Living in an area that has black walnut trees can be a gold mine as they typically produce nuts through late summer and early fall and are flavorful. However, their yield must be collected from the ground, either by hand or with a gathering machine. If you go to the trouble to bring them in there are companies willing to buy them. You can also choose to sell them through your own business.
The nutrient-rich black walnut has a richer, bolder taste than the ordinary walnut, which makes it a favorite of whole-food connoisseurs, bakers and health food stores. Many larger walnut companies have hulling and processing stations across the country.
Find the plant closest to you through an organization such as the American Walnut Manufacturers Association. Make sure transporting your bonanza to the processing plant won't be cost prohibitive. Get instructions on when and how to harvest and store the nuts and when to bring them to the facility. Nut companies can process them and generally pay for them by the pound.
If you decide to harvest and sell black walnuts on a micro-scale, such as to friends and neighbors, learn how best to process the walnuts yourself. Removing the hard green outer shell is often the most time-consuming and difficult step.
According to Hammons Products, one way to get at the treasure inside the shell is simply to use a heavy-duty hammer to crack it open. Spread the shelled nuts on a screen to dry and then use a hammer or nut cracker to open them. You also might try placing nuts in your driveway and running them over with your vehicle, but use caution to avoid tire, car body and driveway damage.
One Shell of a Business
Walnuts are more than just snacks, so you can boost your profits by selling the outers as well as the inners. Some manufacturers use those hard shells as abrasives to polish or clean soft metals and stones. Oil companies uses the shells to manufacture sealants, and cosmetic companies use the softened shells in soaps as exfoliants for the skin.
Selling directly to large companies probably won't be feasible, unless you grow walnuts on a vast scale. You can, however, sell your shells to companies that process them for resale, such as Hammons Products.
Cut Your Costs
Some people selling black walnuts on a larger scale may place ads in local papers and online media sites offering to buy your bounty. While you may make less money selling to an individual broker, you're likely to have lower costs, particularly if you stipulate that the eventual buyer must come to collect them. You can also place an ad seeking buyers.
If you have the time and know-how you can harvest, process, package and sell your nuts on your own. Attend farmers markets or approach local and organic food stores to offer your products for sale. You may also be able to sell to restaurants and bakeries.
Fairs, festivals and other public and community events can also provide a sales platform. Check your local health department code and business licensing office to learn more about any required permits.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.