Did you know Ohio is one of the largest nut-producing states in the union, and that black walnuts represent a large section of this area?
But well before hulled nuts are chopped and dropped into a bowlful of batter, those walnuts have to be gathered. That can be a back-stressing or knee-stressing — depending on how you get your arms to ground level — exercise.
Be not dismayed.
The Ohio Nut Growers Association (ONGA) has the ideal tool for gathering walnuts. It was recently demonstrated at the Farm Science Review in Madison County by ONGA member Vicki Rusmisel.
It’s called the nut wizard.
The tool is a group of wires, gathered on each end and take the shape of a rugby ball. To demonstrate, Rusmisel tossed some whole nuts on the ground. The only difference was these nuts already had their outer hull removed.
As she rolled the nut wizard along the ground, she pressed down on the handle. The wires began to separate and create an opening into which the walnuts were collected. When the wire basket becomes full, she takes the tool to a five-gallon bucket which is fitted with a heavy wire device on the lip called the dumper.
She positions the nut wizard parallel to the dumper and allows it to pass inside the basket. Then she gives the nut wizard a twist. It forces open the wires and the collected walnuts dump into the bucket.
The dumper and the nut wizard together are $45.
There is a place in central Ohio to sell black walnuts, which are currently bringing 14 cents a pound in the hull, said Joe Hietter, proprietor of Nut N’ Horse Farms in Pataskala.
He will take walnuts, still in their green hulls, up through Nov. 1.
Hietter has a device to remove the green outer hulls. Once hulled the nuts are weighed to determine the payment on the load. A full size pickup is about $65 to $110. On average, the amount paid for a five-gallon bucket of black walnuts with hulls is about 75 cents to $1.10.
Hietter’s hours are noon to 6 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Other days and times are available by appointment or for an especially large haul (a full truck load or more). Call Hietter at 614-218-4529.
Dean Shipley can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617, on Facebook at Dean Shipley or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.