Nut Production

Course CodeBHT219
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Commercial Nut Growing or Home Nut Plant Growing

Nuts have some distinct advantages over other crops:

  • Long shelf life (so you don't need to sell them quickly) or use costly storage or processing to extend the marketing period
  • High in protein - nutritionally intensive foods.
  • Nuts can be grown in most parts of the world - there are species suited to a variety of climates.
  • Nuts are an exceptionally valuable food crop that can be harvested and stored for long periods and can also be processed into a variety of products. These characteristics make them particularly useful for commercial growers, for the home gardener, or those striving towards self sufficiency.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments and if necessary, extra reading.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • What is a Nut
    • Identifying Plants Accurately
    • Classification of Nuts into their Plant Families
    • Juglanaceae,
    • Coylaceae,
    • Fagaceae,
    • Burseraceae,
    • Lecthidaceae
    • Sterculiaceae
    • Rosaceae
    • Pinaceae
    • Anacardiaceae, etc
    • Review of Botany of Nuts: flowers and fruit development
    • Resources
  2. The Most Commonly Grown Varieties
    • Overview of Nut Culture
    • Comparing most common nuts
    • Terminology
    • Almond
    • American Hazlenut
    • Cashew Peanut
    • Walnut
    • Macadamia
  3. Culture of Nuts
    • Site Selection and Management
    • Soils
    • Soil Testing
    • Water Management
    • Nutrition and Feeding
    • Plant Health: pest and disease, protection from wind, salt, air, etc
    • Common problems with different types of nuts
    • Planting
    • Terminology
    • Weed Management
    • Pruning
  4. Less Common Nuts
    • Pecan
    • Pistacio
    • Pine Nuts
    • Auraucaria
    • Chestnut
    • Filbert
    • Brazil Nut
    • Beech
    • Oak
    • Sunflower
    • Pili Nut
    • Cola Nut
    • Cocao
    • Hausa Groundnut
    • Acacia, and more
  5. Propagation
    • Seed Propagation of Nuts
    • Cuttings
    • Layering
    • Grafting
    • Propagating Corylus
    • Propagating Pinus
    • Propagating aids and structures
  6. Harvest and Post-harvest of Nuts
    • Harvesting
    • Cleaning, Cracking and Shelling
    • Drying and Storage
    • Handling Almonds
    • Cashews
    • Chestnuts
    • Pine nuts
    • Walnuts
    • Hazlenuts
    • Pistacios
  7. Marketing Nuts
    • Overview
    • Where to sell nuts
    • Marketing Processes
    • Market Research
    • Uses of Nuts: Food and other uses
  8. Workplace Health, Safety and Risk Management
    • Duty of Care
    • Risk Assessment in a Horticultural Enterprise
    • Financial Risks
    • Keeping the Workplace Safe
    • Protective Clothing
    • Equipment Safety (Tools and Machinery)
    • Safety with Manual Handling and lifting
  9. Special Assignment
    • PBL Project Develop a plan for growing selected varieties of nuts in a specific location

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Identify different nut crop varieties.
    • Determine the cultivation practices appropriate to a range of different nut crops.
    • Determine how to propagate a range of different nut plants.
    • Determine appropriate techniques for harvesting a nut crop.
    • Specify an appropriate post-harvest treatment for a nut crop.
    • Develop marketing strategies for nuts.

What You Will Do

  • Distinguish between common and scientific perceptions of the term nut.
  • Compare the botanical characteristics of the fruits from different nut genera.
  • Describe the botanical classification of different species of nut plants, including where appropriate, botanical interrelationships.
  • Prepare plant reviews of different nut varieties, including the following details on each plant:
    • Plant names (Common and scientific)
    • A photo, illustration or pressed specimen
    • Cultural details
    • Harvest & Post-harvest
    • Uses (e.g. valuable products).
  • Develop a resource file of fitems of information relevant to the nut growing industry, including:
    • Suppliers of nut plants
    • Trade or grower associations
    • Publications
  • Perform simple tests on different soils to determine:
    • Soil type
    • pH
    • Drainage
    • Water holding capacity
  • Evaluate different soils tested in 2.1 to determine nut varieties suitable for growing in each.
  • Explain soil management requirements for different nut varieties, including:
    • Nutrition
    • Soil structure
    • Physical attributes
  • Explain the control of different pests and diseases on ten different nut varieties.
  • Develop guidelines for the culture of a specified variety of nut, in your locality, including:
    • Watering
    • Weed control
    • Soil management
    • Fertilising
    • Pest control
    • Disease control
  • Prepare a twelve month plan for cultural practices on a specified nut plantation.
  • Explain different methods of propagating different nut species, including:
    • Seed
    • Grafting
    • Layering
    • Cuttings
  • Determine propagation methods for fifteen different nut species, including where applicable, rootstock variety names.
  • Demonstrate how to prepare cuttings for two different nut species.
  • Demonstrate three different types of grafts, suitable for propagating nut varieties.
  • Determine seed germination procedures for ten different nut genera.
  • Prepare a production schedule, for nursery production of a specified type of nut.
  • Propagate different nut plant varieties.
  • Explain the operation of a mechanical harvester which can be used for nuts.
  • Determine when to harvest different specified nut species.
  • Compare the efficiency of four different techniques for harvesting nuts.
  • Describe two different storage techniques for a specified nut variety.
  • Determine the optimum environmental conditions for the storage of three different nut species.
  • Evaluate three different samples of nuts, which have been stored using three different techniques.
  • Determine the commercial processing techniques used for five specified nut species.
  • Explain post-harvest handling of a specified nut species, by a commercial plantation in a specified locality.
  • Determine different ways in which nuts can be consumed.
  • Compare different ways nuts are packaged for retailing, with reference to different factors including:
    • Physiological impact on the nut
    • Cost of packaging
    • Presentation
  • Explain the marketing of different specified nut products, in your locality.
  • Develop a marketing plan for one specified type of nut.

What Nuts are Edible?

The review below demonstrates just how diverse this subject can be:

Family Juglandaceae
Includes the following genera:
1.  Carya (includes hickory, pecan and mountain walnut)
2.  Juglans (walnuts)

Note: the Oleaceae and Lauraceae families include several trees including some which are also know as walnuts.

Family characteristics: pinnate leaves, Leaves normally opposite, Buds over winter are brown and hairy, male and female flowers are separate but occur on same plant, Male flowers are a pendulous catkin, female flowers look quite different. Ovary is inferior.

Family Corylaceae
Includes the genus Corylus (filbert and hazelnut)

Family characteristics: deciduous trees or shrubs; leaves are simple (undivided) alternately arranged on the stem, Male and female flowers are separate but occur on the same plant: male flowers form a pendulant catkin; female flower is commonly a bud like structure with a tuft of styles extending from the top. Ovary is inferior.

Family Fagaceae
Includes the genera:
1.  Castanea (chestnut)
2.  Fagus (beech)
3.  Quercus (oak)

Family characteristics: leaves are simple, usually arranged alternate and occasionally whorled along the stems; for most, male and female flowers are separate but occur on the same plant; male flowers have five or more stamens. Ovary is inferior. Female flowers usually have three styles and three carpels (sometimes 6 styles and 6 carpels).

Family Proteaceae
Includes the genera:
1.  Macadamia
2.  Brabejum (wild almond)
3.  Finschia
4.  Hicksbeachia (monkey nut)

Most Proteaceae share the following characteristics:
a) Leaves are thick and leathery. This type of foliage allows them to withstand water stress better than many other types of plants. They are likely to be wind resistant and tolerant of dry air conditions (i.e. low humidity).

b) Most grow continuously all year round in mild climates (some have a short dormant period over summer).

c) Most have proteoid roots. (ie. proteoid roots are a type of root which is able to absorb nutrients from soils which have very low levels of nutrients   where other types of roots would not absorb nutrients). Proteaceae plants will grow on relatively infertile soils; some in fact do not tolerate fertile soils.

d) There tends to be a great deal of variation within a species in terms of flower, foliage and growth habit.

Family Burseraceae
Includes the genera:
1. Boswellia (Indian olibanum)
2. Canarium (pili nut)

Family Lecthidaceae
Includes the genus Bertholetti (Brazil nut)

Family Sterculiaceae
Includes the genera:
1. Cola (cola nut)
2. Theobroma (cocoa)

Family Anacardiaceae
Includes the genera:
1.  Anacardium (cashew)
2.  Aleurites (candle nut)

There are around 60 genera and 600 species in this family; and most are trees and shrubs (occasionally climbers). Leaves are usually alternate and compound. Flowers can be unisexual or bisexual. Flowers typically have 5 or 10 stamens. Ovary is superior with 3 united carpels.
Family Rosaceae
1.  Prunus dulcis (almond)
2.  Prunus armeniaca (apricot or Chinese almond)
3.  Parinari curatellifolia

The rose family is diverse in many respects (eg. widespread and variable growth habits).
Leaves can be simple or compound but are typically alternate.
Flowers are usually bisexual and occur at the tips of the stems.
Fruits can be dry or fleshy and structure can vary (including drupes, achenes and pomes)
Ovary is normally superior, but not always.
Calyx has 5 sepals and the corolla has 5 petals.

Family Leguminosae
(NOTE: this family is now split into Fabaceae, Mimosaceae or Caesalpiniaceae)
1.  Arachia hypogaea (peanut)
2.  Kerstingiella geocarpa (Hausa groundnut)
3.  Acacia albida (and seed of some other species can be roasted and eaten)
4.  Castenospermum australe (this nut is eaten by some indigenous Australians)

Legumes can be identified by the fruits which are pods, enclosing the seeds.

Family Asteraceae (also known as Compositae in older texts)                
1.  Balsamorhiza sagitta (sunflower)
2.  Carthamus tinctorius (safflower)

The Asteraceae or "Daisy" family comprise a very large family of about 800 genera and 12,000 species.  The flowers are actually a composite of several small flowers fused together to appear as one flower.  If the flower is pulled apart it can be seen that it is made up of several individual units, each one having its own set of floral parts (ie. petal, stamen, stigma, ovary etc).  Some Asteraceae flowers are incomplete and have only some of the floral parts (eg. Helichrysum, Dahlia, Zinnia, marigold, tansy, chrysanthemum, lettuce, sunflower etc).

Family Cucurbitaceae - (note: this family is now known as Brassicaceae)
1.  Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) (seeds eaten)
2.  Carthamus tinctorius (oyster nut)

The cucurbits are creepers, warm season plants.  Flowers are 5 lobed and often monoecious (ie: contain either male or female parts only).

Family Palmaceae - (note: this family is now known as Aracaceae)
1.  Cocos nucifera (coconut) - there are many other palm nuts that are considered edible, though only some are considered pleasant to taste.
2. Areca catechu (betel nut)

The palm family includes not only tall tree like plants, but also low shrubby species and climbers.
Leaves form a terminal cluster and are palmate (fan types) pinnate or sometimes bipinnate. Flowers are usually unisexual. Fruit is a berry or drupe, enclosing a hard seed.

Family Pinaceae
1.  Pinus pinea (stone pine)
2.  Pinus cembrioides (Mexican nut pine)

Plants in this family are mainly evergreen, occasionally deciduous, monoecious trees, occasionally shrubs, usually with needle-like foliage, from the Northern hemisphere. Branches are opposite or whorled, elongated, or sometimes spurred. The leaves are linear, often needle-shaped. Male cones are small and non-woody, female cones are woody, and generally with spirally arranged scales. Each scale (usually) with two ovules borne near the base of the upper side of the scale. Usually two winged seeds produced per scale. Genera in this family include: Abies, Cathaya, Cedrus, Keteleeria, Larix, Picea, Pinus, Pseudotsuga, Pseudolarix, Tsuga.

Note: there are many more species of rare and uncommon edible nuts - many of these are eaten by indigenous populations in remote areas.



This course is equally suited to the home producer and commercial grower.






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