For one week only, we are retiring The Market Report to bring you The Nut Report. Because: ‘Tis the season. Our first stop is Jim Russell, who has a grove of 200 macadamia trees on six acres in Fallbrook, California.
These days, Russell and his farmworkers go out once or twice a week to gather the macadamias that fall to the ground. Russell says this year’s yield won’t break any records: “In June, we had a major heat wave. My trees had a great set but they dumped about half of their nuts. So I’m going to have a shortened stay at the market because my crop is severely limited.”
Next, Laura Avery swings by the Kennedy Family Farm stand. Ken Kennedy begins his harvest in early October. Believe it or not, birds help signal when the nuts are ripe enough to be picked. “When those nuts get ripe, the crows will start cawing and the bluejays will start chattering. And you better get in there because they’ll eat eight or ten pounds of nuts a day,” Kennedy says.
Kennedy says his crop will also be short because he didn’t want to sap his community’s water supply and overpump: “We’ve lost a few walnut trees. But as an English walnut tree disappears or dies, usually the black walnut rootstock survives. They’re pretty hearty so I cultivate those and bring the black walnut up.” If you’ve never had them, Kennedy says black walnuts are more flavorful than English walnuts. This year, the oils and flavors will be more concentrated because his trees had to produce nuts with less water.