Walnut Orchard Establishment
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Walnut orchards are typically arranged in one of two planting systems that have different methods of management. Traditionally walnuts have been planted in widely spaced orchards (i.e. 25 x 25 ft. to 30 x 30 ft.) that allow the tree canopy to expand and fill its allotted space. This planting design maximizes canopy coverage over the lifespan of an orchard, but does not provide early returns because of the time it takes for the canopy to fill available space. Pruning mature orchards in this design is often done by hand with the aid of pruning towers.
Another common orchard design is the hedgerow design where the trees are planted closer together down the tree row (i.e. 22 x 15 ft.). The hedgerow design brings early returns because the increased number of trees has a larger early combined canopy and yield. Hedgerow plantings are normally pruned by hedging machines instead of hand pruning. Hedgerows are typically pruned in a three or four year cycle so that the fruiting spurs can regenerate between cuts.
Budding, Grafting & Planting
This topic is thoroughly covered in a series of 14 short videos in which nurseryman Alex Suchan demonstrates various methods. The series, produced and narrated by Rachel Elkins, UCCE Pomology Farm Advisor and UC ANR, is accessible through our Video Gallery: Budding, Grafting and Field Planting Walnut Trees