.

Black Walnut Achievement Award - 2011
Black Walnut Foundation Board Member - 2001 to present
National Walnut Council President - July 2001- July 2002
Walnut Council State Chapter Secretary - 2000 to present
Walnut Council State Chapter President - 1999






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