Black Walnut named varieties


Any recommended cultivars for my z5 Maine location? Cold hardiness and early ripening are the main attributes I would look for…thanks!


I just cracked one of my Thomas Myers nuts and I was very impressed. Besides being significantly larger than any wild black walnut I’ve ever cracked before, the shell wasn’t too thick, and it cracked out very easily. It helped that the nut meat wasn’t all the way dry yet, which made it more flexible, but I was able to get the entire nut meat out in one piece, which I’ve never been able to do with a black walnut before. Normally I consider it really good if I can get each of the 4 lobes out more or less whole without having to crack each quarter in the nut cracker separately.


Maine would be tough. McGinnis, Burns, and Weschke would be first choices. Possibly more important would be the rootstock they are grafted onto. It would be nice if you could get some McGinnis nuts to plant as rootstocks. Check with Ernie Grimo since he carries some of the better far northern cultivars.


St. Lawrence Nursery in Potsdam NY(zone 3) has, in the past, offered cold-hardy seedling BWs… I think what they’re currently offering are mostly WeschkeXBicentennial, but at one time there were several other named selections in the trees Fred Ashworth and Bill MacKentley had collected through the years.


But when it comes to just minimal work (relatively easy cracking, not too many nook and crannies from where to extract the meat) which ones are best? Because wild ones are better than english W, but a total pain to handle.


Thomas is supposed to be very high quality and very cold hardy according to SSE. Suitable for the North.


The easiest to crack that I have grown are Pounds #2, Thomas, and Neel #1 in that order. It also helps a lot that they are very good flavored walnuts.

If you get one of Fred Blankenship’s crackers, Stoker is super easy to crack.


Thought I’d share the lineage of ‘Pounds 2’.
(“Thomas Seedling” x Elmer Myer) selected by Leon Pounds.

In 1998 Fred Blankenship entered 1-year old nuts in a contest (Kentucky Nut Growers I presume) and even with the nuts being a year old it took first place. I’m not sure how point systems work but Fred said it received 250 points from the individuals basing point values to the submissions. After the contest, which blew the minds of the judges because they had never seen a B.walnut crack like that, Fred said several of the judges approached him stating it was really a 500 points nut. I was to assume 500 was the maximum point value at that contest as I listened to Fred tell the story over the phone.

Fred had visited Leon Pounds the year earlier and Leon directed him to that seedling origin tree and that’s basically the story how ‘Pounds 2’ came into existence.

Leon Pounds has since deceased.



Great story! Thanks for sharing Dax.


The amount of information regarding BW named varieties in this thread is tremendous.
One variety (maybe its new) the Black Gem from Stark Bro’s. Anyone have any data whatsoever on this one?


Had not seen that one before, and have heard nothing about it.
Stark is infamous for taking named cultivars and giving them their own ‘Starking this’ or ‘Starkilicious that’ moniker. Sometimes they’ll own up with small print saying something like, “Osterman cultivar” or the like.


I’ve had too many experiences with Stark praising an otherwise mediocre cultivar to trust their recommendations. They sold Kwik Krop for a lot of years yet IMO, Thomas is a much better variety with similar adaptation.

I picked up walnuts yesterday with some interesting results. Squirrels show decided preference for Neel #1, Pounds #2 and Sparks 129. They got at least half the crop from these trees. Thomas was phenomenal with an average of 4 buckets per tree for trees planted in 1998 and grafted in 2001 or thereabouts. My bucket holds 7 gallons.

After a few years growing walnuts, it becomes easy to tell which trees will be consistently high producers. Farrington and Cranz are strong contenders. I’ve got to put some time into figuring out if the nuts are worth the effort. Thomas is the hands down winner with Neel #1 close second for total nuts produced. Both varieties are annual producers year in and year out. McGinnis is a very heavy producer, but tends to alternate more than I like. Emma K produced a good crop, but the nuts are difficult to de-husk.


This is a phenomenal thread. Thanks everyone! Does anyone have any experience or thoughts on Neel #1, Thomas or Pounds #2 in zone 8B?

I just remembered Burnt Ridge Nursery offers scion wood on a couple of named cultivars of black walnuts. With the prevalence of thousand cankers disease in that state, I worry about purchasing scion wood from them.


“Emma K produced a good crop, but the nuts are difficult to de-husk.”
The only black walnuts I have de-husked so far are the native ones. Are the Emma Ks as difficult as those?


I’ll have to give a different comparison than vs native walnuts. Thomas and Neel #1 both fall free of the husk with relatively little tissue attachment to the shell. Emma K has sharp ridges on the shell with husk tissue firmly attached to them. A tire type husker crushes the husk on Neel #1 and Thomas and the husk separates from the nut with the exception of some tissue at the base of the nut. Emma K has tissue attached all over the surface of the nut. If you use a pressure washer, the tissue can be removed fairly easily from Thomas and Neel #1 but it takes several minutes to force out the tissue in the crevices of Emma K.

I’ve had good results using pressurized water to wash walnuts once the husks are removed. One of these days I’ll design a pressure washing system to clean my walnuts.

BambooMan, I don’t know for sure how Thomas and Neel #1 would do in your climate. Growing them would be the best way to find out. Do some due diligence re Farrington which is another decent walnut that appears to like a long growing season.


Can any translate this?

I emailed Stark Bros this question. Can you give me more information on your Black Walnut Black Gem tree. Can you tell me what it is crossed with genetically? What are its parents?
Their response:
Thank you for your inquiry. The Stark Black Gem Walnut tree:
Genus: Juglans Species: nigra Cultivar: Wilson

So a Stark Black Walnut Black Gem is a seedling from a Wilson named variety. Is this safe to assume?


The translation is that Stark Black Gem is the Stark marketing name for the Wilson cultivar. It is not a seedling of Wilson, it is Wilson.


Gotcha, thanks. I guess that was kind of obvious. It begs the question though, why not just call it a Wilson? Yeah I get it, marketing etc.

Update #1 And after searching the internet for hours I can’t find a single bit of literature regarding a “Wilson” Black Walnut variety.

Update #2 I pressed Starks for more info. This was their response. 9E7CB61C-A74C-4F4E-9A82-7748A29C8D42


I’m growing Placentia …


Looking good. I saw that earlier in the year Richard. How long until it is expected to produce?