Nuts, Wood, and Squirrels
Cameron and surrounding areas is prime
habitat for an often overlooked commodity,
the black walnut. These walnuts grow
naturally in Missouri, which is the largest
walnut wood producer in the world. The
deep, well-drained soil of north Missouri is
ideal for walnut trees.
Walnut wood is a $ 530 billion dollar
industry, and Missouri walnut lumber is
among the best in the world. Walnut wood
is used in the furniture industry, veneer, and
gun stocks, and is an excellent wood for
artists to carve.
But the market for Missouri walnut
goes far beyond the timber. The walnuts
themselves are another major industry in
high demand. A major world marketer of
walnuts is Hammond Products in Stockton,
MO. They are the world’s top processor
of walnuts in the world. They purchase,
process, and distribute between 10 and 30
million pounds of walnuts each year. The
variation in the nut market is due to the fact
that walnut trees only produce “bumper”
crops every other year.
Walnut trees have relatively straight
trunks and grow naturally in Missouri
woodlands. They have a symbiotic
relationship with squirrels. Walnuts are a
major food source for squirrels, and they
unintentionally “plant” new trees since they
bury the nuts as a winter food source. They
forget where many are buried and these
will sprout in the spring, making walnuts a
renewable forest product.
Walnut leaves are long and “feather-like”
in design. The leaves are a favorite food of
luna moth larvae which in turns attracts a
number of song birds. In a negative light,
walnut trees produce a chemical, juglone,
which stunts or grows plants growing
nearby. Plants and shrubs should be planted
a reasonable distance from a walnut tree.
Walnut shells are also used in producing
activated carbon (sometimes called activated
charcoal) which is used to purify liquids and
gases. It is used to purify municipal drinking
water, in food and beverage processing, and
industrial pollution control.
Walnut trees can be an extra source of
income for Missouri farmers, and some
landowners plant them for a long-range
money maker. However, it takes a tree 50-75
years to reach maturity, so the benefits often
go to future generations.
Harvesters of walnut timber need to
be protective of younger, nearby walnut
trees in the harvesting process, and also
not to cut trees before they reach optimum
maturity. Timber cutters realize the wisdom
in preserving young trees for future harvest.
In the city, walnut trees are a handsome
shade tree, but their production of walnuts
will attract squirrels and create a mess
when walnuts begin to fall from the trees in
September and October.
We can be proud of Missouri’s stature
in the world of the walnut industry. It is a
heritage we want to preserve for future
generations to enjoy.
Outdoor Journal Nuts, Wood, and Squirrels
A Place to Shoot By Mike Hanrahan
By Kyle Carroll email@example.com
Outdoor Journal, Contributed