From Islapedia
East of cellar at Main Ranch.
Rough plowed vineyard at right, road leading to the east,
walnut trees and Campo Dos Pinos in the foreground, with creek in middle distance,
and Church and Mondo Novo [New World] vineyards in the distance.
Santa Cruz Island, Symmes, 1922

WALNUTS were grown commercially on Santa Cruz Island after the turn of the century. The Spanish initially introduced walnuts as a crop into Alta California, where it gained importance in the 1840s. By the early 190ss, southern Santa Barbara County had become one of the most important walnut-producing regions in the United States. By 1910, the Santa Barbara County walnut crop was estimated at $300,000. Autumn harvesting was done by hand and tree limbs were shaken with long poles to knock the nuts to the ground for retrieval. For the 1918 walnut picking season on Santa Cruz Island, 68 “Russian days” were reported. A February 1919 map shows 180 trees planted to the north of the Main Ranch yard. Symmes reported a total of three acres of trees at the main ranch that were “large and evidently well adapted to the conditions.” [1922: 73].

In the News~

February 1906 [SCICo]: “Trees planted in m. stable field: 11 walnut trees.”

November 23, 1906 [SBMP]: “Island trade in full swing. Cattle shipments — wine, walnuts, almonds and other products being marketed. Trade with the islands is in full swing at the present time, notwithstanding the rough weather… The Santa Cruz Island schooner came in yesterday with a cargo of wine, walnuts and almonds, products of the island ranches, and returned in the afternoon for a cargo of sheep…”

1908 [SCICo]: “Trees planted in m. stable field: 33 walnut trees.”

GET DATE: “In regard the walnuts, they will be more secure if placed in double sacks, as they will stand the trip better. Send them up as soon as you can so that we can have the benefit of an early market.”

December 18, 1913 [SBMP]: “The development of a new industry on the Channel Islands is proven by the receipt yesterday of a consignment of walnuts and almonds from Santa Cruz Island. There were 85 bags of English walnuts and 20 bags of almonds, the product of the Caire orchards. The nuts are of good quality. They were brought across on Captain Vasquez boat, the Otter.”

October 31, 1916 [SCICo]: “…3 men are gathering the rest of the walnuts. What is the price on shipments we think we can sell a sack or two?”

November 14, 1916 [SCICo]: “The walnuts are all gathered. We have 70 grape boxes full but have not sacked them yet. The quality is not very good. The first rains beat most of them into the ground and they are badly stained. Sacking and sulfuring doesn't remove it. Dipping in chloride _____ and sulfuric acid will clean them. If it is advisable to go to this expense we will need 50 __ chloride of lime. Should we grade for size?”

December 26, 1916 [SCICo]: “As a suggestion to cut down the cost of meals, why not plant some fruit trees? There would be nothing gained for 3 years, but after that time it would have some effect. There are two pieces of land available at the Main Ranch - the long narrow strip back of the Residence and the northern portion of the walnut grove…”

June 20, 1917 [SCICo]: “We have experienced some very hot weather. On the 15th the temperature went to 110 degrees; on the 16th to 112 degrees and on the 17th to 118 degrees. The past three days have been warm, but the thermometer hasn't reached the 100 mark… The corn has been damaged 50% and the walnuts probably an equal amount.”

August 28, 1917 [SCICo]: “Pelt sacks were sent out on the last steamer. What we have seen in use or will be need at Scorpion where we expect to have some 30 sacks of beans and walnuts.”

November 11, 1918 [SCICo]: “We have six Russians picking walnuts.”

November 16, 1917 [SCICo]: “Walnuts are now being picked…”

November 23, 1917 [SCICo]: “The walnuts are all picked, but we will be unable to ship them until some of the grain sacks have been emptied.”

December 10, 1917 [SCICo]: “We will also have 27 sack of walnuts and 30 sacks of beans.

January 15, 1918 [SCICo]: “At the Main Ranch pruning is being done in the Vineyard. All the trees have been pruned with the exception of the walnuts and we are working on these.”

October 12, 1918 [SCICo]: “We will need about 120 additional to those in use, for the walnuts, of which there is a large crop.”

October 31, 1918 [SCICo]: “As soon as the grapes are picked we are going to put the Russians to picking walnuts so that we can use our own men for some of the necessary work that must be done before winter. On the Mainland they are paying from $27 to $30 per ton for picking according to whether the weights are field weights or warehouse weights. We believe that we can get the work done for $24 and board.

November 11, 1918 [SCICo]: “We have 6 Russians picking walnuts.”

November 18, 1918 [SCICo]: “Walnuts are being picked and the work on cleaning up after vintage is under way.”

November 28, 1918 [SCICo]: “We are shipping about half the walnuts. The balance is not dry enough to ship. These now being sent are of better quality than those remaining, most of them being gathered before being covered with wet leaves.”

December 6, 1918 [SCICo]: “We are shipping you another lot of walnuts. There will be about 50 sacks more. This increase over previous years’ production was largely due to the pruning of the trees that was done under our direction.”

December 13, 1918 [SCICo]: “We would like a price on walnuts; the writer is taking a sack and is in doubt as to the amount to char up. We sold some to the Russians @ 25 cents, but this seems lower than quotations.”

December 22, 1918 [SCICo]: “We are shipping 44 sacks of walnuts, there being as many to follow.”

December 29, 1918 [SCICo]: “We also shipping 44 sacks of walnuts that being about as many to follow.”

January 17, 1919 [SCICo]: “We are shipping 34 sacks of walnuts, this being the last lot.”

October 21, 1919 [SCICo]: “The Schooner left for Santa Barbara via Scorpion Monday Oct. 13 at 2 P.M. It returned to P.H. Wednesday, October 15 at 5:50 P.M. bringing 27 puncheons and 3 sacks of walnuts from Scorpion.”

October 27, 1919 [SCICo]: “Wine is being hauled to the Prisoners Harbor and walnuts gathered.”

November 4, 1919 [SCICo]: “At the Main Ranch hay and grain are being hauled from Prisoners Harbor, nuts gathered, puncheons filled with wine, and pilings cut to protect the road from the creek. The pile driver is already set up.”

November 10, 1919 [SCICo]: “At the Main Ranch we are driving piles to have a wall in the creek below the garden to prevent washing of the road, picking nuts, and hauling hay.”

November 17, 1919 [SCICo]: “The Main Ranch the nuts have been picked. This work having been finished Monday November 1. We are sending by this trip 39 sacks weighing 293. This represents about 1/3 of the total crop.”

March 8, 1920 [SCICo]: “At the Main Ranch the vineyard has been pruned, also the walnuts and most of the brush burned.”

May 17, 1920 [SCICo]: “At the Main Ranch corrida horses are being shod, vineyard hoed, walnut trees trimmed of dead wood, hay harvested in the General.”

September 27, 1920 [SCICo]: “What with wool to haul, walnuts to gather, and the fall plowing to attend to we have not enough men to keep up with the routine work let alone repair the wharf.”

October 12, 1920 [SCICo]: “At the Main Ranch the hay has all been hauled in from the stack at European, the first fall of nuts is being gathered, plows put in shape, long-wooled sheep shorn.”

October 18, 1920 [SCICo]: “Walnuts are being gathered.”

October 30, 1920 [SCICo]: “Nuts are being gathered, long-wooled sheep shorn, saddle colts broke, fences around hay fiends repaired, the Selva is plowed, the Valentino is being plowed, gum trees being cut around the Rialto.”