Growing Nuts and Seed Crops for Homegrown Cooking Oils

Work toward homestead food self-sufficiency by growing nuts and seeds that you can use to press into cooking oils. Get an idea of how much space you'll need to plant to a given oil crop in your garden using the chart below.  

By Cindy Conner 

You can grow sunflowers, pumpkins, peanuts, hazelnuts, and other plants to make cooking oil from their seeds. Some nuts and seeds contain more oil than others — for example, almonds, hazlenuts (filberts), peanuts, sesame seeds and walnuts have an oil content of more than 50 percent. Be sure to use oilseed varieties of sunflowers and pumpkins, which have an oil content of about 45 percent, for best results. 

To obtain oil from your nut or oilseed crop, you will need to invest in an oil press. I have successfully pressed homegrown hazelnuts and peanuts in a Piteba oil press (available from Bountiful Gardens), which yielded 3 1/3 tablespoons of oil per cup of hazelnuts and 4 tablespoons of oil per cup of peanuts. (Learn more about using a Piteba oil press.)

How to Know How Much to Grow

Use this chart to estimate how much space to dedicate in your garden to each nut or oilseed crop. We have provided a range of yield estimates because yields will vary widely based on the climate, soil quality and other factors of your garden.

More information about garden planning can be found in A Plan for Food Self-Sufficiency.

Nuts and Oilseeds  


Biointensive Yield 

(lbs./100 sq. ft.)

Average U.S. Yield 

(lbs./100 sq. ft.)

Percent of


1.5 – 3




2 – 4



Hazelnut (filbert)

7 – 15




4 – 10



Pumpkin seed

1 – 2



Canola (rapeseed)

5 – 12



Sesame seed

1.5 – 3



Sunflower seed

2.5 – 5



Walnut (in shell)

5 – 7.5



Biointensive Yield: Using biointensive methods, most gardeners can come close to the low end of the ranges below, and more experienced gardeners can expect the high end yields. These ranges come from How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits, Nuts, Berries and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible On Less Land Than You Can Imagine by John Jeavons.

Average Yield: The average yields come from Jeavon’s book and the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Percent Oil-to-Seed: The percentages in this column are sourced from Piteba.

More Charts for Crop-Specific Garden Planning


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