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Walnut Bloom

The seasons are a changing. It is crazy how overnight winter was over and spring was out. Now this week, I feel like summer is coming with hot 90 degree days. But before the warm up, last week I spent a nice cool week in Chico visiting family.

There are a lot of things I miss about Chico but one is seasons. Chico has spring and more than just for a week! Can you tell I like seasons. Trees were blooming and pollen was flying. I may have grown up in Chico and it will always be home, but my sinuses forgot what all that pollen was and man were my allergies going crazy.

My parents are lucky to still live on the main ranch where they settled in the 1970's and made home. It is a beautiful walnut orchard now and the catkins were out while we were there. Catkins are the walnut's equivalent to a flower. They are essentially a pollen sack.

Catkin starting to open up

Catkin which has had pollen dispersed

Walnuts are wind pollinated so they don't rely on bees like almonds and other fruit trees. The pollen will blow from one tree to another with wind. The 70-80 degree weather with a slight wind is ideal for walnut pollination. Walnuts also don't require quite as many pollinator varieties as almonds. Many almond orchards are planted every other row or every third row with a different variety. Walnuts are more like every 4 or 5 rows they put a pollinator tree every 10 trees or more down the row.

Chandler is the most common commercial walnut variety and a Cisco is a common pollinator with overlapping pollination. These varieties are so similar in size and bloom time that they are even harvested together. This makes walnut harvest that much faster than almonds. In almonds, the pollinator timing is not as similar but the nut characteristics are so different that harvesting of different varieties is necessary.

The most important stage of walnut pollination is commonly referred to as 'prayer stage' because it looks like praying hands. This is the most susceptible stage for a disease called blight, which could harm the development of the nut. Copper helps to dry out moisture and put a protective layer on the pollen. A good calm wind can also do the same thing, but who can predict Mother Nature.
Leaf shoots and walnuts forming

two baby walnuts developing

During this stage the leaf is starting to push out and inside the walnut will form. Once the leaves start to come out, the walnuts will start to pop out too. The walnuts will continue to grow and in October they will be slightly larger than a golf ball and will be harvested.

So now you know a little more about walnuts! Want more? Just let me know and i'll ask my expert Dad all you need to know about walnuts.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny


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