Ablazajade - specialist grower of jade plants in New Zealand.

Harvesting Pine Nuts

Once you've planted your trees, be patient, it will take about 6- 8 years for them to begin producing cones. Pine nuts are long lived trees which reach peak production at around 40 years. After the first 3 years it is a good idea to trim the lower branches to allow machinery ease of access. It also gives you the opportunity to graze sheep under the trees eliminating the need for mowing.

Once your trees begin producing your biggest challenge will be extracting the tiny nuts contained in the cone. The mature cones need to be hooked with long poles from the branches or harvested mechanically with tree shakers. 

Traditionally the cones are then laid on concrete or tarpaulins to dry in the sun and release the nuts. The theory is the nuts will fall out of the cone - in practice some will but the majority will need coercing out by running them through rollers, cracking off the shells. Then they need to be sieved to remove the kernels and brown skin.

Each cone holds around 50 nuts - 100kg of cones will yield around 20kg of pine nuts. Although little research has been undertaken in NZ, indications are that each tree should produce around 5kg of nuts in a season. Every 3 or 4 years they should crop heavily, tripling the yield to around 15kg. Retailing at over $50/kg in the shops this could be a future high earner.