SONG News April 2012 no.94
In this Issue...

March 29th Hazelnut Information Session Panel Group, shown getting ready for their session. From left to right are Jim Todd (OMAFRA), Adam Dale (University of Guelph) and Martin Hodgson (SONG)

News from the Eastern Chapter
John Sankey

ECSONG's Winter Meeting 2012 was held 14 January under a crisp clear blue sky. John Sankey gave a brief summary of the year's activities and plans. Gordon Wilkinson, who works in Vancouver but lives for his orchard-to-be near Clarence Creek, talked of his successes and plans, illustrated by laptop photos and graphs. Dr. Roman Popadiouk discussed technical factors involved in selecting nut trees for commercial and amateur growing in the Ottawa area. During all the breaks, members were discussing everything to do with nut growing while enjoying coffee and nut goodies. Gordon Wilkinson's chocolate black walnut balls were the clear favourite, outclassing Ferrero Roche's hazelnut version almost two to one.

The AGM elections saw Ted McDonald replace John Adams as councillor, and all other members re-elected as last year.

Lavant Shagbarks
Paige Cousineau

On Monday 5 September Paige Cousineau, Murray Spearman and John Sankey scoured the Lavant shagbarks site looking for nuts. We found 270, all dropped during a storm a few days earlier, under over a dozen trees, the largest number of bearing trees we've ever found. All were found east of the logging road; as in past years, none were found under the higher growing trees west of the road. Most seem viable, sinking in water.

On Saturday 10 September, Paige, John, Joanne Butler, Sheldon Hood and Joann Touw made a second pass of the eastern section. Only a few dozen more nuts were found on the ground. In contrast to prior years, no squirrels were heard during either visit, nor was evidence found that they had downed any of the nuts. A small number of chewed hulls were found that might have been eaten by other rodents after they had fallen.

Most of the seeds have been planted at the Sawmill Creek, Dolman Ridge and F.R.Park plantations, with the remainder going to individuals in the Ottawa area for planting.

Hardy Heartnut Project
Gordon Wilkinson:

Germination of the heartnut seed has been lower than hoped for, about 1/3 of the two Campbell varieties, about 1/5 of the Imshu. Perhaps a few more will appear next spring. But the project is on its way. Keep in touch with it at

Filmore R. Park Nut Grove
Peter Goddard:

The grove, at Baxter Conservation Area, is thriving and quickly becoming a mature nut tree forest. In its protected microclimate, even several less hardy species and varieties are healthy. The grove is fairly free of fungi and pests, other than a few recent invaders like butternut canker. The small, but deep, pond in the centre of the grove is supporting a healthy group of green frogs and painted turtles. A pair of young ospreys took up residence this past spring on the nesting platform provided for them.

The trio of heartnuts bore nuts this year. Unfortunately, neither John Sankey nor Gordon Wilkinson heard about it until squirrels had finished them off. Next year, we hope to collect some for the Hardy Heartnut project.

Plans are in place, in partnership with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, for improved signage and identification maps, significant pruning and improvement of the surrounding enclosing woods. We also plan o add several new species and to properly catalogue the condition of those already there.

Perth Wildlife Reserve
Jim Ronson:

The reserve is at the southern edge of Perth. There are some hay fields that are intended as deer forage, but are too open for them to feel safe. Jim Ronson has been urging the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority to allow ECSONG to establish nut trees there. This could take the form of patches or lines of trees that would improve deer security, add biodiversity and provide food for a wide range of wildlife. On November 2, Jim, John Sankey, and a dozen members of the Rideau Valley Naturalists formally presented the case at an RVCA open house.

Upper Canada Village Wood Lovers' Weekend

John Sankey was at Upper Canada Village the Thanksgiving weekend with the updated ECSONG display (NEW! IMPROVED! With NUTS!) and our new brochure, as well as brochures and a display for Oak Valley, a brochure and book for the Arboretum, and on the last day the literature for South Nation Conservation as well. So, our table was full of great ideas, but interest from visitors was very muted, except for ECSONG's Dan Mayo who provided two musical interludes on Sunday, and Murray Inch and Kim & Lester McInnis from Oak Valley who stopped by. ECSONG benefitted as much from contacts with fellow exhibitors as with the visiting public.

Other Nut Activities in Eastern Ontario

Roman Popadiouk held a seminar for the Master Gardeners of Ottawa-Carleton on choosing nut trees for commercial and amateur projects, at Carleton Place on 15 October. The 20 year old shellbark hickory at the Collett's in Lanark produced its first nuts this year. Two American chestnuts also produced.

Update on Gordon Wilkinson's Nut Tree Orchard

The majority of the large heartnut trees that died back to their roots in 2009 continue to recover. Three of them have attained or exceeded their previous maximum heights and currently range in height from 5'5" to 7T". Unfortunately, growth in the other recovering heartnut trees has been considerably slower and their heights, which use to range from 2'9" to 5'2", now range from only 2'8" to 3'6". Cultivation techniques have been the same across trees so the reasons for the varying rates of growth are unclear. The Imshu heartnut seedling tree, which survived the difficulties of 2009, developed cracks on the south side of its trunk last year. The cracks have worsened this year, which may account for the lack of growth during the current growing season. Given the virtual absence of stem growth, the number of developing male catkin buds on this tree is far lower than last year.

To reduce the probability of damage from late spring and early fall frosts, some heartnut seedlings were transplanted during the fall of 2009 and the spring of 2010 to a location on the property with a slightly higher elevation. These transplanted seedlings were still bright green on October 15th while most heartnut seedlings at lower elevations showed partial or complete loss of leaves due to frost damage at some point earlier in the month. Despite the more favourable location, the heights of these transplanted heartnut seedlings are very modest, ranging from only 27" to 4'. Considerable dieback of these transplants took place in 2010 when an exceptionally early spring encouraged premature leafing that was subsequently killed by frost. There are five ten-year old pecan trees on the property. Despite their age, heights are very modest - ranging from 4'2" to 57", due in part to neglect during the first several years of their life and to branch dieback as much as 2 feet following most winters. Horticultural authorities attribute branch dieback to insufficient hardening with the approach of winter, marginal hardiness for the area, or extreme winter cold. [Charles W.G. Smith (2004), The Weather-Resilient Garden, Storey Publishing, p.62.] This was the first season that none of the pecan trees showed signs of branch dieback.

Shagbark hickories from southern Ontario sources are slowly taking on a tree shape. The oldest surviving shagbark, planted in 2002, has reached 4'. Once again neglect in earlier years and some branch dieback has slowed growth.

There are more than two dozen black walnut seedlings on the property which were grown from seed originating from Cumberland Township and planted in 2008, 2009, and 2010. The largest of these seedlings is now 2'3". Only a handful of black walnut seedlings from southern Ontario sources remain alive. The tallest of these was planted more than 5 years ago and is only 4'1" in height. The imperfectly drained clay soil on the property is not congenial to rapid growth in black walnut. The black walnuts grown from seed have been transplanted into mounds of loamy soil to mitigate the drainage issue.

Oak Valley Pioneer Park

Run by the Volunteers of OVPP, which includes many ECSONG members, the park has made dramatic progress in just over 20 years. The founder of the Park, Irene Woolford Broad continues to be active. She encourages present volunteers to build on her contributions and those of Ralph McKendry and his wife Myrtle, Ernie Kerr, George Truscott, Alex and Kathleen Jones, Len and Genise Collett, Peter and Sheila Carr. The role of public education about local trees and plants will become a large part of the role of Oak Valley.

The 2010 season formally opened on a surprisingly warm April 24 with a picnic by 52 members of the GeoCachers of Eastern Ontario. (Earlier, MNR had ticketed 2 visitors for fishing out of season.) The grass was again cut for Mother's Day, May 9, the usual opening day for the park but the weather was cold and wet with no visitors a surprising turn of events.

Spring field day was held May 15, over 16 persons turned out to enjoy the fine weather and do a great day's work, trimming trees, repairing the ruts and damages of early spring invading 4 wheelers, reinstalling the entrance way sign, removing more pine in the east end, trimming and removing weeds and tending the flower gardens. At the Annual General Meeting the executive members, Murray Inch, President, and John Sankey, Secretary, were continued on for another year.

The Park has a new web site:


PAPPLE, Elton Earle - Passed away peacefully on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at the Brantford General Hospital, in his 95th year. Beloved husband of the late Phyllis Papple (2011). Dear father of Gail (the late Brian) Sutton and Shelton (Karen Hine) Papple. Loving grandfather of Brian, Madison, Brooke and Joel. Much loved uncle of Ken, Faye and Janice. Predeceased by brother Merle Hugh Papple and his sister Thelma Simmons. The Papple family farm originated on the Brant School Road. In the early 1900's the family bought and cleared 300 hundred acres in its present location on Papple Road. Mixed farming combined with 150 Jersey cows was the lively- hood of the Papple family for several generations. It was known as Belmont Farms , which sold milk to Silverwood Dairies until the dairy farm operation ceased. In 1948, Green-Life Proteins Limited was incorporated by Elton, his brother Merle and their father Earle. At this time, Merle and Elton Papple formed Papple Bros., a Limited Partnership. Green-Life Proteins Limited was one of the first in Canada to embark on a new process of dehydrating alfalfa in bagged meal.

Elton had a passion for nut trees, especially the heartnut that began in his teenage years. He was a lifelong member of the Northern Nut Growers Association and a founding member of the Society of Ontario Nut Growers. He maintained his membership and active interest in the breeding improvement of the heartnut especially in his later years. The crosses he made were taken to the Grimo Nut Nursery to be grown out and evaluated for commercial quality. Hopefully one or more will carry his name.

He developed his own technique for grafting nut trees and successfully grafted trees for the Gellatly Nut Nursery in West Bank, BC for a number of years. He collected various cultivars of nut trees and scattered them around his extensive farm. He was a keen observer and related his observations to anyone interested. He was proud of his grafted heartnut trees that graced his long laneway to his home and business on Papple Road. He was generous to a fault and allowed visitors to collect all of the heartnuts they wished to have from these laneway trees. He enthusiastically gave tours to anyone who were interested in nut trees. His passion for nut growing will be missed by all who knew him.

Interment was at St. George Cemetery. A tree will be planted in memory of Elton at the Beckett-Glaves Memorial Forest.

Annual Growers Meeting

This years annual growers meeting was held in Woodstock at the OMAFRA offices on March 6th. There were quit a few new faces amongst the registers with an interest in growing hazelnuts. With all recent hype about hazelnuts this year's meeting tried to meet some of the new grower needs with speakers on weed and pest control, irrigation, processing, new Government requirements for retails selling, and much more. The meeting started with Dr. Robert Nurse weed scientist with the federal govt. proposing a test plot of hazelnuts at the Harrow research station for pesticide testing and eventually registration of new ones. Al McKeown from the U. of Guelph gave us his final update on the heartnut plantation at Simcoe as Al is retiring and the Simcoe plantation will likely be pulled out (Todd Leuty was tapping the heartnuts for syrup as a test with more to follow on this).

Vandenbusch Irrigation gave the lowdown on orchard irrigation. Paul Bailey from OMAFRA finished the morning session with an overview on what the new food regulations were and how they might affect us as nut growers and retailers. Lunch was catered by Dee's Bakery from Woodstock.

After lunch Elliot Currie - Univ. of Guelph gave us the economics of growing hazelnuts and how to craft a business plan. Todd Leuty OMAFRA and one of SONG's best supporters talked about pesticides and their ongoing quest for minor use on various chemicals for us to use in nut growing and on post harvest food safety. Adam Dale gave his report on the hazelnut test plots at Simcoe and the cloning of the varieties selected. Martin Hodgson SONG research chair for hazelnuts updated us on what is happening at Butternut Farms with his hazelnuts. The meeting was adjourned by 3:30. -Ed.

Provided by SONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.