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.

Saving Oregon’s hazelnut industry

Portland Monthly magazine recently ran a feature on Oregon’s hazelnut industry, and the battle growers have been fighting with the Eastern Filbert Blight since the early 1980s. But forward-thinking growers initiated what has become a world-renowned hazelnut breeding program at Oregon State University, and new varieties such as “Jefferson” are giving growers new hope for the future of hazelnuts in Oregon. Read the article here.

Holiday hazelnut gifts

When it comes to gifts for the holidays, there is no shortage of hazelnut-inspired options! From by-the-bag to hazelnut caramels and oil, there is something for everyone. Our own Polly Owen visited KATU’s AM Northwest and gave them a glimpse into an abundance of hazelnut gift ideas. Here is a sneak peek:

We’ve recently heard about three new products using Oregon hazelnuts — all by Northwest companies! They are available in-store or for purchase online:

  • Chocolate Covered Oregon Hazelnuts from Hot Cakes in Seattle, WA
  • Oregon Hazelnut Toffee from Vollie Austin Toffee in Beaverton, OR
  • Chai Masala Popcorn with Oregon Hazelnuts from Masala Pop in Portland, OR

Happy hazelnut shopping!

Hardy hazelnuts

Oregon State University and the Oregon hazelnut industry have maintained a meaningful partnership over the years, allowing for the continued growth and cultivation of new varieties of this special nut. Learn more about this special partnership (and delicious new recipes!) from hazelnut cookbook author, Jan Roberts-Dominguez.

Corvallis Gazette-Times article