Walnut shortage must just be a ‘London problem’

There appears to be a shortage of fruit this year on the walnut trees here in London in Madison County.

My friend Connie is an avid runner, and fallen walnuts are a safety hazard during morning jogs on city sidewalks. Needless to say, she keeps a keen eye out for the little suckers when autumn comes.

This year, she’s hardly seen a nut – either on sidewalks or on the walnut trees in her backyard. She hasn’t seen any during her runs around town, either.

She called the other morning in complete exasperation, hoping either me or my contacts at the Ohio DNR would have an answer to the walnut shortage.

I checked with the DNR Division of Forestry folks – specifically Don Karas, one of the most knowledgeable people in the division – about the missing (or absent) walnuts.

Without doing more investigation, Karas said it is likely that London suffered a late patch of frost last spring. The frost descended just about the time the city’s walnut trees bloomed. As a result, the blooms were stunted and the fruit (in this case nuts) never formed.

He said walnuts appear plentiful in his neighborhood and elsewhere in the state. So, the lack of nuts locally is probably just a “London problem.”

Of course, Karas noted that there are some extreme environmental types that will insist the trees and local wildlife whisper to each other. The trees may have heard there are simply too many grey squirrels running the streets and sidewalks of London. As a result, the trees have taken steps to curb squirrel numbers by reducing their food supply for the upcoming winter.

Karas doesn’t buy that explanation and neither do I.

Regardless, my friend Connie is concerned there will be no walnuts for future black walnut cakes. Her mother, a spunky 93-year-old named Mavis, traditionally bakes a black walnut cake for Connie’s birthday in late October. Mavis gathers and dries the nuts herself from local trees.

This year’s cake will depend on walnuts gathered last fall when an abundance fell. So, there’s no need to worry right away.

But the 2019 birthday cake just might be in jeopardy!

Categories: Ohio – Jane Beathard

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