Is the high price of a grafted black walnut tree worth it?
The two main reasons that people buy grafted black walnut trees are 1) bigger nuts, and 2) easier-to-crack nuts.
About 14 or 15 years ago, we decided to plant some black walnut trees. We bought a couple of grafted trees from a nursery catalog, and they arrived in good shape and we planted them.
That same spring, someone advertised in the newspaper that they had black walnut seedlings to give away to anyone who wanted to transplant them. Supposedly, the mother tree had thin-shelled nuts, so the seedlings were expected to continue this trait.
My husband went dug up several of those seedlings and planted them in the part of our yard that we call "the meadow" because it has to be mowed all the time. His idea is that if we get enough trees there, the grass will quit growing.
From all that planting, we have four black walnut trees today. Two of them are the grafted trees, and two are the seedlings from the newspaper. All of the trees are well over 20 feet tall, and a couple of them are probably close to 30 feet tall.
One of the grafted trees died back so far early in its life that we were afraid it had completely lost its graft and had nothing left but rootstock. It produced the large walnut in the photo below, so apparently it didn't die back as far as we thought. This is the first year it has had walnuts. The other grafted tree has not yet borne nuts, though it is getting fairly big.
The seedlings have borne walnuts for several years now, and each year, they bear a few more nuts. Their nuts are, true to promise, fairly easy to crack (for black walnuts.) They're as easy to crack as the nuts from the grafted tree, but they're much smaller. One of their nuts is pictured at right in the photo above.
I don't know the answer to my question: "Is the high price of a grafted tree worth it?" It probably depends on the tree that you're getting seed from. I have one observation on the topic. If you're going to harvest and use the walnuts, you can crack out a cup of nut meats faster from big walnuts than from small ones.