Walnut (Juglans regia), belonging to family Juglandaceae, is one of the important temperate nut fruits of India. Two most common walnut species cultivated are the Persian or English walnut (Juglans regia) and the black walnut (Juglans nigra) of north America origin. The black walnut is of high flavour but due to its hard shell and poor hulling characteristics, it is not grown commercially. Almost all commercially produced walnut varieties are hybrids of the English walnut.

Walnut production in India

In India, walnut production was earlier confined to Jammu & Kashmir and subsequently it spread to Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Some limited variability also exists in north-eastern regions, viz. Darjeeling, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Jammu and Kashmir is a major walnut producing state contributing about 90 % of total production of the country. India exported 2191.21 mt of walnut worth Rs. 5527.23 Lakh in 2016-17.

The economics of walnut production in suitable agro-climatic conditions indicate that investment in walnut growing will have a high payback.

Walnut production in Uttarakhand

Climatic conditions and topography in Uttarakhand is fairly well suited for the cultivation of various temperate and subtropical fruits. At present more than 17000 ha area is utilized in the cultivation of walnut in the region. In the present scenario as temperature is rising due to global warming the apple cultivation is also shifting to more higher altitude for chilling requirement and the area from where apple is shifting should be replaced by walnut primarily and other nuts.

Uttarakhand is next to Jammu and Kashmir in terms of area and production but contributes only about 8.47 % of total production in India. National Horticulture Board has estimated as 17260 ha under walnut cultivation and 19340 mt production in Uttarakhand in 2016-17. Major walnuts producing districts of state are Almora, Dehradun (temperate areas) and Pauri Garhwal.

Promoting walnut cultivation

To promote walnut cultivation in Uttarakhand and to increase farmer’s income Uttarakhand Forest Resource Management Project (UFRMP) JICA in collaboration with ICAR-CITH (Central Institute of Temperate Horticulture) has taken walnut cultivation/plantation as resource of income for the farmers. Major challenges are to expand the walnut area and to replace the existing inferior trees of walnut with grafted quality planting material. ICAR-CITH being a premier institute in promotion of walnut in temperate region of the country, has developed number of improved cultivars for increasing walnut production. The promising cultivars are CITH-1 to CITH-10.

Activities under UFRMP-JICA

To promote walnut cultivation in the state, Uttarakhand Forest Resource Management Project (UFRMP)-JICA has signed an MoU with Central Institute of Temperate Horticulture (CITH), Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir. Under this MoU, CITH will provide grafted walnut plants (85000 to 100000) to establish mother orchards of walnut & cultivation on farmers land. The CITH will also provide training & technological know-how. CITH regional station at Mukteshwar will be strengthened through establishment of a Model Nursery which will provide grafted plants to farmers in Uttarakhand.
The MoU was signed on 12th September, 2017 and the scope of cooperation is as under:

Scope of cooperation

• Both parties shall work collectively for the development of Walnut in the State of Uttarakhand.

  • ICAR-CITH will
    a) Provide 1000-1500 grafted plants of walnut for mother block in (2017-18).
    b) Supply about 10000-12000 in 2018-19, 12000-15000 in 2019-20; 15000-18000 from 2020-21 to 2023-24 every year of improved grafted walnut varieties, developed by CITH.
    c)  Ensure transfer of technology to Uttarakhand State for raising the planting stock of walnut in Uttarakhand, through vegetative propagation (graft method), which, inter alia, would include the following techniques:
  1. Preparation of Root Stock.
  2. Development of suitable polyhouses.
  3. Development of Mother Blocks.
  4. Selection and preparation of Scion Wood.
  5. Grafting of Scion Wood on the prepared rootstock.
  6. Planting techniques including irrigation and manuring.
  7. Training and Pruning of Planted material.
  8. Plant Protection methods.
  9. Giving other regular technological inputs based on R&D, taken up by CITH from time to time.
  10. Preparation of technical manuals, catering to the requirements of the community.
  • ICAR-CITH to accomplish the above, shall submit a self-contained project to PMU, UFRMP, for approval by Uttarakhand Forest Resource Management Society. The cost of the project would be approximately about Rs 303 Lakh.
  • The cost of the project, for creation of infrastructure to ensure a constant supply of 25000 plants of Walnut (grafter variety) and capacity building of the State, will be borne by the Project.
  • The Parties agreed to evolve such measures, as to facilitate achieving common objectives of the Parties in a meaningful and productive cooperation in mutually beneficial areas/ways as identified above.

Establishment of walnut mother blocks

The mother blocks of walnut have been established of the CITH varieties in five divisions at nine places. The CITH varieties are planted in different locations, which also are useful in comparing performance at different locations in terms of agronomic evaluation, adaptability, disease and insect pest infestation, vigor and fruiting etc.

Establishment of mother orchards at nine forest nurseries/areas of five JICA divisions:-

Name of Forest Division Location Area (ha) No. of plants
Soil Conservation Forest Division, Ranikhet Soni 3.00 750

Soil Conservation Forest Division, Nainital

Silalekh 1.00 250
Lamahanga 1.00 50
Ria 1.00 70
Mussoorie Forest Division, Mussoorie Moriana 3.00 300
Magra 0.75 70
Garhwal Forest Division, Pauri Thalisain 1.50 125
Listia 1.50 150
Pithoragarh Forest Division, Pithoragarh Berinag 1.50 125
Total 14.25 1890
Planting in farmers’ field

323 grafted walnut seedlings obtained from CITH-Srinagar were distributed to progressive farmers of Jaunpur Range, Mussoorie Forest Division, Mussoorie in 2017-18.

Training on walnut grafting

Field- level forest staff are being trained at CITH- Mukteshwar (Nainital) as well as at CITH- Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir on walnut grafting so as to develop their skill and acquire first-hand practice for future.