Cashing in on Black Walnuts

Doug Berger/Herald Black walnut collection at an Ava hulling station came to the end of the season last week.

The annual tradition of gathering wild black walnuts is coming to an end for this year. Numbers of processed nuts at hulling stations have been lower than anticipated in some areas.

Hulling stations have been processing the gathered nuts since early October. Almost all the gathered nuts in Missouri are processed through hulling stations affiliated with Hammons Black Walnuts in Stockton.

The Hammons company, which has been processing black walnuts for 73 years, has approximately 230 hulling stations in 13 states. Missouri usually produces about 65 percent of the harvest, the company indicated on its website.

Hammons indicated in an earlier report it had not seen a big crop of trees in southern Missouri. The company reported on October 29 it had received eight million pounds of walnuts. The company at that time had a goal for the season of 15 million pounds.

Persons gathering the nuts were receiving $16 per pound.

Along with the nut meat, the walnuts provide a wide variety of products including use in oil filtration and for cleaning abrasives.

Eric Smith, who closed down his collection station in Ava last week, indicated that the location processed approximately 100,000 pounds of nuts. He pointed out the number will vary considerably each year. In 2013, during his first year of operating a collection location, he processed 265,000 pounds. His second year saw 10,000 pounds processed. In 2016 he came the closest to the 2013 level with approximately 225,000 pounds of nuts processed. He feels it takes about 150,000 pounds of nuts to be a good year and worth the trouble of doing.

The interest in collecting the nuts seems to have slowed down, Smith indicated. Many of the loads have come from people picking up the nuts in town locations, and some of the bigger loads come from older persons.