New Nut Trees will One Day become ‘Delicious Deciduous’ at Wooster

Walnut, pecan, and hickory trees won’t produce nuts for another 15-25 years

December 17, 2012 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — Mark Niemczyk, campus horticulturist, was motoring around on his Cushman utility vehicle late last month with a smile on his face and a stash of nut tree seedlings in his cart, looking for just the right locations to plant them on campus.

According to Niemczyk, there is only one other intentionally planted nut tree on campus — a giant walnut timber that has stood near the Galpin Hall parking lot for more than 75 years — but many people have been asking about adding nut trees to the landscape. Niemczyk was able to find some at a nursery in Missouri that specializes in grafting and late fall is the perfect time to plant them.

The seedlings look like “a stick with roots,” said Niemczyk, adding that “these have never been in the ground”…until late November when he planted two English walnut trees behind Douglass Hall, two pecan trees near Kenarden Hall, and four Missouri Mammoth hickory trees between Mateer Hall and Gault Alumni Center. It was necessary to purchase more than one of each tree in order to encourage cross-pollination.

"Planting these trees is a long-term, forward-thinking act because long before they produce nuts, most of the current staff, faculty, and students will be long gone,” said Niemczyk. “My goal is to be alive long enough to see nuts on those trees. People who plant long-lived trees must think ahead 50, 150, or even 300 years. It would be great if everyone did.”

It will take at least 15 years and possibly as long as 25 years before these trees begin to produce nuts, but when they do, students, faculty, and staff, can harvest them for a variety of delicious options — provided, of course, that they get there before the squirrels do.