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This fall, black walnuts are again worth a record high price—$13 per hundred pounds (after hulling). Now is the time to gather family, friends, and fundraising groups to begin an autumn tradition that will pay dividends in mild exercise, upbeat togetherness, and extra income.

Every year, thousands of people participate in the black walnut harvest. They use their earnings for everything from a dinner out, to Christmas gifts, even to college education. Opening day for the 2008 hulling season is October 1.

This high opening price could fluctuate, so plan your adventure early. Black walnuts grow wild throughout the Ozarks and the greater Midwest region. Gathered in the fall and sold to local buying stations, the nuts are hulled and bagged for Hammons Products Company in Stockton, Mo.

The Hammons network of local purchasing stations is prepared to serve veteran and first time harvesters with more than 260 hulling stations spread across 15 states. Missouri is the largest, producing about 65 percent of the harvest each year, while Arkansas provides the second-largest volume.

A complete list of hullers can be accessed at www.black-walnuts.com or by calling 888-4BW-NUTS, (888-429-6887) toll free. The website also provides company information, crop updates and great recipes for black walnuts.

Brian Hammons, third-generation company president, reports, “We’re expecting a much better harvest than last year. Although October weather and other factors will impact the final harvest, 25 million pounds is our goal. Also, the wet spring in the Midwest has probably helped the nut quality with higher nutmeat yields than the past several years.”

Black walnuts, nature’s gift, have a unique, bold flavor enjoyed by people all over America in ice cream, baked goods, salads and entrees.

The wild, natural nuts are especially popular in fall baking and holiday treats. The hard outer shell is used for a variety of industrial purposes, including oil well drilling, environmental filtration and as a naturally mild abrasive in soaps and cosmetic cleansers.

Harvesting, processing, distribution and marketing of black walnuts is performed primarily by Hammons Products Company in Stockton.

The company is in their 62nd year of operation. Further information concerning Hammons Products Company can be found at www.black-walnuts.com.

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