You are here:

Trees/hickory seed planting


im in the process of adding new trees to my farms shelterbelt and want to add some hickory trees.  I am located in south east south dakota and it is on the border of zone 4-5.    so i got ahold of 50 shagbark hickory seeds and would like to plant them this fall before it snows.  from what i understand, there is no need to completely dry the nuts prior to planting them if you are doing it in the fall.   is this correct?  and plant them about 1 inch deep in loosened soil.  and mulch them over winter.  is it that simple?    

similar question regarding black walnuts as well.   i have a two boxes of black walnuts, one box that i picked over a month ago and have allowed to dry, and i have one box that i picked last week and have not dried out.  do u just plant them with the shells?  i've read conflicting reports as to shells or no shells.  i'd prefer to plant with shells as i have a few hundred to plant.       thank you for the help!


Nuts can be planted with husks, but are easier to handle and sort for viability if husks are removed. The husk is the outer covering and the shell is the hard covering.Do not crack the shell but do remove the husks. Collect nuts as soon as they fall and immediately remove husks using one of these methods:

   Place nuts in a bucket of water to soften and then peel the husks by hand.
   Place nuts in a hand-operated corn sheller.
   Place nuts in a small cement mixer along with gravel, cover with water, and rotate for 20 to 30 minutes.

Wear clothing and gloves for protection from stain in the husks. After removing husks, rinse nuts in water. Place the husked black walnut seeds in a bucket of water. Soak them overnight to determine which are viable. Discard any walnuts that float to the surface. Sow the walnuts that sink to the bottom; nuts that sink have full kernels and are more likely to germinate.

Walnut seeds require stratification (cold treatment) before they will germinate. Small quantities of nuts can be stratified in a plastic bag in a refrigerator at 34 to 41° Fahrenheit for 90 to 120 days. To stratify large numbers of walnuts for spring planting, dig a pit, spread out the nuts, and cover them with 1 to 2 feet of sand, leaves, or mulch. Cover the pit with screening to keep out rodents.

When the ground thaws in spring, dig up the nuts and plant 1 to 2 inches deep in the prepared site. Plant two nuts at each planting spot. About half the nuts will germinate in four to five weeks. Additional nuts may germinate the following year. Remove excess seedlings to allow adequate growing space.


Almost do the same for hickory as walnuts, Remove the husks, place the husked Hickory seeds in a bucket of water. Soak them overnight to determine which are viable. Discard any seeds nuts that float to the surface. Sow the hickory seeds  that sink to the bottom; nuts that sink have full kernels and are more likely to germinate. Stratify as you do the walnuts as above.

Then in the spring plant the nuts where you want the seedlings to grow.  


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Jim Hyland


I am an expert in Forestry, Forest Entomology, Forest Pest Control, and Forest Health. Extensive knowledge in Identification of insects and diseases of trees. Expert on Bark beetles and other insects that attack forests. Also a Registrated Forester with extensive knowledge in the management and care of forests.


34 years as State Pest Management Chief in a Southern state. Extensive knowledge in Forestry.

BS with major in Forest Management and Entomology
Registered Forester
Certified Pesticide Appicator

©2017 All rights reserved.