Learn to grow a range of tropical and warm climate nuts; on a small or large scale; for self sufficiency or commercial production.

Course Code: BHT308
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn to Grow, Harvest, and Manage a Nut Farm -Small or Large

For most people, a nut is a type of food and a delightful food at that! Strictly speaking, not all nuts are edible; but this course is only concerned with edible nuts and in particular, the ones that are grown more extensively around the world in warm climates.
The tropical nut trees are dependent on your locality and conditions can vary quite considerably even in tropical areas, for example certain tropical areas may experience frosts. However there are so many varieites worth trying that it is worth learning about them all!

There are eight lessons including a special project in this course. This course is designed as a detailed look at identification and culture of nuts in warmer climates. Emphasis is placed on the species that are of horticultural value.

This is an extract from the course notes:
Botanists define a nut as follows:
"A dry, indehiscent, one seeded fruit, somewhat similar to an achene, but the product of more than one carpel, and usually larger with a hard woody wall"
(Reference: A Dictionary of Biology by Abercrombie et al, published by Penguin).

If you do not quite understand this description:

Indehiscent simply means that the fruit does not break open readily and release the seed
(Note: Legumes such as wattles or peas in contrast are dehiscent fruits -they dry, and then drop seeds while the dry fruits are still attached to the plant).

An Achene is a simple, thin walled fruit and contains only one seed. A strawberry in fact is a large number of individual tiny achenes which cover a fleshy receptacle (Note. The fleshy receptacle is what we eat as a strawberry; while the fruits and seeds are tiny gritty bits covering the surface).

Many types of plants have nuts as fruits; some are grown commercially as edible food products, and others are not.

Nuts are produced by the following trees; Quercus (oaks), Pecan, Filbert, Hickory, Macadamia, Hazelnut and others.

Commercial Growers and Home Gardeners may be less rigid in the way they define a nut. Generally nuts are edible fruits or parts of fruits which are hard, relatively dry (unlike fleshy fruits), and are able to be roasted for eating, or in many cases, may be eaten fresh.

In some cases, the roasting may destroy undesirable chemicals in the nut, or may enhance the flavour.

In the strict botanical sense, a peanut would not be a nut, because there can be more than one seed inside a fruit; however peanuts are perhaps the most widely grown commercial nut in the world.

Nuts above all have a distinct advantage over other fruits in their keeping quality. Being a dry product, they are less susceptible to spoilage, and will generally store well without any sophisticated or expensive storage treatments. This characteristic alone extends their marketing life, and can eliminate many problems associated with other types of crops.
(Note: They may need protection from pests though (eg. rodents and other vermin).

There are many nuts which are grown and eaten in one region, but not commonly heard of in other parts of the world. This is particularly the case in many tropical areas, where nuts which are eaten by local people may offer significant potential for future commercial cropping.


Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • What is a Nut
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • Main family groups of nuts
    • Family Juglandaceae
    • Family Corylaceae
    • Family Characteristics
    • Family Fagaceae
    • Family Proteaceae
    • Family Burseraceae
    • Family Lecthidaceae
    • Family Sterculiaceae
    • Family Anacardiaceae
    • Family Rosaceae
    • Family Leguminosae
    • Family Asteraceae
    • Family Cucurbitaceae
    • Family Palmaceae
    • Family Pinaceae
    • Information contacts (i.e. nurseries, seed, clubs etc.)
    • Potential for Nut Growing
  2. Nut Plant Culture
    • Terminology
    • Soil and Nutrition Management
    • Planting,water management, plant health, pruning, etc.
  3. Propagation of Nut Plants
    • Seed
    • Cuttings
    • Propagating Media
    • Hardening off Young plants
    • Layering
    • Budding and grafting
  4. The Macadamia
    • Magadamia growing in Australia & elsewhere
    • Cultivars
    • Macadamia recipes
  5. The Pecan
    • Nutritional components of the nut
    • Culture
    • Climate
    • Propagation
    • Cultivars
    • Problems
    • Uses
  6. Other Varieties which Grow in Warm Climates
    • Pistacio
    • Cashew
    • Peanut
    • Almond
    • Baobab (Andersonia)
    • Brazil Nut
    • Coconut
    • Guarana
    • Cola
    • Sunflower
    • Cocao
    • Coffee
    • Sesame Seed
    • Others are reviewd briefly, including: Pili Nut, Acacia, Hausa Ground Nut etc
  7. Selecting a site and planting a plot.
    • Site Selection and management
    • Site characteristics
    • Climate
    • Biological characteristics
    • Water
    • Other factors
    • Using weedicides with nut plantings
  8. Growing, harvesting and using nuts.
    • Harvest and storage of nuts
    • Sorting, Cleaning, Drying
    • Uses for nuts -food, crafts, timber etc


  • This course is for the curious grower who wants to learn more about types of warm climate nuts.In the lessons you will identify different nut crop varieties.
  • Classify and identift different types of nuts
  • Access sources of organisations specific to nut production
  • Learn about the cultural requirements of tropical nuts, as most of the varieties we look at are for the tropics or warm climates.
  • Discover the characterisitics of soils.
  • Understand:
    • plant nutrition
    • plant health
    • watering techniques
    • environmental protection for your crops
    • pest and disease management techniques for pruning and maintenance
  • Learn how to successfully propagate nut trees:
    • propagation from nut seeds and cuttings
    • grafting
    • layering
    • establishing rootstocks
  • Discuss Macadamia nut trees in detail
  • Discuss Peacan nut trees in detail.
  • Discuss other varieities of nuts such as Pistachio, Cashew, Almond, Brazil and other varieties you never knew exsisted.
  • Describe establishment and horticultural management of tropical nut trees is looked at.
  • Explain:
    • site selection for successful cultivation
    • planting techniques
    • factors affecting the selection of a site for nut cultivation.
  • Consider the harvesting and storage of nuts is reviewed.

Opportunities for Nut Farming
Nut trees are considered to be a medium to long term investment.
If grown commercially, most nuts (except peanuts, which crop in six months) take five or more years to bear and up to fifteen years to mature.

If you are considering a nut tree in your home garden, make sure you have plenty of space. Often you may need at least two trees of different varieties to ensure adequate pollination and hence nut set.

In all cases well drained, fertile soil is important; and irrigation desirable for tree maturity and early bearing. In dry summer climates watering is essential.

Generally speaking healthy nut trees are not susceptible to many pests and diseases. However our famous cockatoos and parrots are very partial to ripe nuts.

Nowadays we use grafted nut trees for vigour and disease resistance.
Often there are several different varieties for each type of nut. These have been developed for particular climates and times of ripening. Nut varieties are classified as early, mid season or late maturing.
A local nursery should advise you on the selection of varieties to suit your needs and situation.

A young nut tree develops a strong root system if the planting area is kept weed free. When established a grass and clover cover can be maintained (mown) around and between trees.

Regular fertilizing during the growing season encourages strong growth, pest and disease resistance and high yields of plump nuts. Nitrogen is a most important nutrient for nuts but don't forget Phosphorus and Potassium.

Nut trees are generally pruned and trained to develop a strong central trunk with five to six main branches. Prune in early winter after leaves drop.

Nuts are harvested in autumn, usually after falling to the ground, although they can be picked from the tree as they ripen. When kept in dry, cool conditions, nuts will keep for many months.
How Are Nuts Prepared for Eating
There are hundreds of different tropical plant species which are harvested for their nuts by local peoples in the pl;aces they grow. These are often important and traditional sources of protein for indigenous populations. Often though; there are "secrets" about how tghose nuts should be prepared for eating.
Some nuts can be taken from a plant and eaten raw; however many others are either not palatable, or contain toxins; if they are not treated in some way before eating. Washing and cooking are common methods for removing toxins for example:

Alkaloids: are nitrogen containing compounds with certain chemical characteristics such as reacting chemically like alkaline substances.  They have many different effects on the human body, for example morphine and codeine in opium are well known pain relieving alkaloids.  Nicotine in tobacco is also an alkaloid.

Glycosides: Bitter almonds contain glycoside amygdalin once ingested glycoside amygdalin turns into prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide) which is leached out by using a heating process.

Phytic Acid (Phytates):  this is present in cereals and nuts and forms insoluble compounds with calcium which when consumed can render calcium unavailable.  Those on vegetarian diets should be aware that phytic acid is a lot higher in this diet. Grains and nuts can be soaked to remove some of the phytic acid.

Resins: the shells around some nuts (e.g.  cashews), contains resins – a lacquer like substance that is toxic and can cause skin irritations. Resin needs to be removed carefully, so as to not contaminate the nut.

Tannins: are reddish or light brownish red/yellow coloured astringent acids that are present in some foods including some nuts e.g. walnuts, oak trees (acorns), European chestnuts etc. Tannins are sometimes used in herbal medicines in small quantities and also in leather dying.

Urushiol – this chemical is found in poison ivy but also in the cashew nut shell surrounding the raw cashew. This can cause dermatitis and also is toxic if ingested.


Who will benefit from this course?

Anyone wanting to have a sound understanding and knowledge of growing warm climate nuts whether it be to grow them commercially on a large or small scale, or for someone wanting to grow these plants in their back yard.  




Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

John Mason (Horticulturist)

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant.
Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK.
He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and edito

Bob James (Horticulturist)

Bob has over 50 years of experience in horticulture across both production sectors (Crops and nursery) and amenity sectors of the industry.
He holds a Diploma in Agriculture and Degree in Horticulture from the University of Queensland; as well as a Maste

Adriana Fraser (Horticulturist)

Adriana has worked in horticulture since the 1980's. She has lived what she preaches - developing large gardens and growing her own fruit, vegetables and herbs and making her own preserves.
In 1992 she formalised her training by graduating with a certif

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