This might be of interest to others since it will add some perspective of a walnut grower from the past. I was introduced to David Griffith by Tucker Hill who sent me an email on July 11th 1997 with this:
A person in your area who is keenly interested in black walnut is David Griffith, Tel. (205) 825-6617. He can talk about both nut production and timber.
For nut production, I encourage you to graft from known cultivars. Virtually all black walnut trees will produce a log eventually.
Some sources of either or both grafted black walnut trees and black walnut scion wood are:
Cascade Walnut Nursery, Tel. (509) 223-3131
John Gordon Nursery, Tel. (716) 691-9371
Grimo Nut Tree Nursery, Tel. (905) 935-6887
Saginaw Valley Nut Nursery, Tel. (517) 652-8552
St Lawrence Nursries, Tel. (315) 265-6739
George Wells, Tel. (717) 652-1829
Whitman Farms, Tel. (503) 585-8728
One of our Northern Nut Grower Association members has a list of over 500 black walnut cultivars so the list of available trees is quite extensive. In reality, a much smaller number is being actively cultivated\maybe 50 or so. However that is still a large number. Most people grow what has proven to be successful in their local.
To the best of my knowledge a definitive list of black walnut cultivars with specific characteristics does not exist. The best source of that sort of information is fragmented and is in our Annual Reports. I suggest you contact our librarian Jim Quaintance, NNGA Library, 5008 110th Street NE, Solon, IA 52333-9138. Tel. (319) 644-2758. Jim will be able to point you to the best sources of information.
The December 1996 Nutshell, Vol. 50, No. 4, contains an extensive list of the nurseries that handle nut trees. Again, Jim Quaintance would be the source.
E-mail is great, but it does not give one a clue as to where the sender lives. If I knew your state, I could reference you to sources near at hand. Both grafted trees and scion wood should travel the shortest distance possible to avoid drying out.
If you have additional questions, send them.
Subject: Re: black walnut scionwood
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 1997 12:19:49 -0500"
I contacted David Griffith and long story short, went to visit him several times that fall and over the next 7 or 8 years. He showed me 6 of his prize trees which were all within 30 miles of Dadeville. I could still find at least 3 of them because they were in public areas. One was in Camp Hill behind a house. It was an excellent timber type tree with heavy nut production. One was in Camp Hill at the park in an out of the way location. It also was very good timber form though only about 30 years old. One was east of Dadeville in an area on the side of hwy 280. It was not as good for form, but had a heavy nut crop. One he referred to as the “Davidson tree” which was out in the country in the front yard of a very old house. I also carried some scionwood and grafted half a dozen of his trees. The parents were good timber type trees I had found growing in the area. One of them is a tall straight walnut less than 200 yards away from the house I grew up in. I grafted one of his trees with Neel #1 and another with Thomas. To my knowledge, those were the only nut producing walnuts he had grafted.
He also took me to an old homeplace up Horseshoe Bend road where Henry David Haggerty had lived. He had planted several muscadines and a bunch of kiwis as well as a Thomas walnut tree that was about 40 years old. We picked up the walnuts getting 25 five gallon buckets. I remember going about 2 miles further up the road and visiting relatives who still owned the property to get permission to collect the walnuts. I returned a few months later and got scionwood to graft some of my trees. That was arguably the best find from my perspective because I got a bunch of walnuts to eat and I got trees grafted that are now bearing as heavy as that original tree.
My last major memory of David Griffith is going to the Walnut Council meeting in Columbia Missouri. David was unable to drive himself so I agreed to drive if he would provide the vehicle. I think he was 97 years old at that time. He was still getting around better than most 50 year old men. I drove about 180 miles the wrong direction to get to his house, swapped to his vehicle, then we drove right back northwest passing by my home and on to the hotel we had reserved in Columbia. We went to the walnut council meeting and we visited Bill Reid at the pecan experiment station. Here are a few pictures I took at the pecan farm.
I got scionwood from Fred Blankenship in 1998 and used it to make several grafts that spring. I planted a total of 165 trees on 1 1/4 acres of land and started grafting them to nut producing varieties as soon as they were transplanted. The last varieties I grafted were in 2005 when I got scionwood of Pounds #2 from Fred. These trees are now 20 years old.