A champion walnut tree

I undertook an expedition to Kyrgyzstan in 1997 to collect walnut seeds from the wild walnut-fruit forests.

Walnut journal entry – Monday 6th October 1997
The rushing of the mountain river, whose banks we cooked on last night, soothed me to sleep. I woke up to another beautiful sunny day; the sun striking the steep mountainside beyond the river. Its glowing red rock is covered here and there in junipers, walnuts and scrub. Our ‘guesthouse’ is bizarre. It is quite nicely built but had no glass in its windows and has no running water, therefore no sinks nor taps are built-in. The toilet (squat) is 400 metres away – let’s hope I don’t need it in a hurry! All our washing here is now done in the river. Every place that we have stayed at has been slightly less luxurious than the last. Anyway, last night’s mutton stew was wonderful!

A superior walnut genotype
The champion walnut tree K10.17 in Kyrgyzstan

We worked hard in the walnut-fruit forests at Sary-Chelek today, collecting one and a half provenances (i.e. populations of trees from two separate valleys), finishing by 7pm. Our little team became very motivated because we have agreed to visit a lake here tomorrow. By all accounts it is a lake that is difficult to visit as this whole area is protected and out-of-bounds to those without a visitor license. Maybe it’s also because there are so few large expanses of water in Kyrgyzstan too! So we’ve worked fast and collected many seeds today, so that tomorrow we should finish the second provenance in good time.

Today we found a champion walnut tree of fantastic quality (coded as K10:17): it had 18 metres of clean stem (i.e. free of branches) and was as true as an arrow shaft.

Gabriel Hemery

Gabriel's walnut journal
Read more from my Kyrgyzstan walnut journal
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