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How to grow your own pine nuts and save money on the price of pine nuts

Information on growing Pine Trees for Pine Nuts from Pine Nut Expert Pinon Penny

What are pine nuts - Pining to know

Seeds of various pine trees pictured above


Pines are coniferous trees of the genus Pinus, in the family Pinaceae. There are about 115 species of pine, although different authors accept anything between about 105 to 125 species.

Pine trees (Pinus) have the wonderful distinction of being adaptable to wide ranges.  Depending on the variety, they will grow in climatic Zones 1 to 10 inclusive.  They are able to grow in soils ranging from wet clay to sandy loam. 

They fulfill many multiple uses, not only in providing a bountiful harvest of edible nut pines and aromatic cones which are sold at prices that make them a worthwhile commercial crop that will out produce cereal crops and other methods of farming operations based on their cash return per acre.

They also lend to the landscaping business which rival other conifer trees with their beautiful foliage of light greens to bluish colouring. They are one of the main crops for many animals. Coming in multiply choices ranging from 200 feet tall trees to bushes that reach a maximum height of 10 feet, their lifespan range from 150 years and over.  Once established, the trees may start production as early as 8 years from seed and they will continue production for their lifespan. They require minimum maintenance and we have not encountered any pests to date.       

Knowing Your Garden Variety Pine Nuts

An  important common species pine nut  is the seed of Pinus pinea. Two other species, P. sabiniana and P. coulteri, produce large cones however they  slower growing and the pine nut seed has a lower oil content than P. pinea.   Pinus pinea, is often called the 'Stone Pine' and sometimes the 'Umbrella Nut'. These names originate from the observation that these trees grow well in stony ground. They also grow in an umbrella shape.  

The tree is fairly easy propagated from seed, preferably fresh seed. However, fresh seed is hard to come by, as most pine nuts have been shelled and dehydrated.  One client wrote, "I tried planting the "pine nuts" available for making pesto, etc - but they rapidly dissolve." Opps....  This is one of the reasons, I asked Charles Rhora to contribute to our page. He has been growing pine nut trees for 30 years, with amazing success.  His banner is on the top of this page.  I highly recommend you visit his site, (By the way, this is NOT a paid advertisement)

Pine Nut Seed Germination

The  temperature for seed germination is about 17-19C. If temperatures are above 25C  seedling establishment will be inhibited.  Temperatures below about 10C create seed dormancy. The best germination is obtained following planting in coarse river sand or pumice with about 25% moisture. As with most seeds, they  will rot if the soil is too wet. It is important to add mycorrhizal fungus gathered from under a stand of other pine trees, because in the absence of the fungi the trees are likely to suffer phosphorous deficiency and make poor growth. Once established, the young pine nut trees should not be over-watered. Once the nut shell has fallen, you may replant into deeper containers. One must be careful toCare  avoid breaking the tap root .


We carry live raw P. Monophylla seeds (apx 1,500 per pound $13.00) and P. Edulis (2,300 seeds per lb $19.95 )

Purchase American Pine Nut Seedlings:

(please help us find a good U.S. resource, email me )

American  species of pine nut trees be expected to start producing cones from about year 10 years.  However, on poor soils production may not start until about year 12. In Europe the annual yield of nuts is about 500 kg/ha. Each cone holds about 50 nuts and 100 kg of cones holds about 20 kg of nuts. Prune the trees after 3 years to remove all the lower branches.  Clearing  lower branches facilitates the production and harvesting of the nuts.  Studies   undertaken in Italy on the effects of grafting which is being done with the object of producing more cones and better nuts. The preferred graft is a cleft graft done in mid-summer, although veneer side grafting is also practiced. The rootstock used for grafting must be at least two years old otherwise delayed mortality occurs about two years after grafting. In addition to P. pinea the rootstocks used include P. radiata (80-85% success), P. halepensis and P. sabiana (60-70% success) and P. pinaster (20-50%).

How to work with established pinon trees for nut production: 

If you live in an area of the American Southwest and own land with Pinyon Trees, please review, for information on managing your land for pine nut production.  Goods From The Woods works with private land owners in purchasing pinon nuts and helping develop the pine nut industry in the United States.  


Also -  I am a believer in having the nurse plants for young pinyon trees albeit there is conflict in the research.  Here are some additional resources for growing pinyon trees (P. Monophylla)

Seedling Establishment/Transplanting

Singleleaf pinyon: "Can be readily grown from seed.  Needs full sunlight"
University of Nevada - Agriculture Extension Office.  1954.  Nevada Trees.  Bulletin 94 - 2nd Edition
Pinus monophylla: "Minimum seed bearing age 20-25"
"Cleaned seeds per pound: 1,030 to 1,190, average 1,110"
US Forest Service.  1974.  Seeds of woody plants in the United States.  Agriculture Handbook No. 450.
"Observational studies indicate that establishment is facilitated by nurse plants, but little information exists on the mechanisms involved."
" Timing and rate of seedling emergence were temperature dependent with the order of emergence paralleling mean growing season temperatures: tree interspace = shrub interspace > under shrub > under Juniperus > under Pinus."
"Highest emergence occurred from depths of 1 and 3cm."
"All seedlings, including those that emerged from seeds and transplants, died within the first year in interspace microhabitats."
"Under-shrub microhabitats had more favorable soil and micro-environmental characteristics than under-tree microhabitats and had the highest lifespans for the first-year seedling cohort.  Predation of Pinus seedlings by rodents was a significant cause of mortality with caged transplants exhibiting life spans that were 74% longer overall than uncaged transplants."
Jeanne C. Chambers.  2001.  Pinus monophylla Establishment in an Expanding Pinus-Juniperus Woodland: Environmental Conditions, Facilitation and Interacting Factors.  Journal of Vegetation Science, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Feb., 2001), pp. 27-40.  
"P.monophylla seedlings were associated with Artemisia shrubs."
"Of the P. monophylla seedlings that germinated on unaltered andesite, all that were under shrubs survived, but only 6% of those that germinated in the intershrub spaces survived."
Ragan et al.  1996.  Competition and facilitation: Contrasting effects of Artemisia tridentate on desert vs. montane pines.
"Low elevation/warm winters:  Those that germinate should be planted with the root pointing straight down in deep tree tubes in well-drained soils until ready for out-planting.  Plant 2-3 germinated seeds in soil 1/8 inch deep in each tube.  Place the tubes in filtered shade or on the north or east side of a building or under a tree.  Any leaf litter that falls on the tubes should be removed.  The tubes need to be protected from small mammals with the construction and placement of a cage over the tubes.  Water the tubes once a week or more whenever the top of the soil is dry to the touch.
Pinyon pine is slow growing and should be watered and kept in tubes for one year.  After that time, plant in well-drained soil to avoid the possibility of fungus and in full exposure to sun in October, ideally just before a good soaking rain.  If the climate is really hot, put a shade or shingle on one side of the tree to protect it from southwest sunlight.  Create a basin that is one foot wide and four or five inches deep.  Make sure the downhill side of the berm is higher than the uphill side so the water will not run-off.  Water deeply, but infrequently for the first two to three years after planting.  If there is a problem with voles, mice, deer, rabbits, antelope, and other animals undermining the roots and girdling the seedlings precautions need to be taken to create above and below-ground wire mesh or tubes that protect the seedlings until they get fully established.  Singleleaf pinyon pines are frost-resistant and extremely drought-tolerant, once established.
High elevation/cold winters: The seeds from singleleaf pinyon pine can be directly planted just after harvest in tree tubes, placing 3 or 4 seeds per tube one-eighth inch deep.  Set tubes outside and subjected to freezing temperatures until spring.  They are then watered as soon as the ground thaws out and the soil surface becomes dry to the touch.  The seedlings are watered regularly (unless rains suffice) until out-planted the following spring (one year later) as soon as the ground thaws out.  Once out-planted, continue to water for the first two to three years and continue to protect the seedlings from large grazing animals and small mammals."
USDA-NRCS Singleleaf pinyon plant guide -

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