Stark Bro's Plant Manual for Stark® Champion™ English Walnut

Getting Started

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 walnuts, your ideal soil pH should be 5.0-7.5.

Planting

  • Space your black walnut trees 40’ to 80’ apart, and English walnuts 20' to 40' apart.
  • NOTE: Plant black walnut trees 50’ from fruit trees. The root of a black walnut trees are toxic to many plants.
  • 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, the last bucket should be treated with Stark® Tre-Pep® Fertilizer and let soak in. (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

  • If you’re growing grafted Carpathian walnuts, plant at least two different varieties for better pollination, or plant a seedling Carpathian with a grafted Carpathian. Some Carpathian walnuts will bear nuts without a pollinator. But for larger crops of bigger nuts, it’s best to plant two varieties.
  • Black walnuts and Carpathian walnuts will not cross-pollinate because of different blooming dates.

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.

Care & Maintenance

Fertilizing

Fertilize your tree in the spring with a well-balanced fertilizer. Sprinkle the fertilizer at the drip line of the tree.
The years before the tree starts to bear fruit fertilize in early summer. Use about 2 oz. of 16-16-16 fertilize once a month until the leaves fall in autumn. Double this amount in each year until the tree begins to bear fruit.

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.

Dieback

Causes a slow death, branch by branch. The bark changes from normal greenish-brown to reddish-brown and finally gray in color.

Natural Control

  • Pruning out infected branches promptly. If the disease reaches the trunk, the whole tree needs to be removed.

Other Control Options

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Walnut Bunch

“Witches Brooming”

  • Tufting brooms a profuse development of branches appears on stem, branches and tips. A cause and control is not known. Try pruning out the brooms. Be sure to sterilize shears between each cut.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Scale

Tan to gray 1/16” hard, scaly shell covers developing young. This usually on bark of twigs and branches but may also be on the nuts. Sap feeding weakens the tree.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Rub off with burlap.

Aphids

They are the size of a pinhead and vary in color depending on the species. Cluster on stems and under leaves, sucking plant juices. Leaves then curl, thicken, yellow and die. Produce large amounts of a liquid waste called “honeydew”. Aphid sticky residue becomes a growth media for sooty mold.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Caterpillars

Many kinds can damage walnuts.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Bonide® Thuricide Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT)

Codling Moth

The adult is moth gray with brown patches on the wings. The worms are about 1” long. The nuts have holes from side to core.

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

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control

Chemical Control

  • Bonide® Fung-onil™ Fungicide

Bark Beetle

Young twigs wilt because of boring done by a dark brown beetle, 1/5” long. The larvae bore into sapwood, which can girdle branches. Remove and burn severely infected trees, peel bark from stump.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Cigar Case Bearer

Leaves are mined, turn brown and fall. Mining is done by larvae that is 1/5” long with a black head. The adult is a moth with brown wings, fringed hairs along edge. The larvae over-winter on twigs and branches in cigar shaped cases 1/8” long.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Walnut Blight

Black, dead spots on young nuts, green shoots and leaves. Many nuts fall early but some will reach full size with husk, shell and kernel black and ruined.

Natural Control

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Gall Aphids

Hollow green galls turn black in July. On leaves, stems and small twigs. Insides are lined with living young. Galls are ‘pea sized’ to ½“.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Mites

Pinpoint in size with many different colors. Found on underside of leaves. Sap feeding causes bronzing of leaves. Severe infestations have some silken webbing.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Omnivorous Leafroller

Adult is bell shaped, blackish gray snout-like mouthparts, forewings dark rusty brown with tan tips. Over winters in larval stage in mummified berries, in weeds and other trash. Moths emerge in spring and lay egg masses on leaves. Eggs hatch in 5 days and larvae tie two young leaves together to form nest in which they feed. Does not roll leaves. Later nests can be found in flower clusters and in bunches. Damage is not only from feeding on leaves, flowers and berries, but feeding sites allows rot organisms to enter fruit.

+Natural Control +

  • Bonide® Thuricide® Baccillus Thuringiensis (BT)

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

  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew
  • Bonide® Thuricide® Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT)

Husk Flies

Over winter as pupae in the ground and midsummer adult fly emerges, nearly as large as the common housefly. The bodies of the fly are yellowish-brown and have a dark color pattern on the wings. They feed on the husks of nuts. Female lays its eggs in the husk and the larvae feed on the green husk of nuts.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew

Fruit Tree Leafroller

Moth is brown with irregular yellowish to brown bands across the wings and is about ½ inch long. Larva is about 7/8 inch long, head and back may be amber to light brown or black with rest of its body light green. They feed on opening buds and new leaves and will roll up a leave, webbing them together, for protection.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew

Pruning

Most potted 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.
  • Never cut off more than half the tree height or remove more than a quarter of the live branching crown.

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 and blight.

At The First Sign Of:

  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray for scale, aphids, caterpillars, blight and mites.
  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew for webworms, husk fly and leafrollers.
  • Bonide® Thuricide® Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) for caterpillars, fall webworm and omnivorous leafroller.
  • Bonide® Fung-onil™ Fungicide for anthracnose.

Watering

These trees tend to need a lot of water during their life cycles. Observe the following guidelines:

  • During dry periods, your tree should receive a thorough soaking at least once a week.
  • Water your tree at the drip line (the outer perimeter of the tree’s branches) where normal rainfall would occur, and keep away from the trunk.

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

Start your harvest in late August through October in 3-7 years depending on the variety and growing conditions. Once the shells are full while the hulls are still intact, knock or shake them from the tree, or gather them off the ground as soon as they fall. The kernels of these species are lighter colored.

Drying

  • Heartnuts and Walnuts - Before drying, remove the hull; use rubber gloves to protect your hands from stains.
  • Butternuts - The hull does not need to be removed before drying. As the butternut hull dries, it crumbles and any that remains after the drying process is complete can be easily removed with your fingers. Make sure to rinse the hulls with water before drying in order to remove the tannin, otherwise the tannin will penetrate the shell and disflavor the meat.
  • Spread the hulls or shelled nuts in a single layer to dry.
  • Dry the nuts in a shady area with good air circulation.
  • Depending on the air temperatures the drying time will be 1 to 4 weeks.
  • When completely dry, the kernels will break cleanly when bent.

The nuts will taste better if the hull is removed while it is still a yellowish color.

These nut trees tend towards a biennial bearing cycle; they will have a heavy crop one year followed by a light crop the next year.

Storage

Left in their shell, nuts will keep for several months in a cool, dry area. Alternatively, you can shell nuts and refrigerate them for several months, or freeze them for longer storage.