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

C-O Reporter

By Kyle Carroll

Outdoor Journal, Contributed

My Cameron News

BB Highway
P.O. Box 498
Cameron, MO 64429
PHONE: (816) 632-6543
FAX: (816) 632-4508

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