The leading commercial orchard in the state is that of Mr. Thomas
Prince, of Yamhill county, and is composed almost entirely of seedling
trees. The history of this orchard is best told by Mr. Prince in the
following very conservative letter:
About 17 years
ago the Ladd Stock Farm of Yamhill, Oregon, by the
advice of Mr. H. E. Dosch, then Secretary of the Oregon Horticultural
Society, purchased from the late Felix Gillett, Nevada City, Cal., and
planted quite a number of young walnut trees which are now in bearing.
The first few years their cattle received first attention and the young
trees were not cultivated as much as they should have been to make good
growth. They therefore do not grow the quantity of walnuts they would
have produced with better cultivation. Two or three years after this Mr.
Z. T. Davis, of Dundee, Oregon, also by advice of Mr. Dosch, purchased
of Mr. Gillett some 500 one-year-old seedlings. One year later the
writer, who had some land adjoining Mr. Davis, also became interested
and set out about 1,500 additional trees, and about two years later
purchased the place belonging to Mr. Davis, and became owner of the
young trees at Dundee, with the exception of a few purchased by several
neighbors. All are now in bearing.
Those who do not know the facts are inclined to give the writer more
credit than he is entitled to. Mr. Dosch, the Ladds, Mr. Davis and Mr.
Gillett were first to interest themselves and should receive the credit
to which they are entitled.
We have now in Oregon and Washington quite a few trees in bearing, and
we believe they can be grown here with profit. There is much to learn.
We find the young trees should be carefully set out and receive good
cultivation for the first few years. That the selection of the trees and
the location in which to grow them are very important. The number of
trees to the acre, and whether to grow seedling or grafted trees; and if
grafted whether root grafting or top grafting is best must be
I think growing of walnuts has the advantage of many other products.
The crop is easily grown, harvested and marketed; the labor greatly
economized and the net profits a larger per cent of the gross receipts;
while sometimes with other crops the results are just the reverse--the
net profits but a small per cent of the gross receipts.
The question is often asked how much is land worth that is suitable;
how long before trees will bear, and how much will they produce, etc.
The price of land depends largely on location; generally it is worth
from $50 to $150 per acre. Seedling trees come into bearing from 7 to 9
years of age, quantity from 10 to 50 pounds per tree; number of trees
per acre, 20 to 40.
These trees are about 60 years old and were planted by I. M. Johns, who
took the donation claim two miles southeast of McMinnville, about 1844,
now the Derr farm. The trunk of the largest one on the right is 10 feet
in circumference, and is probably the largest English walnut tree in
Oregon. They have some nuts every year, but are shy bearers, due no
doubt to lack of proper pollination. The nut is not large, but is full
of good meat and resembles the Parry. The trees are about two hundred
yards from the Yamhill river, are hale and hearty and seem good for a
few centuries. In fact, all of the seedlings examined in this county are
healthy and vigorous.
There are half a dozen or more walnut trees growing in the woods and
about the garden of Mr. J. T. Jones, seven miles west of McMinnville,
which are a valuable study to the walnut grower. They are seedlings from
the Casey tree, and they all bear full crops every year. The largest is
21 inches in diameter. One of them has a much larger and finer nut than
that grown on the Casey tree. Hardpan is reached about 18 inches below
the surface, which would indicate that no tap root were needed were it
not for the fact that a tiny brook runs down through the garden not far
from the trees.
Following is the testimony of Col. Henry E. Dosch, taken from Better
Fruit of August, 1908:
It is over twenty years since I first experimented with nut
culture, more especially English, or, more properly speaking,
French walnut culture, and by persistent effort in keeping this
matter before the horticulturists am more than gratified to know
that this important industry is at last receiving the attention it
deserves; and a few who took my advice in the beginning and planted
on a commercial basis are now reaping the benefit, as their
products command the highest price in the market.
First generation nuts are produced on original trees, or on trees
grafted from the original trees. Those nuts when planted produce
second generation trees, and the nuts from these second generation
trees are a little larger than the original or first generation,
which is due to the peculiar soil and climatic conditions of the
Pacific Northwest, so well adapted to nut culture. Trees grown from
second generation nuts retrograde very rapidly, producing nuts not
half so large as even the first generation trees, and finally
running out altogether. Hence it is very essential that we plant
nuts from the original trees, or trees grown from the original nuts
or grafted from the original trees.
A tree on John E. Brooks' claim, Casey Place, is one of the earliest and
most important trees in the country. It has borne a good crop every year
for thirty-five years, and in all that time has led a strenuous life. It
was planted first in Portland from a nut supposed to have been brought
from the Rhine in Germany by a German sea captain. It was broken down by
stock when Amasa Brooks saw it, and with the consent of the owner
transplanted it to its present site, on the side of a red hill a few
rods above the house and about 100 feet above the level of the valley.
There it was much abused by stock, and exposed to other accidents. When
it began to bear, the squirrels would gather the nuts as soon as they
were big enough to attract them. When the tree was visited in August,
1909, for the purpose of getting a photograph it was found that a
squirrel had burrowed under the roots, making an opening large enough to
admit a good-sized foxhound, and a quantity of nuts hulls were piled
about it and scattered beneath the tree. It is 23 inches in diameter and
has a branch spread of nearly 60 feet. Trees of the fourth generation
from this tree are in bearing near McMinnville and are producing fairly
good nuts, some better than the original tree, demonstrating that the
seedling walnut tree can be improved here by seed selection.
The above is a two-year-old grafted tree in the orchard of Mr. Prince.
It was sent to him by Judge Leib, of San Jose, in order to convince him
of the superiority of the grafted tree. You will note that the little
bush has two good-sized nuts, and also that it bore one last year, the
first year from the nursery. With this ratio of increase at 20 years of
age it would produce about three and one-quarter tons of walnuts,
counting 42 nuts to the pound, the weight of first-class Oregon walnuts.
But this is not probable.
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