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Go nuts for National Nut Day

  • By Jeffrey Cullen-Dean
  • |
  • Oct. 22, 2019 - 5:24 PM

National Nut Day was celebrated annually on Oct. 22 across the world.

National Nut Day was started in 2015 by the Liberation Foods Company, a farmer-owned company in the United Kingdom, to raise awareness that their product was sustainably grown and to promote giving farmers a fair minimum-wage for their labor, according to .

Bob Westerfield, Senior Public Service Associate at the University of Georgia Extension, said hazelnuts, black walnuts and hickory nuts are native to the state of Georgia.

The American chestnut was also found in Georgia until a blight wiped the crop out in the early 1900s, he said.

“Now people grow imported Chinese chestnut trees. They’re very similar to the American chestnut. The main difference is the one that has been imported is highly resistant to the blight that wiped out the American ones,” Westerfield said. “It basically wiped out all of the chestnuts in the Southeast.”

Westerfield added there’s work being done by various universities to come up with a chestnut that is close to the native one, that could be reintroduced and is resistant to the blight.

The American chestnut is difficult to find, according to Westerfield, and could still be affected by the blight today if found and planted.

“I think it’d be virtually impossible to find,” he said. “I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but I don’t know where they’d start.”

Westerfield said hickory could make a good tree for beginner gardeners; however, if you want to grow nuts at home, the time to plant the trees is coming up.

“In Georgia, you want to plant those in the dormant season, which are in the months between November and early spring,” he said. “At the top of the tree, it’s shut down. The plant has triggered itself into a dormant state and the energy goes down to the roots. Our soil never gets cold enough where the roots don’t continue to grow.

“When we get into the hot temperatures in May the plant has a good base in its root system. May, June, and July get very stressful for plants. The top of the plant redevelops and a lot of energy goes up there and the root system can’t establish as quickly.”

Almonds are not a good tree to grow in Georgia, according to Westerfield.

He said it's rare for the tree to survive in Georgia’s humidity, as it is suited for dry climates.

“I think you'll be sorely disappointed if you try to grow almonds in Georgia,” he said. “You’re better off buying them at the store.”