Wild Black Walnut Harvest Coming To A Close

GENTRY, Ark. (KFSM) — The wild black walnut harvest is an Ozark tradition, but the season is almost over.

Those lucky enough to find them could make some extra money as prices are higher than usual this year.

Employees at Curran Feed Store in Gentry are bagging what’s left of the wild black walnuts.

People come from all over to get the green outer husk removed.

“We get them from small ages to elderly people will bring them in. Everybody just seems to enjoy it, getting out, picking them up, and getting a little money while they’re doing it," said Dustin Ash, a Curran Feed Store employee.

Black walnut trees are native to the area, making them easy to find.

“Some people drive up and down the roads honestly. They’re scattered here, there, and everywhere throughout this area," Ash said.

This season the harvest has been lucrative. Curran’s hulling more than 40,000 pounds so far.

“It’s messy, it’s dirty, but it’s fun. The people that come in they appreciate what you’re doing, and they show. It’s worth it," said Michael Porter, with Curran Feed Store.

Chains inside a particular machine break the hull, and what’s left is shipped to Hammon Products in Missouri for shelling, packaging, and distribution to stores around the country.

Fans of black walnuts describe them as nutritious and bold tasting, and for some families, it’s a tradition to use them in baking during the holidays.

“I’m going to crack them. The grandkids are going to be helping me. Give the kids like a quart of black walnuts and maybe some to crack on their own to bake with and make Christmas fudge and walnut cakes," Kattie Peck of Springdale said.

It’s 16-cents a pound for black walnuts, 100 pounds earns you about $16, and no part of this nut goes to waste.

“They also take the hard hull on the outside that encapsulates the nut, and they grind it and use it as sandblasting media," Ash said.

The harvest usually begins at the beginning of October and lasts through the about the second week of November.

If you can’t find the black walnuts in the wild right now, you can still pick up a bag at most grocery stores.

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