Pine Nuts?

bart1(6/7 Northern VA)January 14, 2012

This might not be the proper place to ask this question, but I know there are a bunch home grown food "nuts" in here so I figured I'd ask.....

Does anyone grow pine nuts for use in the kitchen? I need to plant a couple pines for screening purposes and if I can get some supplies to make pesto, all the better.

Have you have success?

Is it worth it?

What trees are best?



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I have an Italian stone pine (pinus pinea) that I got on sale in the Christmas section at Lowe's after Christmas. I planted it in 2010 and it survived the last two winters which were pretty hard by local standards. My understanding is that they take decades to start bearing.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 8:45AM
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The Pinion Pine (dont know if its spelled right) grows wild in west texas and puts out alot of pine nuts. Its sounds like PIN-YON PINE whan pronounced. We have a bunch of them on our deer lease and they are easy to spot because the hogs root all under them for nuts. Me and my son will sometimes grab a few ripe cones and snack on them in the deer blind. Dont know if they are sold in nurserys or not. They produce at a young age also! Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 8:31PM
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The options seem to be pinyon pines or one of the stone pines. Both are slow growing. Pinyons being more of a tall shrub than a typical pine tree. The stone pines are a full sized but slow growing pine.

A few places have Korean Stone Pines for sale (1' saplings, so it's going to be a decade or two before nuts). Many places carry Pinyons especially out west (I get them from my state forest service). Same size, and probably as long a wait for nuts.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 10:24PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Bart, at some point I looked into growing them where I am. Here are some notes I wrote down.

Several pine trees can produce good nuts: Chinese white pine, Korean pine, Italian Stone Pine, etc.
Two trees are needed for nuts.
Don't know anyone growing these in Maryland for nuts so don't know disease and other potential problems.
White pine blister rust is a problem but Korean pine is resistant to it.
Overall the Korean Pine is considered the best shot at getting nuts.
Most of the producing nut pines are not native to the US and special soil innoculants are supposedly needed to get them the fungi they need for good growth.
Trees take about 10 years before they come into bearing.
Cones take several years to form seeds but new cones form each year.
Cones are picked off the ground after they fall and are air dried for a week to release the nuts. Squirrels will get most of the nuts if the crop is small.

Floyd, if you have only one tree you may not get any nuts. After I did the above research I was actually pretty positive on growing a Korean pine but I didn't have any room for two big pine trees and that was the end of that.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 9:10AM
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Charles Rhora may be the most experienced pine nut guy in eastern North America, and offers a number of different species from his nursery.
He makes some claims that specific mycorrhizal fungi are necessary for optimum growth and production on some or all of these pine species.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rhora's Nut Tree Nursery - Edible pine nut pines.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 12:13PM
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Scott, you've got me worried now. I can plant another stone pine if I need to, but I was thinking I didn't. Rhora's site, that Lucky just gave us the link to says the following: "We recommend that you plant at least two trees of each variety to increase production, but one need only plant one tree and expect to harvest a good crop of nuts." It seems like there's conflicting information. Can someone clarify or help me understand?

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 1:21PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Floyd, looking at the site Lucky linked, the thing you are quoting is not for pine nuts but other nuts (at least thats the way it looks to me). Looking again at my notes, the need for two I got from the following quote, which is in the linked document below. I just copied that down so I don't know how important it is.

Italian Stone Pine (Pinus pinea)- 30- 70 ft tall and 30- 60 ft wide, umbrella-shaped tree produces sweet pine nuts (14% protein, 68% fat) in a 5 inch cone. Cones open when left in direct sunlight. Nuts high in Cu, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Zn, B vitamins, vit E and K. Sun-lover. Needs well-drained soil. Tolerant of heat, drought, and wind. Flammable. Easy to grow. Need two for nuts. Zone 9 only. Susceptible to oak root fungus, otherwise disease and deer-resistant. Allelopathic. Flowers May- June, ripens April. Propagated by seed (yields in ten years).


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 1:28PM
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bart1(6/7 Northern VA)

Thanks folks! Great stuff as usual.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 11:07AM
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Scott, thanks for heads up. I wish you were wrong, but it sure looks like I'm going to need to find another tree to plant if I want nuts. Much better to find out now than when my tree is ready to bear. It's about two inches in diameter now and about 5 feet tall. I wonder if I can find a freebie anywhere. Someone probably still has a potted Christmas tree somewhere that they'd be happy to get rid of.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 5:20PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

pines are conifers.. and there is a conifer forum .... and i have not seen many of the conifer experts in the fruit forum ....

so if you wish to broaden the spectrum of knowledge.. you might pop in over there..

otherwise.. i care not where you post..

good luck


    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 9:12AM
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Although a number of different nurseries sell various "nut pines", it has always seemed like wishful thinking to me to plant one for nut production because:
1. They generally would take a long time to come into bearing
2. They generally don't produce a crop every year

Here in NM, the Colorado Pinyon Pine (Pinus edulis) is arguably the most common tree, covering a large portion of the state's middle elevations. You can find the native pine nuts for sale at any time because they store very well, but there is a widespread bumper crop only about once or twice in ten years. At those times you can find the nuts scattered under the trees well into the winter, or sometimes even the spring.

So, here, in other words, it would not make sense to plant these pines, since we are surrounded by wild ones that we just have to take advantage of when they do bear. In places lacking these species, it could be a wonderful long term investment, although I don't get the feeling that many folks are doing it. I think the reason most of the commercial pine nuts come from China these days has to do with the cost of labor.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 11:44AM
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crhora(z5 ON,Canada)

There are up to 12 varieties of edible nut pines that produce commerical size nuts, which are hardy from climatic zones 1 - 9.
All but 3 are not native to North America. The korean pine produces the largest size nuts - about the size of a kidney bean.
Once bearing begins (between 6 - 8 years) they continually bear good crops of nuts each year. Each cone contains upwards from 60 - 90 nuts per cone. They do need at least 2 trees for cross pollination before they will bear cones.
We import millions of dollars worth of these nuts from other countries. Why? When they will grow here.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 12:07PM
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In the research I've done, it looks like the Siberian pine might be the most adaptable to Ohio zone 6 soils and conditions, but one tree is $30 (Canadian) at Rhora's, the only place I can find seedlings. I do not trust my ability to sprout seeds. I've emailed them to make sure they are still in business, since I've found some websites are still up when businesses have long closed; and about the price adjustment into U.S. dollars. I have yet to hear back. I also wonder if anyone has had any luck planting pinyon pines, namely pinus monophylla, in Ohio or in zone 6.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 10:45AM
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I think this is truly a (rare) case of: "if it were possible and economically feasible, somebody would have done it long ago".

Southwestern nut pines won't thrive outside of this area. Asian and European species might work but still take a long time to bear and have incredibly hard shells that require mechanical equipment to process. All are very labor (cost) intensive to harvest, not to mention to plant, irrigate, and wait to bear.

This is why I love the wild native species here in the SW so much!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 4:23PM
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It appears there are several varieties of pine nut trees that have been raised successfully here. I think the main deterrent is the dollar investment and the time it takes to bear. No irrigation needed where I live. I just transplanted a small pine growing somewhere I did not want it to, today (picture included). You would be surprised about what grows in the southwest that might grow in the east, with a few considerations. I just posted 62 pictures on my FB page of native species from a walk in the woods today. I have successfully exchanged a number of items, with a little talk-through on specifics by knowledgeable people here. If it is possible, I'm willing to give it a go.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 4:52PM
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