Food | Oregon

Pass The Coconut Oil, Walnuts Get Sunburns Too

OPB | Aug. 21, 2012 6:42 a.m. | Updated: Oct. 16, 2012 10:03 a.m. | Keizer, Oregon

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Last week’s hundred degree temperatures didn’t just leave Oregonians with red skin. OPB’s Vince Patton learned that walnuts can get sunburned too.

Scorching sun on a hot afternoon can leave black sunburn spots on walnuts.

Scorching sun on a hot afternoon can leave black sunburn spots on walnuts.

Vince Patton / OPB

The shade of a 50-year-old walnut orchard made the scorching temperatures seem almost tolerable. But John Blake says the recent heat wave took a toll on his crop.

Walnuts get sunburns.

“A real bad sunburn you’ll get a black side of the nut,” Blake says.

Blake grows walnuts and filberts in his orchards near Keizer. At this time of year, most walnuts are still green. That’s the way they’re supposed to look. But he quickly finds more with a dark brown spot covering a third of the shell.

John Blake grows walnuts and filberts in his orchards near Keizer.

John Blake grows walnuts and filberts in his orchards near Keizer.

Vince Patton / OPB

“In the afternoon the hot sun will just cook the sunny side of the nut but there’s not much we can do as far as mother nature.”

Walnuts that grow under leaves are lucky. They’re protected. But pity the ones that happen to grow on the southwest side of the trees and reach out for some nourishing sunshine.

Green walnuts still on the tree

Green walnuts still on the tree

Vince Patton / OPB

They get baked in the afternoon.

Blake says California walnut growers often spray their crops with a whitewash – a sunblock. Here, it would be too expensive for the few days of real heat that happen in the Willamette Valley.

“A little bit of sunburn is still all right to chop up and put in your cookies. But if it’s too much then it’ll be really shriveled and most homeowners would just toss, toss that.”

Blake says filberts don’t burn. As for his walnuts, it’s too early to know how much his crop will be hurt.

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