Why nuts for New York State? We broadly support the reasoning presented by the New York Tree Crops Alliance on this topic.
Where the path taken by Black Squirrel Farms has diverged from others similarly motivated who are acting in this space is simply about where the starting line is best drawn. Our company has taken the view that the first order of business should be to figure out how to use black walnuts, the nut crop that already grows in New York. Black walnuts are difficult and messy to process compared with other nuts and produce a lot more shell than nutmeat. Others are actively engaged in increasing the amount of hazelnuts and chestnuts grown in state and have figured that the best place to start is to plant as quickly as possible. This approach also makes sense.
While New York doesn’t have a nut industry of notable scale, it clearly has a climate suitable for growing nuts and is expected to continue to have a climate which supports nut production. While some traditional nut producing areas of the world may be poised for a production decline due to either disease pressure or anticipated water limitations, nut production New York state is poised for growth. It’s too early to predict the details of what that growth might look like but it’s not too early to identify nut growing in New York as a future growth industry generally. It’s difficult to credibly imagine a global oversupply of nuts. All indications are that demand is outpacing supply.
From this location, its clear that black walnuts and hazelnuts can thrive in close proximity. We think that black walnuts are the first step in developing a New York nut industry and will be shortly followed by hazelnuts as a next step. We hope that the next steps will become obvious as we travel down the path of increased reliance on perennial plants.