One of the main questions related to growing walnuts is when will the investment be recouped? Is it possible for me to get some early return on the investment I have made in my walnut orchard?
We will offer you methods that will additionally bring income from your walnut plantations, enrich the natural biodiversity and at the same time bring additional benefits to each planted walnut tree! These methods are mainly related to the utilization of the inter-row spaces in your walnut garden, as well as the practical use of the allocated areas.
Agroforestry is the combined and coordinated planting of agricultural crops and trees, mainly legumes. Vacant areas are covered with combined plantings that benefit each other. This method can be used for various purposes, but mainly it is applied to reduce erosion, enrich the composition of the soil and obtain additional income. We will introduce you more to the correct and not-so-correct combinations that can be performed. With the right approach and good planning, double yields can be obtained - once from walnuts and once from the additional sown crop.
Alley cropping - this is a method of planting trees in rows. The space between each row is filled with accompanying, appropriate culture. This process requires very careful planning. Many questions need to be clarified before starting this venture. It is often used to add another cash crop, but it also has many benefits in terms of reducing surface water runoff, enriching soil fertility, and reducing wind erosion. When multiple crops are managed appropriately, the farm can be kept more productive throughout the year, increasing income and reducing the risks associated with monocropping (growing only one crop).
We recommend a planting scheme where there is 5m spacing between walnuts in a row and 6m spacing between rows. It is necessary to emphasize that at the beginning the sown culture will have the largest volume of the occupied area, until about the third year from the planting of the young sapling. Subsequently, with its development, this volume will have to be reduced according to the development of the tree's crown and roots. It is very important to ensure that these plants do not compete with each other either for light, water, or the development of the root system.
The cultivation of walnut trees brings great benefits related to income from the sale of finished products (fruits and nuts); contain valuable elements in the production of medicines; high-quality finished wood is processed into wonderful wood products and more. All this combined with additional income from agriculture brings further benefits such as significantly increased yield of staple food crops, increased biodiversity, soil enrichment, and reduced risk of soil erosion and carbon sequestration.
Agroforestry can also use nitrogen-fixing systems to restore soil nitrogen fertility, such as legumes. They are very good at this. Nitrogen-fixing plants can be planted sequentially or simultaneously with afforestation with nut crops. The planning of an additional crop can also take into account the fact that at the beginning there will be a lot of space between the rows and plants that need more light can be sown. Subsequently, crops can be selected to co-exist in a comfortable relationship with the growing walnut shade, or plants can be selected to create competition for the walnuts (in the early years) to encourage them to grow straight up with less lateral located branches.
The main goals of agroforestry on a personal level can be:
· Achieving a high return on the initial investment until the walnuts develop to the point where they are yielding.
· Cultivating every single space that the walnuts do not yet have a cover by the time the trees begin to touch their crowns.
1. Crops that build a vegetative cover between walnut trees retain more nitrogen in the soil and help to maintain its moisture, to form more organic compounds, and provide more shade over the roots;
2. If you stop at vegetation that is taller, natural competition will be created for the young walnut sapling, which will quickly go up, forming fewer side branches, which will lead to less pruning of shoots later;
3. Every few seasons, the vegetation can be rotated to ensure the necessary diversity of the soil composition;
4. If possible, grazing cattle can be left free to feed on grass and naturally enrich the soil with organic matter (manure). As an added bonus, in this case, some animals such as free-ranging cattle prevent reforestation by grazing around the trees;
5. Controlled cultivation of several compatible crops reduces the presence and spread of weeds. Before planning this process, it is a good idea to gather information about each type of crop desired to be planted. Also, following these steps would make it easier to control and maintain the walnut row.
To begin the analysis, one can begin by dividing the plants into two types: those that develop properly near the walnut and those that cannot coexist near it. If there are the following visible signs on the plants near the walnut, such as yellowing, and drying, it means that the plants cannot obtain the necessary substances for their development. Such may be plants sensitive to juglone. Such plants are susceptible to more diseases such as blueberries, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, asparagus, cabbage, and potatoes, and some trees such as apples and pears. When this is known, there are ways to solve this problem and arrange the walnut garden in complete harmony with the rest of the plantations.
In such cases, it is recommended to collect and compost the nuts, bark, branches, and fruits, including shells, in a separate and well-fenced compost. There they will begin the process of decomposition, and in about a year the juglone will be completely decomposed. This is done to prevent leaves from falling on incompatible crops and to reduce the chance of this substance returning to the soil. A certain distance from the walnut plantation is also recommended - about 15m from the sown crop. Juglone is found in the bark, roots, leaves and fruits of the walnut. Its composition includes vitamin C, B2 and B6, tannin, micro and macro elements, organic acids and flavonoids. The benefits for humans are that it strengthens the immune system, has pronounced antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. But in some plants, the presence of this element makes it difficult to take substances. Then the plants cannot produce enough energy for their proper development. Fortunately, not all plants are sensitive to juglone. It is easy to understand which plants to avoid and which to use in coexistence with walnut plantations.
Plants grown near the walnut tree.
When an organism produces one or more organic substances that affect the growth, survival, and reproduction of other organisms, it is called allelopathy. We strive to follow basic rules by which we can derive maximum benefits for our plants and provide the best environment for their coexistence in an ecologically sound manner. We will share our observations with you, but before that we will single out several groups of plants that live wonderfully near walnut groves.
Trees that coexist well together
They can have a protective function, protect against wind, strengthen the soil, help biodiversity or have a decorative function. In most cases, they are a competitor for the light and water of the walnut. Trees that can be grown near walnut are Oak (Quercus sp.), Beech, Willow (Salix sp.), Eastern White Cedar (Thujaoccidentalis), Fir, Dogwood, (Cornusalternifolia) Sycamore, Linden, Persimmon (Diosyprosvirginiana) and Quince (Cydonia oblongata). Dogwood is loved because it is the first of all plants to bloom in spring and because of its tasty and useful fruits. The sycamore is a tall growing deciduous tree, it is well resistant to drought and juglone. The linden tree, with its gently blooming flowers and exceptional aroma, is a tree with more than one benefit, which also coexists very well with walnuts. The persimmon is less popular but is also well resistant to juglone. Quinces are distant relatives of roses, apples, and pears, these extremely useful fruits are tasty and aromatic and harmonize well in their development near walnuts.
Some fruit trees and shrubs do not feel good in the vicinity of other plants or, on the contrary, successfully coexist with them. In the first case, plant roots can be at the same depth and interfere with each other. We will offer bushes that not only peacefully coexist with the walnut culture, but also bring additional benefit to their owner. We will focus on the following species: Hazelnuts (Corylus sp.), Rosehip, Hawthorn, Elderberry and Black Raspberry
The spike is very durable and easily adapts to difficult conditions. If you place a few bushes near the walnut trees and enjoy the contrast of colors, textures and aromas! Hawthorn - has edible, tasty berries that, along with the leaves, are used for healing powers in teas and elixirs. Like walnut trees, hawthorn knows how to protect its borders. Elderberries provide food, beauty and medicine while being resistant to juglone. They are also lovely when they bloom in the spring. Black raspberries have a fantastic taste and grow well near walnuts, but blackberries do not tolerate this proximity.
Yarrow (Achilleamillefolium) Folklore says that poisonous plants and evil creatures cannot live in a place where yarrow grows freely. It is a very valuable herb because of its positive qualities. Garlic, beets, leeks, chives, shallots or onions, pumpkin, carrots, wheat, parsnips, red beets grow well near the walnut. Maize, like wheat, can grow better when planted near juglone-producing trees. It should be noted that crops such as wheat, corn, oats, rye, sunflower, poppy, sesame, hemp, canola, tobacco, cotton and flax can be grown well in combination with walnut, but special attention is needed to the water reserves of the walnut. This accompanying vegetation appears as its competitor for water and for this reason it is advisable to water the walnut tree. Squash (Cucurbita spp.) also has a causal relationship to juglone, and its proximity to a walnut tree appears as another possibility forclimbing. In addition, its large leaves and horizontal growth provide additional shade and soil moisture retention. Some studies show that planting wheat near the walnut root zone can increase its productivity. Sumac (Rhuscopallina) is another plant that pleases us with great flowering and great edible fruits. Apart from its medicinal value, it is also sought after for its natural beauty. Flowers can also be grown around the walnut. We'd suggest the violets, specifically. They will delight in their beauty during the spring days and by the fall they will have freed their place so that the finished walnut production can be safely collected. Other plants that are not capricious to walnuts are the bluebell, the daisy, the primrose, and some types of fern. There are many other plant species, but we have settled on those that we know to thrive well in our geographic lands.
What do we choose to combine with the proximity of a walnut?
We grow our walnut saplings in combination with clover, alfalfa, and herbs such as lemon balm and sage. Our goal is to make maximum use of space and to obtain the highest possible return from the extraction of the selected production. We only see benefits from the coexistence of our chosen cultures. It is necessary to emphasize that each crop has its own best moment for planting and usually this is done in autumn or spring.
We could also propose an idea for a combined business with walnut trees and Christmas trees (fir). Both plants will compete for light and develop a tall crown. And Christmas can bring double income.