Black Walnut named varieties

After enjoying harvesting some native Black Walnut trees over the weekend I am interested in purchasing some “named varieties” that do well in my zone 7A KY/TN border. Can anyone speak on behalf of Stark Bro’s and their Black Walnut Kwik-Krop variety and/or the Black Walnut Black Gem variety? @Fusion_power has mentioned the original Thomas and Neel #1. He isn’t the first one I have heard mention those two. Thank you, they are high on my list I just can’t seem to find a seller for those two or the Thomas Meyer variety.
It’s either purchase the two Stark Bro’s ones or wait for another seller like Nolan Nut to make them available. Appreciate any feedback.


Saved this following list from a discussion on the GW forums some years back. Don’t recall who posted it, but they’ve grown some.

  1. Neel #1 - A very good oval nut with a unique shape. Good anthracnose tolerance, good production, excellent growth with a distinctive central leader and spreading branches. The flavor of this nut is comparable to and maybe slightly better than Thomas. Appears to be one of the best adapted trees in the Southeast. The only flaw I have found with this tree is that it does not like to be crowded, but that is generally true for all black walnuts.
  2. Thomas A medium to large nut with excellent flavor and good crackability. It is slightly susceptible to anthracnose but if controlled with a spray program would be an excellent production tree. My scionwood source is a 40 year old tree in Alabama that produces very well. There is a lot of virus contaminated graft wood of this variety so be very careful of your source! This variety has the lateral branching trait which results in a very high fruiting potential.
  3. Hay #1 aka Thomas Myers. Very large nut with huge kernel pieces and good disease tolerance. Does well here in the SouthEast. Needs good soil and moisture conditions and full sunlight. After 10 years of evaluation, I am of the opinion this variety is not productive enough and kernel quality is not high enough.
  4. Surprise - an excellent quality, precocious, productive, rounded nut cracking out about 35% kernel. This tree tends to grow fast with somewhat prostrate form making it a poor timber producer except when staked and carefully trained. It is a rapid grower under good conditions and can reach early production within 5 years. One flaw I noted, some years 20% or more of the nuts are blanks.
  5. Kwik Krop - an excellent quality flattened oval shaped nut. Nut is oval, oblate, dented with a unique shape. The only complaints are that the kernel percentage is a bit low and that the production consistency is not as good as could be asked for. Kernel color is white to tan, occasionally amber, excellent flavor, and cracks relatively easy.
  6. Mcginnis - This is a small to medium sized nut with excellent kernel color and about 35% yield. It has two flaws in that kernel extraction can be relatively difficult and it has a distinctive buttery taste. The ortet originated in Nebraska so hardiness is excellent. It has very high anthracnose tolerance.
  7. Ogden a tree with heavy production. Grows well in this area. Production has been heavy but nut quality is relatively low.
  8. Sauber #1 Lane scionwood. Medium sized good quality nut. Production is relatively poor. Nut size is a non-starter for me, but this might be acceptable further north.
  9. Sparrow small nut but heavy producer. This is the best early pollinator I have found so far. Its production consistency is the best yet seen with a yearly crop 5 years out of 6. Kernels tend to be darker than I like. Harvest and clean these early to prevent darkening.
  10. Sparks 127 another small nut but excellent quality. Seems to do well here though originally from Iowa. This has been one of the better quality small to medium sized nuts I’ve grown.
  11. Football II very heavy production to the point of overloading. Would need a spray program to control disease. Kernel tends to darken rapidly. Crackability is not as high as I would like.
  12. Pounds #2 A Thomas seedling that is better quality and more disease tolerant. The nuts are shaped pretty much like Thomas but are just a bit harder to crack out. I consider this to be one of the best new varieties.
  13. Farrington - A large nut with fair production and good leaf disease tolerance. Deserves to be propagated more than it has. Kernels darken rapidly so early harvest is advised.
  14. Stoker source Paul Cotner. This tree originated on the Kentucky/Indiana border. It is one of the best cracking nuts I’ve tried yet though kernel percentage is in the 25% range. The pellicle is white to cream colored which is very rare. Flavor is as good as Thomas, almost as good as Neel #1.
  15. Cranz aka Crantz? Good production and flavor, lots of things to recommend this tree. This is a protandrous variety that works very well as an early pollinator.
  16. Sparks 129 - This one is a good overall nut and a rapidly growing tree. Production can be decent but is not high enough for commercial use.
  17. Sparks 147 - The nut shape is elongated and tends to form a long spur on the stem end of the nut. This spur interferes with cracking so much that I don’t recommend the variety.
  18. Tomboy - Small nut, moderate quality. I don’t consider this one to be adapted to my area though it might be a good choice further north.
  19. Ridgeway - Erratic production, relatively low kernel quality, large nuts. Enough said.
  20. Eldora - This is a small nut that might do better further north. I don’t consider it to be viable in my zone.
  21. Ozark King - nice nut when harvested promptly, but the trees are not productive enough to justify growing.
  22. Bowser - Very high quality nut, but the trees are extremely unproductive.
  23. Schreiber - Exceptionally easy to bud, nice size nut, but unproductive.
  24. Daniels - There are two varieties going by this name. I have both, but neither has been good enough to get excited about.

I’ve grafted all of those I have growing now…Thomas Meyers, Kwik Krop, Stoker, Emma Kay, Clermont, and two figured-grained clones, Lamb’s Curly and Christofersen B-22.
Purchased a grafted TM from John Brittain at NRNTN years ago.
You can buy scionwood from Nebraska Nut Growers, maybe from Cliff England at England’s Orchard and Nursery.
Thomas Myers and Stoker are probably the best I grow here on the KY/TN border. Emma Kay is good, but hasn’t produced for me… tree is in a bad spot… same for Clermont, which has the thinnest shell I’ve ever seen on a BW.
Have a nut-grower friend in Flint MI who says Kwik Krop is his best.


Many thanks @Lucky_P! This is a phenomenal list! Much greater and in depth than I could ever imagine. Thank you!

I am interested also . Anyone have experience with the single kernel types Like Mulman ? Would like to try one of the better ones . Hard to find grafted trees . My walnut grafting is poor .

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Nolin Nursery is taking orders, they just haven’t updated their website. I’d say it’s worth giving them a call.


Yeah. I will try to call again tomorrow. Called today and no answer.

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Thank you for the info . Took awhile to figure how to click on to see the varieties listed .

Pounds 2 & krackseasy are both very good.

Sparrow is very good but doesn’t crack quite as well as the above.

A few others that were deemed very good by the Iowa Nut Growers Association over a 10-year trial period are:
Sparks 129
Sparks 127
Sparks 147


Lots of editing on my part. Emma Kay is a very good nut. It does get into an every other year cycle of producing heavy crops, however.
Fred Blankenship just called me back and I re-edited everything I wrote a few minutes ago.

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Guess I did pretty good. I bought my Mom, in northern Illinois, a Sparrow and Emma Kay in about 1976. She harvested nuts off those for yrs. She used to send me some each yr. Now my brother lives at the home farm and still harvests nuts nearly every yr. The trees are pretty big by now. More than 30ft tall.

I planted some of the seeds in Amarillo in 1995. The trees were prefect timber type trees and 12-15 ft tall when I left in 2000. Hated to leave those behind.


Perfect combo in your case @fruitnut. Proven fact. Wow, over 30 years, that is so impressive. Your Amarillo seedlings are probably doing amazing right now as well. I am looking for a good combo. If it does half as good as your Emma K/Sparrow combo in N. Illinois I will be happy. Going to try Kwik-Krop and Black Gem and hope to add Neel and Thomas Meyer as an additional pair. Still looking for those two.

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Zack, I’m guessing you probably wouldn’t need to worry about pollination compatibility with all the wild black walnuts you have in your area. Do you have volunteer seedlings you could use for rootstock? Have you done any grafting? I grafted my first black walnut in 2013, and I got my first nuts from grafts I did in '13 and ‘14 (both Thomas Myers) this year. They’re big, but I haven’t cracked them yet. I have a Daniels and a few grafts of Neel that haven’t set and matured nuts yet. I grafted onto pretty good size volunteer rootstock, and my grafts have put on tremendous growth, very roughly something like 7’/year so far. I figure I’m way ahead of buying even the largest size grafted trees I could have bought, and that’s without having watered them once. Of course, I was only able to do what I did because I happened to already have established volunteer seedlings in good locations.


The late John H. Gordon indicated that seedlings of the ‘Elmer Myers’ cultivar tended to have very good timber-type growth habit.
20 years ago, I planted a row of named-parentage BW seedlings(from seednuts I brought home from KY NGA meeting) in a CRP riparian bufferstrip deal here on the farm. Trees began bearing in about 10 years… I’ve not sampled them extensively, but nut quality is far better than the average run-of-the-mill wild type BW… some may be as good or better than their seed parent… but likely also had a better-than-average pollen parent.

My friends at Nolin River NTN have, for a number of years, apparently had a hard time keeping up with demand… but they’re a small, family operation… and I was extremely saddened to hear of the passing of my sweet funny friend Lisa Brittain earlier this year to early-onset Alzheimers’ Disease.
I don’t know how her passing will affect the business going forward, but I’ll still highly recommend NRNTN as a source for grafted nut trees, even if it means a 1-2 year wait for desired varieties.


Thanks for sharing. That sounds like a great idea and working very well for you so far. In fact I do have a lot of wild Black Walnut growing here. I agree and will probably try to do what you have done. Collect scion wood of Thomas Meyer and Neel and graft onto some native BW.


Good information. So very Sad to hear of your friends passing at NLNTN. I did not know that.

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Lucky and Zaz, that list is one I wrote about 10 years ago. The original Thomas and Neel #1 are my hands down favorite trees for best production and best eating quality. Sparks 129 has gotten more productive as the trees have grown. I now rate it as better than average production though I can’t say what it will be like in another 10 years when the trees crowd.

For the deep south, Thomas and Neel #1 are hands down the best though they need a pollinator like Sparrow

For Iowa and Illinois, Sparrow, Sparks 127, Sparks 129, McGinnis, Emma K, and Sauber #1 are good starters

I have all of these varieties plus a few more and can provide scionwood. Send me a message in January.

			Nut producing walnuts trees

I spent hours on the phone calling people who grow black walnuts to find out which ones were recommended most consistently. This list is my write-up on the possibilities.

  1. Sparrow - a good quality, medium sized, rounded nut cracking out 28% to 32% kernel. It is a Protandrous early pollen source, which should be planted because most of the other top recommendations are protogynous. Nut quality is only medium but it produces strong seedlings. It is reported to be a consistently productive tree. The only reported flaw is that the kernel color is a bit mottled.

  2. Kwik Krop - an excellent quality flattened oval shaped nut that cracks out 25% to 28 % kernel. Nut is oval, oblate, dented with a unique shape. It is a well-known tree that has been propagated by Stark nursery for years. The only complaints are that the kernel percentage is a bit low and that the production consistency is not as good as could be asked for. Kernel color is white to tan, occasionally amber, excellent flavor, and cracks relatively easy.

  3. McGinnis - This is a small to medium sized nut with excellent kernel color and about 35% yield. It has two flaws in that kernel extraction can be relatively difficult and the flavor is not quite as good as for example Thomas. The ortet originated in Nebraska so hardiness should be excellent. It is reported to have very high anthracnose tolerance. Original tree was cut down age about 108 years and in poor health. Mr. Mcginnis had picked up the nuts from this tree since he was a young boy @70 years ago.

  4. Surprise - an excellent quality, precocious, productive, rounded nut cracking out about 35% kernel. Gerald Gardner found it growing as a seedling of some nuts brought from selected cultivars growing in Pennsylvania. This tree tends to grow fast with somewhat prostrate form making it a poor timber producer except when staked and carefully trained. It is a rapid grower under good conditions and can reach early production within 5 years. The ortet is thought to have been destroyed when the nursery row it was in was bulldozed out a few years ago. Its only significant flaw is a tendency to produce up to 10% blanks.

  5. Sauber #1 - Is a large nut of excellent quality and kernel crackout above 30%. Get graftwood from Bill Lane in Missouri. He got his trees from Mr. Sauber. Several people have propagated another tree possibly Daniels under the Sauber #1 name. While kernel quality is excellent, size is medium large. There are several other trees with the Sauber name. Sauber, Sauber#2, Sauber#3, etc. The best of the bunch is the Sauber#1 as obtained from Bill Lane.

  6. Emma K - a good quality nut cracking out about 35% with a distinctive oval shape. Has flaws in that nuts tend to hang on the tree after ripe and the kernel darkens quickly if not promptly harvested and hulled. The hulls are unusually hard to remove. Emma K is possibly a seedling of Ohio. Tree has spreading form so not adapted for timber production though it does grow rapidly and could be pruned and trained to meet timber objectives.

  7. S129 - An Archie Sparks selection, seedling of Hay #1(Thomas Myers), very vigorous tree, kernel crackout of 30% or more. Brian Sparks says the nuts are large and excellent quality though the tree may not be as productive as could be desired. This might make an excellent dual-purpose timber and nut-producing tree. Must be staked when young because it grows so fast it is often leaned over by wind. It can easily grow 7 feet in a year.

  8. Beck - A small nut with consistent production and good anthracnose tolerance. It is reported to do well in Indiana and other mid-western to eastern states. Bill Heiman reports it as one of the most consistently productive trees.

  9. Hay #1 - a good quality large nut with good anthracnose tolerance and good production. Has a tendency not to fill all the nuts and the kernel quality may be poor. Needs good soil and moisture conditions and full sunlight. Also propagated as Thomas Myers. Production consistency is poor in my opinion.

  10. Rowher - has excellent anthracnose tolerance and good nut quality but poor production. Often propagated but few people have producing trees. I have not seen any nuts so don’t know much about nut quality.

  11. Davidson - A large nut with reported excellent anthracnose tolerance but slight to very poor kernel quality. Kernel darkens rapidly if not handled properly. Gerald Gardner considers it one of the poorer quality nuts he has. May have the highest anthracnose tolerance of available cultivars.

  12. Ogden - A medium large nut of about 25% kernel. Is reputed to be one of the most productive trees available. Has fairly good anthracnose tolerance. It has potential breeding value because of its high production. It is not reported as being productive at all locations.

  13. Bowser - an excellent quality but small nut cracking 37% with easy kernel extraction. The only flaw with this tree is poor production. Not economic in a large planting. May be useful for someone wanting a backyard tree to produce high quality nuts.

  14. Thomas - a medium large nut with easy crackout of about 25% and and excellent flavor. Tends to alternate bear and is susceptible to anthracnose under high moisture conditions. This tree has very good breeding prospects. It was first propagated in the 1880’s from the ortet in Pennsylvania. Numerous misnomers propagated as Thomas since then. Has produced some excellent seedlings such as Hay #1. The tree is lateral branching and producing. I picked up 25 5gallon buckets of walnuts under a Thomas tree that was about 38 years old and 12 inches diameter. Be sure you have the original Thomas!

  15. Football II - a fair quality medium large nut that cracks well. It is susceptible to anthracnose and also to nut stress defoliation. This usually results in poor quality kernels. Excellent production and with irrigation, may be economic to grow. Highly recommended by Gerald Gardner though he acknowledges its anthracnose/defoliation problem. The ortet is thought to still be alive though access may be a bit difficult. May be valuable for breeding if crossed with an anthracnose resistant tree possibly Davidson?

  16. Rupert - Per Bill Reid, a small nut, productive tree, fair leaf disease tolerance.

  17. Farrington - A large nut with fair production and good leaf disease tolerance. Deserves to be propagated more than it has. I have not seen any nut samples.

  18. Mintle - (thought to be identical with brown nuggett) is a small nut that cracks out well but the kernels darken readily. It is reported as a poor selection in high rainfall areas such as the southeast. Does well in Iowa and other parts of the mid-west. Needs to be compared with Brown Nuggett to resolve the ongoing identity question.

  19. Eldora - Highly recommended in Iowa, consistent production, good leaf disease tolerance, similar to sparrow but slightly better quality.

  20. S127 - A small to medium sized nut that produces well in Iowa but tends to have lower kernel quality this far south. It has a high kernel percentage and fairly good cracking. Nut shape has some similarities to sparrow though totally unrelated. Kernel shape is more similar to Neel#1.

  21. Ozark King - Is a large nut with a thick shell cracking about 27% kernel with excellent kernel quality but poor production. Cracks well with a “mouse eared” shape to the kernel lobes. Tied with Bowser for highest quality kernel in my opinion. Best considered a backyard tree.

  22. Neel#1 - Selected by Robert Neel, Barboursville, WV. A very good oval nut with a unique shape. Good anthracnose tolerance, good production, excellent growth with a distinctive central leader and spreading branches. The flavor of this nut is comparable to and maybe slightly better than Thomas. Appears to be one of the best adapted trees in the Southeast. W. Donoho has several producing trees and Fred Blankenship has some in production by now. I consider this to be one of the trees I will definitely propagate for long term timber and nut production.

  23. Pounds#2 - Leon Pounds selection border of Kentucky and Indiana. Thought to be a second generation Thomas seedling. Good production of good quality nuts with slightly higher kernel percentage than Thomas. Not enough known to reach definite conclusions. The nut samples I looked at were very good though not above 31% kernel.

  24. Wiard - Richard Goldner in Michigan highly recommends this tree. It is an older cultivar with a small nut. It is susceptible to anthracnose that is probably exacerbated by its high production. May have breeding value especially for trees to grow further north. This tree may be difficult to find. Perhaps should get graftwood from Mr. Goldner if possible.

  25. S147 - also an Archie Sparks selection as a seedling of Hay#1. It has high kernel percentage, good kernel quality, and a large nut. Tree grows fairly fast with acceptable timber form. I am evaluating this one for possible commercial production of nuts.

  26. Vandersloot - an older cultivar with very large but thick shelled nuts 25% to 28% kernel. The tree is reported as a rapid grower with good production though it is susceptible to anthracnose and stress defoliation.

  27. Todd - Original tree found by McDaniels in Ohio. Produces a very large nut with good kernel percent. Has not been propagated to any significant extent.

  28. Cannonball - Reported to produce nuts 4 times larger than Thomas with over 30% kernel. Ortet found near Wilson, NC. Potential unknown because nobody has trees growing.

  29. Ohio - reported as a thin shelled good quality nut with good anthracnose tolerance. An older cultivar that has been pretty much supplanted by later selections. There may be 3 different trees making the rounds as Ohio.

  30. Stabler - Produces some to all nuts with a single lobe. Reported very good flavor and quality if under excellent care but is susceptible to anthracnose.

  31. Clermont - Produces an excellent quality thin shelled nut. Original tree long since cut down. Per Archie Sparks, there are 4 different trees being propagated as Clermont. One may be a misnamed Myers.

  32. Myers - aka Elmer Myers is a good quality thin shelled but small nut. The tree is reputed to have excellent anthracnose tolerance but is not productive especially north of Missouri.

  33. Burns - A very small thin shelled nut with exceptional crackout. Reported productive into Ontario.

  34. Cranz - A fairly recent selection with reported excellent production in Iowa.

  35. Deming Purple - Selected for its purple foliage in spring.

  36. El Tom - A cross of Elmer Myers and Thomas.

  37. Grundy - An Iowa selection. NNGA annual reports have numerous articles.

  38. Harney - An older selection still in propagation.

  39. Tom Boy - Found growing (about 5 trees out of about 200 planted) as a supposed grafted Thomas tree by Bill Lane. The tree leafs out earlier than Thomas and is more regularly productive.

  40. Shessler - Found by Sylvester Shessler as a seedling of Tritten. A moderately good quality nut.

  41. Stanek - medium quality nuts, relatively low kernel percentage.


Extraordinary report @Fusion_power. Extremely helpful and reliable source of information all of us can use for years into the future. Thank you Sir!!

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Do you think I’m correct to assume that if I have plenty of wild black walnuts in my area that I can assume any black walnuts I graft will be well pollinated?

And if I told you I wasn’t so much concerned about production – I’ve frequently collected more nuts than I’ve found time to crack anyway – but wanted a tree that would do as well as possible in zone 7 North Carolina without basically any care (no spray, no irrigation, basically no fertilization) and crack out efficiently using a one-at-a-time lever-style nut cracker – not necessarily especially thin shelled but with larger nuts that released a high percentage of large pieces with the first crack – would you have any particular recommendations for those particular criteria?

So far I have grafted 3 trees of Thomas Myers, 3 of Neel (which I assume is the same as Neel #1), and 1 of Daniels, which may already be more trees than I need, especially once they reach full production, but I’d be interested in grafting additional varieties just to wind up with two or three trees that would serve my needs best.

Do you have a graft of Cannonball yourself? A large nut originating in my own state sounds very interesting.

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I got Cannonball scionwood from the guy who found the tree back about 1996. I was unsuccessful getting a live graft.

If you have Neel #1, get Thomas and Pounds #2. They will do outstandingly well in just about any zone 7 location with decent soil.

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I have very little experience with black walnuts but it is in S.E. NY state and Surprise was a surprise. Very precocious and very good nuts. It started producing on about the third year after I planted a good-sized bare root tree. 18 years later and I’m still waiting for a couple of grafted northern pecans from the same nursery to crop. Last year they produced a handful of nuts.

Thanks for that updated and extensive write-up, FP.

IIRC, some years back, Leon Pounds or Les Wilmoth had a batch of Pounds#2 nuts that cracked out 55%kernel… but there may have been something special about growing conditions that year…I dunno.

Clermont has the thinnest shell I’ve ever seen on a BW. Easily damaged during husk removal, if you’re using a mechanical dehusker.