Squirreling away black walnuts

by Clarke Davis

Valley Lawn & Garden

Bill King has more than 1,200 sacks of walnuts stacked up and waiting to be shipped behind Valley Lawn & Garden. This is an unusually big year for walnuts. Photos by Clarke Davis

This is a big year for black walnuts and Bill King just might be the king of the walnut buyers in these parts.

Valley Lawn & Garden, King’s business on the west edge of Valley Falls, has been buying walnuts all month and was nearing 70,000 pounds last Friday, double last year’s take.

He’s been paying $12 a hundred weight after hulling, but the price dropped this week to $10. Monday, Oct. 31, is the last day.

King is a buyer for Hammons Products Company, Stockton, Mo., who bill themselves as the world’s premier processor and supplier of American black Walnuts.

This is the sixth year King has been a buyer for Hammons, but it’s by far the biggest year. He believes he will top 100,000 pounds by next Monday. The only other buyer for Hammons that King knows of is located at Troy.

Valley Lawn & Garden

The black walnuts are hulled and sacked. Each sack holds about 45 pounds of walnuts.

It’s also been a big year for selling the Nut Wizard, a wire device with a long handle that retrieves walnuts (or golf balls) off the ground.

Hammons provides a hulling machine located behind the business. The customer unloads their walnuts into the hulling machine and they are then sacked and weighed. King pays them cash on the spot.

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