Hazelnut Happenings This Summer

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We joined our fellow growers at the Annual Nut Growers Society Tour on August 7th to discuss crop updates, learn about techniques in the field, and of course, eat schnecken (it’s a tradition!).

With the USA ranking as the fifth largest producer of hazelnuts in the world and Oregon growing about 99% of that crop, it’s no wonder there was a lot to talk about! This year, hazelnut harvest is expected to begin 10 to 14 days earlier than last year, allowing us to gear up for the Chinese New Year celebrations that often include hazelnuts. Our growers are expecting an above average crop, which one grower described that his trees branches are, “breaking under the pressure!”

Oregon hazelnuts are touted as high quality and consistent, just a few of the reason why hazelnut demand is increasing. In the next 10 to 20 years, China will double its consumption of nuts, requiring greater production overall. Another reason for increased hazelnut demand is due to a below average almond crop, driving consumers to consider other nut options.

We are expecting a nice crop this year and look forward to hearing about your experiences with Oregon hazelnuts! For more coverage on the growers tour, click here! Feel free to drop a line in the comments section below, would love to hear from you!

Update on 2013 hazelnut crop

Intercropping for WebAlthough hazelnuts are only harvested in the fall, there is much to be done year-round to ensure the yield is at its highest, and the nuts are the best quality they can be. During this time of year, growers have their attention focused mainly on the orchard floor, making sure it’s clear from weeds and grass so when the nuts begin to fall in the autumn months, they are falling onto a clean and smooth surface.

In some of the young orchards, growers plant other crops in between the rows of hazelnut trees. This enables them to utilize the acreage while the hazelnut trees are growing.  In the photo featured, the grower has intercropped hazelnut trees with snap beans on land near Woodburn, Oregon. Much like in a garden, young plants need water during the summer, and the young hazelnut trees receive water from the drip lines in the photo.

This year we expect a little higher crop than last year, with harvest beginning around mid to late September, which is a little earlier than most years. Check back for other hazelnut updates soon!

Another reason to enjoy hazelnuts

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study on the effects of the Mediterranean diet on participants at high risk of developing heart disease. In the test, one group of the diet participants ate more than an ounce a day of hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds, which resulted in a reduced risk of a heart attack or stroke by as much as 30 percent. Just one more reason to enjoy delicious hazelnuts!

Read more about the study on NPR.

Oregon hazelnut industry on the upswing

We recently blogged about a Portland Monthly article, emphasizing the need for new hazelnut varieties in order for the industry to overcome the ongoing battle against Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB). That article highlighted one new variety, ‘Jefferson,’ which has already won praise from growers as a blight-resistant variety yielding stellar in-shell results. Subsequently ‘Dorris,’ ‘York’ and ‘Felix’ were released and now, the Oregon hazelnut industry has even more reason to see a bright future. Last week Oregon State University announced the upcoming release of ‘Wepster.’

Thanks to plant breeder, Shawn Mehlenbacher, these new varieties range in size and production time, allowing hazelnuts growers flexibility in their growing practices. ‘Dorris’ and ‘Wepster,’ commercial varieties, share a high level of resistance to the EFB, but differ in other respects. Nuts from the ‘Dorris’ cultivar are notable for their flavor and will be shelled and sold as high-quality kernels. The trees are also notable for their size (about half the size of ‘Barcelonas’), which will lead to increased planting density and shorter time to production. The ‘Wepster’ variety will offer growers an extended harvest with a more vigorous, higher-yielding tree (compared to the ‘Yamhill’). Its nuts, which are small in size, will be sold for use in chocolates and baked goods.

‘York’ and ‘Felix,’ both pollinizer varieties, will be used to pollinate the ‘Dorris’ variety. While they won’t produce commercial yields, their nuts are marketable and both varieties are highly resistant to EFB.

Read more about Dorris, York and Felix on the Capital Press.

Read more about Wepster on the Capital Press.

Hazelnut pollen as art

Artist Wolfgang Laib will be presenting his “Pollen from Hazelnut” installation at The Museum of Modern Art from January 23 to March 11, 2013 – his largest pollen-based on installation to date. The artist created his first pollen field in 1977 and since has collected pollen yearly in the forests and meadows near his home in southern Germany. Measuring approximately 18 x 21 feet, Laib sieves pollen directly on the floor for a color that is both radiant and unique. Click here for photos, to learn more about the installation and read the interview with Laib himself.