By Rich Brown
Sixteen stations that buy black walnuts in the Joplin area are among 262 throughout the Midwest officially opening for business today.
Hulling machines are prepared and ready, with starting prices for hulled walnuts set at a record $13 per hundredweight in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
"This is up from $11 the previous year and $10 the year before that," said Brian Hammons, president of Hammons Products Co. in Stockton. "We should have a fairly decent crop in Southwest Missouri."
Hammons said he expects a smaller crop than last year, partly because of the long-term drought that has hurt the quality of the nuts.
But, he is not connecting the drought with the price increase.
"The drought did not have that much effect on the price," he said. "We felt like it was time to be more aggressive in the fact that the market needs more nuts, and customers who have been reluctant to pay higher prices in the past have told us that they need the nuts and are willing to pay a little bit more for them."
Black walnuts, which grow wild throughout the Ozarks and other Midwestern areas, are gathered by individuals, families and fund-raising groups looking to earn money by picking them up and taking them to a hulling and buying location. The hulled nuts are then bagged for Hammons Products, which is in its 60th year in the business.
People in 16 states participate in the harvest, with uses for the income ranging from Christmas gifts to education.
More information on black walnuts may be obtained by calling Hammons Products at (888) 429-6887 or going online to www.black-walnuts.com.
Area buying/hulling stations
Anderson: McDonald County FFA, Will Gordon, 100 Mustang Drive, on south side of the junction of highways 76 and 71 at McDonald County High School.
By Rich Brown
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