How to Grow Wheat Near Black Walnuts

Overview

Black walnut trees often present a challenge when selecting companion plantings or designing a garden layout. Several parts of the black walnut tree produce a compound called juglone that is damaging or deadly to a range of edible and ornamental plants. According to West Virginia University, this chemical incompatibility does not affect wheat, making it one of the field crops that can be planted and thrive adjacent to, or in and among, black walnut trees. Also, the deep central tap root of black walnut means less entanglement and competition for water and nutrients between the tree roots and the wheat crop. Wheat is planted in the early fall and grows primarily during the cool season when walnut trees have shed their leaves and are dormant, according to Missouri State University, which further decreases competition for soil resources as well as sunshine.

Step 1

Prepare planting rows or beds for your wheat that are at a bare minimum 3 feet and up to 7 feet away from your black walnut tree or trees. This will ensure ample light and soil moisture for the wheat crop and minimize root interference between the two crops.

Step 2

Till the planting rows or beds to a depth of at least 6 inches to loosen and lighten the soil. Run a rake over the surface of the soil to make it roughly level.

Step 3

Broadcast 60 to 75 pounds of wheat seed over every half-acre of prepared planting soil. Use your hand to cast the seed over the soil with a to-and-fro motion of the wrist until the appropriate weight of seed is distributed evenly over the corresponding area.

Step 4

Nestle the wheat seed into the top soil with the rake so that it is buried 1 inch deep. Add more soil over the seed to ensure that it is covered by 1 inch of soil as needed.

Step 5

Water the seed gently after planting to insure the soil surrounding the now buried seed is wet. When ample rain is not present, irrigate sufficiently to keep the soil evenly moist but not sopping wet.

Step 6

Pull up and discard all competitive weeds that crop up near the black walnut trees and near your stand of wheat, on a constant basis. Weeds will steal moisture and soil nutrients from both crops and need to be managed aggressively.

Things You'll Need

  • Wheat grains/seeds
  • Hoe or spade
  • Fixed tine rake
  • Water

References

  • West Virginia University: Black Walnut Toxicity
  • USDA Forest Service: Companion Crop Recommendations for Planting with Black Walnuts
  • Delta Farm Press: Tips for Planting Wheat
  • University of Missouri: Walnut Agroforestry
  • University of Wisconsin Crop Manager Newsletter: Recommendations for Winter Wheat Establishment in 2009
Keywords: black walnut toxicity, juglone tolerant crops, wheat planting location

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.