By the end of September the walnuts on your trees should be ripe and ready to pick, but getting up into the trees to get them down can be such a hassle that they often get left for extended periods--which, of course, is an open invitation to any local squirrels to come and harvest your walnuts for you. Thankfully, by following a few easy steps, you can make the most of your walnut harvest with minimum effort.
Check to see if the walnuts are ripe and ready to harvest. Walnuts are considered wipe when they change from a solid green to a yellowish-green color. This generally occurs around late September.
Find a long pole. Generally one 8- to 10-feet long will work just fine unless your walnut tree is exceptionally large. Another option for this is a standard pruning tool that you use to cut back your trees. These pruning tools are generally adjustable in length and will be more than suitable to the task at hand.
Use the pole to shake the lowest limbs first. Place the end of the pole against the midpoint of the tree limb and gently move the pole in an up and down motion. This will shake the ripe walnuts loose from the branch. Just be sure to wear proper eye protection, as falling walnuts may land on you.
Shake the next levels of branches in a similar manner, continuing around the tree and up through the levels of canopy until you have completed the entire circuit all the way to the top.
Gather the walnuts that have fallen to the ground. By the time you are done, you should have quite a harvest of walnuts to gather up. Make sure to be thorough, as walnuts left behind will often attract unwanted animals to your trees.
Repeat the entire process as needed. You will likely need to do this several times throughout the harvesting season as the walnuts will ripen at different rates. Generally once every two weeks for a six- to eight-week period is plenty.