Walnut Council Bulletin

Walnut Council Representative Reports

Industry Report
By Dan Harris, Industry Representative

The European market has become interested in a product called "satin" walnut, which is really sweetgum. They are using both the sapwood and heartwood for kitchens, doors, and flooring.

The dollar is now stronger against the weaker Euro, especially in Greece, Portugal, and Italy which have weak economies. The round log export demand is currently fueling the walnut market with unheard of prices. For example, a western Ohio family farm recently sold 35 trees for $109,000. These trees were exceptional - one was 22" diameter inside bark at 24" above ground. It also had 16-18 rings per inch, exhibiting very slow growth.

There are a number of mill closings and loggers going out of business. Banks are not looking favorably on the industry and are limiting credit. Eleven veneer knives just closed in Hamburg, Germany and a West Virginia mill closed.

The forest certification outlook is bright. My company is now certified in FSC controlled wood. Although we don't expect to see more income, it is opening up business and customers that we could not supply before becoming certified. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified white oak and walnut are the hottest products right now.

In Wisconsin, Forest Geneticist and Nursery Coordinator Avery Dorland reports the joint Wisconsin DNR and University of Wisconsin-Madison tree improvement program is continuing to develop a 10-acre grafted black walnut seed orchard on the Kickapoo River Wildlife Area near Bell Center in Crawford County, WI. The orchard is composed of grafted clones of phenotypically superior black walnut selections identified from natural stands in Wisconsin and Northern Illinois.

During 2009, an additional 54 grafts generated from 13 superior quality trees were added to the seed orchard bring the current number of clones to 154 on the site. The 7.5' poly fence erected around the orchard has begun to show wear and required mending a number of times during the year. Unfortunately, deer were able to gain entry into the planting which resulted in both tip damage through browse and mortality via buck rubbing to a handful of grafts. Grafted clones will continue to be added to the site during the next few years as new selections are made and grafts become available. The orchard serves to both conserve the limited genetic resource of black walnut adapted to Wisconsin and to provide future sources of improved seed for the state nursery program.

HTIRC Report
By Charles Michler, HTIRC Representative

The following is some of the ongoing work of the Hardwood Tree Improvement & Regeneration Center:

  • Lenny Farlee, extension forester, is working on a study comparing types of pruning (e.g. target, flush cut) and timing of pruning.
  • In March HTIRC co-hosted an Ash Symposium, highlighting the importance and benefits of ash in North America. It was attended by approximated 90 from across North America.
  • In spring of 2010 the HTIRC will be planting 10,000 trees in six locations across the Midwest. These outplantings will be used to further our hardwood tree improvement work.
  • recently traveled to Hawaii to tour their heavily degraded tropical hardwood tree resource. The Forest Service is discussing with Hawaii to see if they could assist in restoring that resource.
  • Lenny Farlee and Bill Hoover recently coordinated a training program on forest management and forestry practices for NRCS employees in Indiana. They are forwarding that program to Missouri and Illinois.