Walnut trees are among the most popular plants for the home garden. They fascinate by the old age they can reach and of course by the fruits. Walnuts contain many important nutrients that are good for humans. But how long do you have to wait for the tree to bear fruit for the first time? And what returns can be expected? These and other significant questions are clarified below.
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the essentials in brief
As a rule, the walnut tree begins to bear fruit from the age of ten to 20 years. The hobby gardener usually has to wait three decades for very good harvests – high yields can only be expected from the fourth. The rate then falls again as people get older.
In addition to the age of the walnut tree, the variety and location also play an important role in terms of yield. In addition, the tree does not produce equally good fruit every year. In this context, the weather is of great importance.
It is said that good wine years are also good nut years. Basically, it is assumed that a productive year will always be followed by two mediocre harvests and a failed harvest before the cycle starts all over again. This is often the case, but of course not always and everywhere. However, the “rule” is helpful as a rough guide.
When does the walnut tree bear fruit for the first time?
In order to answer this important question in detail, it is important to distinguish between seedlings and cultivars. A seedling grown from a walnut does not usually produce its first harvest until it is 10 years old. Sometimes you have to wait a full 15 years for the premiere walnuts of your own tree.
The process is a little faster if the walnut tree is a cultivar. Then the hobby gardener can hope to receive a decent yield after four to six years. A bit of patience is still required: the tree needs at least two years to grow properly. This is followed by the phase of explosive growth before fruit can appear.
If you don’t feel like waiting so many years for the walnut harvest, it is best to look for a young, strong tree with a trunk circumference of 18 to 20 centimeters. Possible contact points are tree nurseries and online retailers. With a bit of luck, the first nuts will appear in the garden at home a year after purchase.
How high can the walnut yield be?
Modern cultivars of the walnut tree are generally quite productive. Ultimately, the yield depends primarily on the weather conditions in the respective year. Various problems can arise with this.
Problem 1: Late frost in early growing varieties
Even as a layperson, one can very well imagine that early growing varieties do not harmonize well with late frost. Under certain circumstances, the harvest may even fail completely with this constellation – namely when the temperatures drop below freezing point and the flowers subsequently freeze to death.
Pollination Is Not Working Properly Pollination is a big issue with regards to the walnut tree. It often happens that the flowering times of the male and female flowers do not overlap, which hinders fruiting. More detailed information is available on this elementary point in the next section of the guide.
If there are no other walnut trees in the vicinity that may have other blooming times, it looks bleak in terms of yield, as no pollination and therefore no fruiting can take place.
If the problems described do not occur, so that the process goes off without major difficulties, the following annual yields can be expected for walnut trees from seedlings:
- up to the 15th year: 0 kg *
- 16th to 20th year: 10 kg
- 21st to 25th year of standing: 15 kg
- 26th to 35th year of standing: 25 kg
- 36th to 60th year of use: 45 kg
- 61st to 80th year of standing: 55 kg
* If it is possible to harvest beforehand, it is usually only slightly.
In the case of refined varieties, it usually looks like this:
- from the 10th year: 30 to 40 kg; with full yields even 40 to 60 kg
- from the 40th year of standing: 150 to 175 kg
Important: The information on the expected harvests are only guidelines based on scientific research. In individual cases, the yield can also differ significantly from the figures (kilograms) given here.
Magnificent flowers, but no fruit – why is it?
Often one reads or hears the question, why is it when a walnut tree blooms splendidly but bears little or no fruit. The answer is related to the above-mentioned lack of pollination due to the sometimes different flowering times of the male and female flowers.
The real walnut (Juglans regia) is monoecious. That is, the male and female flowers are on the same plant. Now it is usually the case that the male flowers (they have the cute name “kittens”) start earlier than the female ones. The latter can be recognized by their plain white color and sometimes only appear four weeks after their male partners. In these circumstances, direct pollination is almost impossible, so the tree has to hope for cross-pollination.
Incidentally, not only the starting time, but also the duration of the flowering time depends on the weather: If warm to hot temperatures prevail during flowering, flowering is over after a few days. In contrast, wet, cold weather extends the flowering period to several weeks up to a month.
Refined walnut varieties for a consistently high yield
In the case of new breeding of refined walnut varieties, self-pollination usually works without any problems. In addition, some of the trees even have the ability to develop nuts without fertilization. For these reasons, it is advisable to buy and plant grafted varieties when in doubt. This is the only way to ensure that you will achieve high yields on a regular basis. All too often, seedlings grown from walnuts annoy the hobby gardener with crop failures.