Growing walnuts for their nuts – the cultivar revelation

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 fruit 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.
  • FranquetteA 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).

Gabriel Hemery


6 thoughts on “Growing walnuts for their nuts – the cultivar revelation

  1. Hi Gabriel . My name is Sergey Grebennikov . I live in Bishkek Kirigizstan . We have a variety of nut skoroplodnost “Ideal” . Propagated by seeds of nuts , the second or third year yields fruits . In five years, gives + – 10killogram fruits of one tree . In 10-12 years yields a harvest of nuts to -250 killogramm from one tree . This variety bred in 1954 in Uzbekistan Kalmykov breeder of wild walnut skoroplodnost in the Ferghana Valley . This sort of “Ideal” Now rayoniruyut Russia ( even in Siberia ) , Ukraine and Europe. Kyrgyzstan in the Chui valley in the foothills cold winters with frost 30-32 degrees below zero by Celso , lowers the yield to -80 killogramm from one tree . Has a second flowering in 20 days after the first. Nuts skoroplodnost varieties are ideal average weight of 10.3 grams, 50.8 percent of which falls into the nucleus. Write or visit us , we have a visa-free regime , and there are a lot of Americans. Bishkek.Sergey .

    1. Hello Sergey,

      I am surprised when I see the figures you provided. I am from Turkey and planing to build a walnut garden in Turkey at the mountain region with approximately 14,000 trees and trying to find out best type of the tree.

      Could you please provide the location (town, city….) you are growing walnuts also the Type of the tree.

      Contact me from fmucahid@hotmail.com if needed.

      Best regards,

  2. Reblogged this on GrowHort – Grow your Horticultural Knowledege and commented:
    Having discovered a file that refers to the trials and tribulations of creating a Walnut paddock of 40 french, grafted hybrids planted in middle England, early 1980’s. I have become hooked to find out more about the history surrounding the humble “English” Walnut and it’s hybrids. We have 35 of the originally planting of these trees, now reaching maturity and bearing heavy crops most years. Originally shipped in from France at great expense the files regularly refer to these trees as the first walnut plantation of it’s kind in the UK? How true this is will become clear as I compile my own article detailing the plight of a Walnut fancier who dreamed of harvesting her own fresh Walnuts from her Manor House Plantation. Sure is going to be an interesting journey and I hope you will enjoy reading it.

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