One walnut tree is not necessarily the same as another walnut tree. Many people will have planted a walnut seed in their backyard waiting hopefully for the growing tree to produce a crop of nuts. They will appear of course, as that is the wonder of nature, but the tree may be 20 years old before it crops.
Many people don’t realise that there have been available commercially for decades, many selected cultivars of different walnut varieties. No gardener would think of planting a wild apple or pear and expect a good crop of fruit of known quality. It is just the same with walnut. Choose a cultivar that has been bred for its nuts and you will be rewarded with consistent crops of nuts of a specified taste and quality. Even more attractive is the fact that a grafted walnut cultivar may start producing nuts only 3 years after planting in the garden or orchard; compared to the 15-20 years for a seedling tree.
walnut cultivar varieties
- Fernor – A modern (1995) French variety. Late to leaf, precocious flowering, lateral fruiting and blight tolerant. Its fruit is late to ripen, large size and of excellent quality. In France, yields of 1 tonne per hectare at 6 years-old are usually attained, and 4-5 tonnes per hectare when mature.
- Franquette – A traditional French variety, representing 75-80% of orchards (15,000 ha) in just two French production areas (ref). Late leafing, good productivity, excellent nut quality. It is a terminal bearer (1- 2 fruit per terminal) which requires only light pruning. Yields are only moderate compared to modern lateral bearing varieties such as Fernor and Lara. Partly self-fertile, bearing fruit at 3-5 years. Late fruiting season, nut size mid to large. Resistance to blight. It has a light blond shell, and its fruit has a delicate taste.
- Lara – French variety (developed 1980s), good fruit quality, precocious and highly productive. Early bud break and fruit ripening. Average vigour, quite upright in habit and lateral bearing.
- Ronde de Montignac – An old French variety. Fairly vigorous growth, semi erect habit, light cropper producing small/medium-sized nuts with high quality kernels. Late to leaf so it can avoid Spring frost damage.
- Some other French varieties
Marbot (preferred variety for fresh walnuts), Granjean (fleshy fruit with distinctive taste), Corne (good disease resistance, sweet taste, fine texture), Mayette (sweet rich favour) and Parisienne (vigorous and productive when mature, can be grown on less fertile sites).
- American varieties – caution is required when planting some of these varieties in Europe due to problems from early leafing in Spring.
Chico (excellent variety), Hartley (vigorous growth and productive fruiting), Pedro (good productivity and suitable for temperate climates).