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Plant Manual for Missouri Mammoth Hickory Nut

To the left, you'll find all the topics covered in this Plant Manual. Select a topic to read its information.

Plant Description

Extremely large nuts that live up to their name. This beautiful variety offers an impressive spread of energy-saving shade. Bears in 8-10 years. Matures to be 55-60' tall. Ripens in late September. Seedling. For proper pollination, plant at least two.


Pollinators to boost your harvest

Location

The best way to succeed is to plan before you plant. Let’s discuss location: Do you know where you want to plant your new nut trees? Avoid many future problems by considering all aspects of the planting spot, such as:

  • Cross-pollination
  • Sun and good soil
  • Check out the surroundings
  • Space wisely
  • Leave space for future planting

Cross-Pollination

Is a pollinator variety present? Cross-pollination by a different variety, of the same type of tree, is key to the success of many nut trees. In most cases, its absence is why trees don’t bear nuts or produce poorly. Some nut trees are self-pollinating, but will yield a larger crop if pollinated with another variety.

Sun and Good Soil

Your tree would love a sunny place with well-drained, fertile soil. But it will be quite satisfied with six to eight hours of sunlight. Good drainage is required to keep your trees “happy.” If your soil has high clay content, use our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium or add one-third peat to the soil at planting time.

Surroundings

If you’d like your tree to become a landscaping asset, choose the planting place with this in mind. Imagine it as a full-grown tree and check everything out: Wires overhead? Sidewalk underneath? Does it obstruct something you want to see? Can you keep an eye on it from the house? Will other trees be in the way, allowing for their additional growth in the meantime?
Even a year or two after planting, your tree will be very difficult to transplant. So take the time to plant it in just the right place.

Space Wisely

We are asked about recommended planting distances from patios, sewer lines, water pipes and so on. Ordinarily, patios will not be a problem because the soil beneath them will be dry and compacted. Therefore, the roots will not grow into this area as much. You might not expect sewer and water lines to be affected since they are buried so deeply. But, since sewer and water lines tend to be wet, roots will grow to them and around them if the tree is planted too close. By planting your trees far enough away from these items, you can avoid this problem.

Space for Future Plantings

Once you’ve found out firsthand about the goodness of growing nuts, you’ll want to expand your home orchard. It’s important to plan for tree spacing so that the future growth areas will be ready when you are.

Planting

Successfully establishing a young nut tree in your yard starts with your planting site and method. Once a tree is established, it needs little assistance to grow and produce; but you’ll want to make sure you give your tree the best foundation possible.

Nut trees require fertile soil for good growth, so before you plant, check your soil nutrients and pH. Contact your local County Extension Office for information about soil testing in your area, or purchase one of our digital meters for quick and accurate results. For hickories, your ideal soil pH should be 6.0-7.0.

Planting

  • Space your hickory trees 60’ to 80’ apart.
  • Dig a hole wide and deep enough to accommodate the root system.
  • Wet the roots thoroughly before planting.
  • Many nut trees have just one main root, almost like a giant skinny carrot. With most nut trees, this taproot should not be trimmed or bent when planted.
  • Spread the roots out in the hole to prevent matting. Do not bend or trim main taproot.
  • Plant at the same depth as they were grown at the nursery. Bare root trees will have a noticeable color difference between the roots and the trunk--plant at the depth of this color difference. Place a potted tree the same depth it was growing in the pot.
  • Refill hole with enhanced soil. Tamp soil firmly about roots as you add each shovel of dirt.
  • When hole is ¾ full, add two buckets of water.
  • DO NOT fertilize your hickory tree at planting time they are especially sensitive. The fine hair roots of these young trees need at least 30 days to adapt to the new surroundings before being fertilized. (If planting in the fall, wait to fertilize until spring for best results.)
  • Finish filling hole.

After Planting

  • Prune your new bare root tree by cutting off at least one-third to one-half of the top (but not below the bud/graft union). This is essential. This forces your tree to grow a strong sprout that will become the main trunk. Take our word for it: severe pruning at planting time gets your new tree off to the best possible start. Potted nut trees do not need pruning.
  • Paint trunk with a white latex paint and/or wrap trunk within 4” of top using Stark® Tree Guards to prevent rodent injury and sun scald.
  • Mulch about June 1. Keep all weeds away from trees the first few years with mulch or regular cultivation.

Pollination Notes

  • Hickory trees need another tree of the same species for pollination.

Soil Preparation

Preparing your soil before you plant will greatly improve your tree’s performance and promote healthy, vigorous growth. It is a good idea to have your soil tested to determine if it is lacking in any essential minerals and nutrients. This can be done through your County Extension Office or with one of our digital meters.

The goal of soil preparation is to replenish vital minerals and nutrients, as well as break up and loosen any compacted soil.

When To Prepare Your Soil

Soil preparation can be done at any time that the ground is not too wet or frozen. Your trees may be planted even when temperatures are quite cool. If a hard frost is expected, it is advisable to delay planting for a while until temperatures become more moderate. Generally, as long as your soil is workable, it is fine to plant.

How To Prepare Your Soil

  • Roots grow faster when they’re spread out. Dig the hole deep and wide enough so the root system has plenty of room to easily expand. Keep the topsoil in a separate pile so you can put it in the bottom of the hole, where it’ll do the most good.
  • To loosen the soil, mix dehydrated cow manure, garden compost or peat moss (up to 1/3 concentration) into your pile of topsoil. Make sure the peat moss you get is either baled sphagnum or granular peat. You can also add our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium or 2 or more inches of organic material and work in evenly with the existing soil.

Your lawn can provide you with ideal organic materials such as grass clippings and shredded leaves. Not only will the grass and leaves break down to provide soil nutrients, but they will help loosen the soil as well. You can gather these in the fall with spring planting in mind.

Common soil amendments:

  • compost
  • sand
  • manure
  • lime
  • peat moss

Adding organic materials, such as our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium and compost will improve most every soil type. Organic materials bind sandy soil particles so they retain moisture and nutrients better. They also break apart clay and silt particles, so that water can infiltrate and roots can spread.

Soil Types

  • Clay and silt soils are made of very small particles. They feel slick and sticky when wet. Clay and silt hold moisture well, but resist water infiltration, especially when they are dry. Often puddles form on clay or silt soils, and they easily become compacted.
  • Loam soil is a mix of sand, silt or clay, and organic matter. Loam soils are loose and look rich. When squeezed in your fist, moist loam will form a ball, which crumbles when poked with a finger. Loam soils normally absorb water and store moisture well. Loam soils can be sandy or clay based, and will vary in moisture absorption and retention accordingly.
  • Sandy soils contain large particles that are visible to the unaided eye, and are usually light in color. Sand feels coarse when wet or dry, and will not form a ball when squeezed in your fist. Sandy soils stay loose and allow moisture to penetrate easily, but do not retain it for long-term use.

Fertilizing

Fertilize your tree in the spring with a well-balanced fertilizer. Sprinkle the fertilizer at the drip line of the tree.

Insects and Diseases

Every tree has the future potential for disease and insect damage. Factors such as location and weather will play a part in which issues your tree encounters. If available, disease-resistant trees are the best option for easy care; and for all trees, proper maintenance (such as watering, fertilizing, pruning, spraying, weeding, and fall cleanup) can help keep most insects and diseases at bay.

Canker

Cankers form around dead branch stubs. These stubs appear to be nearly healed but brown fungus threads may be found in them, and thick, deep callus folds appear and cankers develop as rough circular swellings with depressed centers. This wood-rotting fungus will eventually spread through the tree. Cleaning and scraping the canker and removal of all discolored wood may help.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Anthracnose

Causes irregular purplish or reddish-brown spots on leaves and these spots may merge to form irregular shaped blotches. Although significant defoliation may occur after cool, wet spring weather, this disease is usually not serious to the health of the tree.

Natural Control

  • Rake and dispose of fallen leaves to reduce the chance of infection in the following season.
  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control

Witches' Broom

Bundles of twigs or small branches, or even very large branches, which resemble a broom. Usually more of a problem in the south, witches' broom at the ends of branches shows most clearly in winter. New leaves in spring are light in color and have the white moldy fruiting phase of the fungus on the underside.

Natural Control

  • Destruction of broom twigs and fallen leaves will help to control the problem.

Other Control Options

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Aphids

A larger ash-gray aphid (Longistigma caryae) with triangular black spots on the thorax of the wingless forms occurs on twigs. The winged form has a solid black thorax.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Cigar Casebearer

Larvae 1/5" long with a black head, mine the leaves causing them to turn brown and drop prematurely. The insect overwinters in cigar-shaped cases averaging about 1/8" long. They may be seen on the twigs and branches. Adult brown moths emerge in the spring.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Fall Webworm

Damage the leaves by both feeding and web building. Webworms over-winter within cocoons located in protected places, such as crevices in bark or under debris and fences. Adult moths emerge in summer. They have a wingspan of about 1 1/4" and vary from pure satiny white to white thickly spotted with small dark brown dots. Females lay white masses of 400-500 eggs on the undersides of the leaves. The caterpillars hatch in 10 days and all from the same egg mass live together as a colony. They spin webs that enclose the leaves, usually at the end of a branch, to feed upon them. After they have defoliated a branch, they extend their nest to include additional foliage.
When caterpillars are mature, they leave the nest to seek a place to spin gray cocoons. The mature caterpillars are about 1 1/4" long with a broad dark brown stripe along the back, and yellowish sides thickly peppered with small blackish dots. Each segment is crossed by a row of tubercles with long light brown hairs.

Natural Control

  • In light infestations, pruning and destroying the nests can control webworms.

Other Control Options

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Hickory Bark Beetle

Breeds under the bark. In July, females make an approximately inch long, vertical tunnel in the inner bark and sapwood. In rows of pockets along each side, she deposits one egg per pocket. The grubs hatching from these eggs begin to tunnel at right angles to the parent gallery. The larval galleries, narrow at first, increase in width as the larvae grow. Those at the ends of the parent gallery diverge so as not to run into other galleries. Even a few such brood galleries may girdle the branch. They usually begin in the upper part of the tree. The adult is a small brown or black beetle, 1/5" long, with abdomen truncated at the apex and bearing four short spines.
The beetles emerge in June and July through round holes resembling shot holes and eat at the bases of the leaf stems, causing many leaves to turn brown in July. Some drop and others hang on the trees. There is one generation each year. This pest does most damage to weak trees, especially when stressed by drought.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Hickory Gall Aphid

This aphid forms galls in June on leaf stems and new shoots. The hollow galls contain the young aphids. In July, aphids reach maturity and leave the galls, which turn black. The galls are globular and cause much distortion to the shoots. Eggs remain over winter in the old galls and in crevices of the bark.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Hickory Horned Devil

The appearance of the larva suggests the common name of this insect. It may reach a length of more than 5” and varies in color from green to reddish brown. There are two large black spots on the second thoracic segment and short black spines on each segment with longer black–tipped “horns” near the head. It is never sufficiently abundant to be considered a pest, but occasionally it feeds on the leaves of hickory and other trees. The adult is called the regal moth and is one of our largest and most beautiful moths with a wingspread of 5 to 5 1/2". The forewings are taupe gray with light red along the veins, with a number of oval buff spots. The rear wings are light red with buff spots.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Hickory Leaf Roller

The larva is yellowish green, about 1” long and rolls hickory leaves in a characteristic manner and feeds on them inside the rolls. The moth is dark brown with darker oblique bands on the forewings.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Hickory Tussock Moth

This insect feeds on hickory and other tree foliage. The full-grown larva is about 1 1/2" long, covered with white hairs, with a stripe of black hairs along the back and two narrow pencils of black hairs at each end. The adult moth has a wingspread of about 2", with forewings light brown marked with oval white spots and darker brown veins. The rear wings are light buff. The eggs are laid in patches on the underside of a leaf in July. There is one annual generation and the insect overwinters in gray cocoons fastened to trees, fences or other objects.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Painted Hickory Borer

Larvae become mature in 10 to 12 weeks, pupate in the wood in September and over-winter there. The larva of this beetle tunnels under the bark and in the sapwood of hickory. The beetles emerge in May and June and there is one annual generation. The beetle is about 3/4" long, blackish with yellow markings. There are three narrow cross-bands on the thorax, a W-shaped mark across the wing covers near their base and several other wavy cross-marks. Eggs are laid in crevices or under the edges of the bark and the young larvae tunnel partly in the bark and partly in the wood.

Control

  • Cutting and burning infested trees is the usual measure of control.

Other Control Options

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Walnut Caterpillar

The walnut caterpillar feeds on hickory. This caterpillar is usually noticed in August when clusters of black caterpillars with whitish hairs are found stripping the branches of walnut and hickory. On the trunks and larger branches, gray hairy patches can be seen where the groups of caterpillars have molted or cast their skins. The mature caterpillars are about 2" long, black and covered with whitish hairs. The adult moth has a wingspread of about 2", is light reddish brown and darker reddish lines cross the forewing. The thorax has a bright mahogany-red spot. The moths emerge in July and lay clusters of eggs on the undersides of the leaves. The caterpillars become mature in September, pupate in the ground and remain there until the moths emerge the following season.

Natural Control

  • On small trees, the caterpillars may be gathered and crushed.

Other Control Options

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Pruning

Most hickory nut trees need very little initial pruning, but as the trees get older, corrective pruning may be necessary. Keep these pointers in mind:

  • When the tree is dormant, corrective pruning consists of removing broken, interfering, dead, or disease branches.
  • If any branches are crossing, remove one of them.
  • Prune low limbs that may interfere with sprays or irrigation.
  • Remove limbs and vigorous shoots growing through the center, to allow light and air to penetrate.
  • In the early years, if secondary limbs show narrow angles, you should remove them.

Spraying

Spraying is important to the survival of your trees. To handle potential diseases and pests, reference the guidelines below to know what you should spray, and when you should use it.

Before you begin, read and follow all instructions on labels.

Natural Control

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control for anthracnose.

Watering

Except in times of drought, you probably won’t need to water after your tree is established. Until then, follow these guidelines to get your new trees off to a great start.

General Guidelines

  • If summer brings about an inch of rainfall every 10 days or so, you won’t need to use the hose. But if it gets really dry, you can give your new tree a good, thorough soaking. The best way to do this is to let your garden hose trickle slowly. This gives the water a chance to soak in instead of running off. You can also use a soaker hose to water several trees at once. Give your tree enough water to soak the ground all around the roots.

Harvesting

Are you ready to enjoy delicious homegrown nuts? Harvest is the time to enjoy the results of your hard work. Keep a few things in consideration as you reap the the benefits of your labor: the best time to pick nuts from your tree, and how to store the nuts.

When to Harvest

Harvest begins in late September when they have started falling off the trees. Start your harvest in 8-10 years after planting. Fill a bucket about half full of nuts and fill with water. This process will both wash the nuts and help with the sorting. If the nuts sink, these are good ones and are ready for curing. If they float discard, nuts do not have well filled kernels or could be infested by weevils.

Right after harvest dry the hickory nuts. Remove the husk and spread them out in a dry, cool place with good airflow for 2 to 3 weeks. The kernels will become crisp when dry.

Hickory trees tend towards a biennial bearing cycle, with a heavy crop one year followed by a light crop the next.

Storage

Unshelled nuts should be placed in airtight containers in a cool, dry place. Shelled nuts can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for several months.


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Bare-root Trees

Trees that are shipped without soil to ensure good contact with soil in your yard. When shipped, they are about 3-4' tall with 3/8" or larger trunk diameter. When they mature, they will be one of three sizes*:

Dwarf

Matures to be about 8-10' tall and wide. Provides an abundance of full-size fruit.

Semi-Dwarf

Matures to be about 12-15' tall and wide. Gives maximum fruit yield per square foot.

Standard

Matures to be about 15-25' tall and 20' wide. A multi-purpose fruit and shade tree.

Stark Supreme Tree®

Top-grade, bare-root trees that give you a head start on growing. When shipped, they are about 4-5' tall with 5/8" or larger trunk diameter.

EZ Start® Potted Trees

Trees in bottomless pots that allow some roots to be air pruned, so that a dense mass of productive, feeder roots can grow within the pot to make transplanting easier. Mature sizes vary. When shipped, they are about 1-2' tall.

Select EZ Start® Potted Trees

Top-grade, potted trees chosen to give you a head start on growing. When shipped to you, they are about 3-4' tall.

*Tree sizes may vary by variety. See our Growing Guide for details.