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  • Black walnut season to start with highest price ever

    Sep 20th, 2016

    Hammons Products Company, based in Stockton, is the world's leading commercial processor of black walnuts. On Wednesday 14 September, it announced that it will pay $15 per hundred pounds of hulled black walnuts when the traditional harvest period begins on Oct. 1.It is the highest price the company has offered to start a season. The company — which offered $14 at the start of the 2014 and 2015 harvests — noted that it sometimes changes the price during the season and that it encourages harvesters "to get their black walnuts turned in quickly."Black walnuts are unique in that only a fraction of the harvest comes from deliberately planted orchards. Hammons Products rely on the public to harvest the rest from the wild. The company has 214 designated hulling sites set up across the Midwest. Local hulling sites include, Ozark Empire Fairgrounds in Springfield and Wildcat Tool Rental in Rogersville.Hammons Products President, Brian Hammons, told the News-Leader that the company purchases about 23 million pounds of nuts in an average season, and that he's hopeful this year will be in the 20 to 24 million range."It definitely will be much better than last year," he said.Hammons said the company purchased less than 10 million pounds in 2015, and that it was the first time he could recall more nuts being purchased at sites outside Missouri than inside the state. In an average year, he said, Missouri accounts for 65 percent of the harvest.After hulling, the nuts are processed in Stockton, and then used in food products and sold in grocery stores around the country."A lot of people are discovering that bold flavor," Hammons said, noting that black walnut ice cream is a local favorite.