It’s Fall And They’re Fallin’

Black walnuts in tree

As you may recall from a previous post entitled Black Walnuts On My Mind, we have from 200-300 black walnut trees on our property, out of which I have located and mapped 94 individual trees that are prolific nut producers this season.  Eventually, the time comes for the nuts to fall from the protective limbs of the walnut trees onto the ground below – that time has now come, as you can see from the following photograph.

Black walnuts on ground

Of the 94 productive trees, 7 are located in the yard surrounding our house, which, for aesthetic reasons, I like to maintain as mowed lawn.  The walnuts that fall from trees in our pastures and fields remain where they lie, until our friend Jasper comes to gather them (which will probably be in the next two weeks, and the subject of a future post).  But the nuts that fall upon my lawn get gathered soon after they fall from the tree, for two reasons.  As you can see in the photo above, the walnuts can easily cause twisted or sprained ankles for the unwary person traversing the lawn, so for safety reasons I like to remove them quickly.

Decaying walnuts

As you can see in the photo above, the walnuts begin their decomposition soon after hitting the ground, and the black, tar-like substance that emanates from within the husk will kill the grasses that lie beneath the rotting nut if it is allowed to remain on the ground.  If this happened with only a few nuts, it would not be a problem, but with thousands of nuts falling from each tree, the lawn would soon disappear beneath the trees if the nuts were not rapidly removed after falling.

Walnut picker-upper

What you see here is a tool for picking up walnuts (and other types of nuts, as well) that Retta was kind enough to purchase for me from a farm store she was visiting in Ozark, Missouri a couple of years ago.  Each and every time I use this tool, I am grateful to her for having had the foresight to buy it, as it has eliminated the back-wrenching stooping that I used to go through in order to pick up the walnuts that were befouling my cherished lawn.

Gathering fallen walnuts

Here, you can see how simple this tool is to use – simply roll it along the ground where the nuts have landed, and like magic, the nuts end up trapped inside.  Soon, the tool will fill with nuts, as seen below, but it is quick and easy to empty the nuts into a suitable container and continue with the task at hand.

Nut gathering tool filled with walnuts

Each morning, after gathering the nuts that have fallen the previous day, I dump them into a pile, where they will remain until either;  A) Jasper picks them up, or B) “my” squirrels gather and bury them for their winter sustenance.

Pile of walnuts awaiting Jasper's arrival

The picture above is the pile of nuts that had fallen in one single day from these seven trees in my yard.  I will gather these nuts on a daily basis until the trees are barren and enter their winter slumber, saving their strength for the crop that they will surely produce next summer.

Variable size of walnuts

It is hard to say with any degree of certainty how much an un-hulled black walnut weighs.  As you can see in the photograph above, the size of the nuts that fell from the same tree are quite variable.  To try to ascertain an average weight of the un-hulled nuts, I filled a five gallon bucket with walnuts, as seen below.

Guess how many walnuts are in this 5 gallon bucket

After filling the bucket, I weighed it on our bathroom scale, and determined the net weight to be 24 pounds.  A manual count indicated that there were 337 nuts in the bucket.  Therefore, simple arithmetic yielded an average weight of .0712 pounds/nut, or about 14 nuts per pound.  Remember these figures, for they will be used in an analysis of Jasper’s labors in a post that will appear here in the near future.

44 thoughts on “It’s Fall And They’re Fallin’

  1. I like that nut-gathering thing. I wonder if it works on spikey-coated nuts, too?

    Here on the west coast of Canada, we’ve got (I think, don’t quote me) chestnut trees everywhere, and this is indeed the time of year that you need to watch your step. Mostly, they are just left on the ground and stomped in throughout the year, but some people will occasionally gather a few and… well, do something with them. I’m not sure.

  2. I’ve got one just like it and it works on gumballs and they’re spikey-coated.

    Hal, walnuts are going up here for $13 per 100lbs (hulled). I’m interested to learn what you find out. In the mean time I’ll be using my walnut picker! 🙂

  3. FC – If the nuts in the wire hoop are like a KFC bucket to the squirrels, then I had better set some biscuits out for them too!

    Mrs. S – The only thing I know to do with chestnuts is “roast them on an open fire” at Christmas, ala Nat King Cole, but I haven’t figured out what you do with them afterwards.

    Duane – Hammons has announced that they will start the season in Arkansas paying $13/cwt also, but the price might change as the collections progress. Their web site says they are not expecting as large a harvest as last year, but Jasper tells me that the trees in this area are more productive this year than last. In the next couple of weeks I’ll have some actual numbers to report.

  4. Oh my goodness – this is EXACTLY the tool I need! We have black walnut trees everywhere – and now, we have black walnuts everywhere too! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  5. I think there are some of these trees on the side of I-30 east of Texarkana about 16 miles. Just couldn’t figure them out from the road at 65mph.

  6. My father uses that same tool to pick up Sweetgum balls from his back yard. I don’t know if any of my walnut trees at Roundrock produced a crop this year.

  7. Pingback: Ranch Ramblins » Blog Archive » Hoping To Top His Previous Record Harvest

  8. Laura – On some days it seems the more appropriate question is – do the squirrels leave any walnuts for us?

    If you saw “our” squirrels, you would see that they are plump and very well fed.

  9. Dave – Throw the nuts into the hulling machine at the collection station! But seriously, I have read that an easy way to remove the hull is to let the nuts begin to decay, at which time the hull will peel off easily. Beware, however, that the process of peeling the nut will leave your hands well stained. Gloves are highly recommended.

  10. Any idea where in Ozark your friend got the tool? Or does it have a “real” name? I drove by someone using one and about swerved off the road…. My Dream Tool! My googling attempts brought me to your site.

  11. Put the nuts in the driveway and drive over them with ur car!! Done it for 50+ years! The hulls need to be pretty dark first.

  12. Can you tell me where I can order the tool? I have a small yard full of nuts from my neighbors tree. Many thanks!

  13. oops, never mind, I just saw the entry above, I had jumped to the bottom without reading it….. 🙂

  14. Chestnuts, once roasted, are delicious eating. They used to sell them on the streets of New York City, as a winter snack/treat. (Nothing is the same anymore – but I date myself.) Roasted chestnuts can also be used in stuffing or other recipes that call for nuts. You have to slice the smooth skin or they will explode in the oven/roasting pan. Their protective, spikey outer shell is difficult to get through but well worth in.

  15. Our neighbors have a walnut tree that is forever pelting our cars and storm windows with nuts. My older daughter wants to try harvesting the fallen nuts we now have over 200 in our yard. My question is, is it normal for the nuts to be falling already? It’s late July and I got nailed twice while changing a flat.

  16. Mike – Some of our walnut trees have dropped nuts during several rounds of severe weather that have passed through here recently, but the steady “raining” of walnuts usually doesn’t begin until about mid-September (around here in northern Arkansas, anyway).

    I’ve been tagged by a falling walnut or two, and it can hurt!

  17. I couldn’t find the nut wizard but made a dandy collection device out of a 2 switch electrical box (about 3 inches square) and about 4 feet of conduit. It looks like a square scooper and works very well in tall grass. If you use clamp type boxes you can change the handle out for a different length to lessing the strain on one arm.

  18. We bought a house years ago, and every year I fight these damn walnuts. Had a deadbeat nephew gather 3 Ford F150 loads out of my yard a few years ago. I mow about 5 acres, and half of em are covered by the damn trees. Any clues on how to stunt their production??

  19. Hi there! We have the walnuts falling from the trees here in Tennessee. I was wondering..after you remove the hull, do you toast them in the oven or something before they are edible? Or, are they ready to eat without doing anything further?

  20. Melisa – The black walnuts are ready to eat after hulling. The shell is substantially thicker than the shell of the English walnut, so you will need to break them open with a hammer, a bench vise, or a special black walnut cracker. A regular nut cracker will not do the trick.

  21. Please advise if you have found a very good black walnut cracker. If so a source, too?

  22. Hello!

    I’ve recently married a man that has a property (67 acres) of nothing but trees in MO. He has had this property for over twenty years saving it for retirement. Every time we go there, we make comments about the trees and how many nuts are being produced. We are thinking about harvesting the walnuts and the hickory nuts but we are city slickers for the past 20-30 years and really don’t know where to start. Any suggestions?


  23. We live in Germany – and just moved into a house that so far, I can tell has a Walnut Tree, and a Chestnut tree. They are falling on the ground – and I am not sure how to proceed with them. I really want to bake with some of the nuts. Are they bad, if once hull is removed – they have dark staining?
    Do they need to be dried out, boiled or anything like that? I grew up in the city; I have NO IDEA about these things!

    Thanks for any info you can give me!

  24. ooo! we have one of those trees in our yard and couldnt figure out what kina nuts they were :] those are definatly them.

  25. I just purchased a nut wizard for the large black walnuts we have on our property. I should be getting it in a week. I’m very curious to see how well it really does work (I’m skeptical as always) but will report back – hopefully with some more good feedback! 🙂

  26. So I tried the new nut wizard I purchased and I LOVE it. It really does do a great job and it’s incredibly easy to use. However, I have 4 black walnut trees and there’s no way I’ll be able to tackle that project with one nut wizard. Some serious machinery is needed to pick them all up – otherwise it would take forever. Definitely a time consuming job.

  27. we have a blanket of black walnut in our yard and need some serious machinery to pick them up. I’m afraid it would take all winter to pick them up with the Nut Wizard now.

    any suggestions. Is there something we can rent?

  28. Hillary and Linda,
    I never said using the Nut Wizard was quick or easy, just a back saver. Having just spent the last three days picking up after my walnut trees, I can literally feel your pain :'(
    I am not aware of any type of rental equipment that is available to pick up walnuts, but if I learn of such, you can be sure I’ll post about it here!

  29. what is the name of the tool???? where can i buy one- i am desperate- hazelnuts and acorns have taken over!

  30. Pingback: Irreplaceable garden instruments: the nut collector tool

  31. I bought a brand new home surrounded by empty forested lots. My chestnut tree towers over my home and drops thousands of chestnuts in the Fall…I would just wheelbarrow them into the forest. Since last year, the lots have both been sold and are now built upon. My backyard is a huge drop from my front yard so I have no way to get the chestnuts UP to the front to take them someplace to eliminate them. Someone suggested having a small fire pit and burning them each year. Has anyone ever done this? Is this an option when you cannot get rid of them from your immediate vicinity?? Thoughts from the chestnut experts?? And, yes… I have giggled to myself about “chestnuts roasting on an open fire! Thanks for any feedback!

  32. I was hoping to read the follow up on Jasper’s efforts and the comparison in Wright for the prices, but I cannot find it. Please send a link if you will. Thanks for the article!

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