Where do hazelnuts grow?

Flower:

Slender, pale clusters (called catkins) up to 3 inches long of male pollen-bearing anthers hang from buds on 1-year-old branches. Female flowers are bud-like with a spray of red styles at the tip, on the same branch as male catkins, single in the axils or at the tip of the branch.

Leaves and stems:

Leaves are simple and alternate, 2½ to 5 inches long, 1¼ to 3 inches wide, oval-elliptic or widest above the middle, with a long or short taper to a sharply pointed tip and a rounded to somewhat heart-shaped base. Edges are sharply double-toothed and may have a few very shallow lobes on the tip half. The upper surface is dark green and sparsely hairy, the lower is paler than the upper surface and hairy along most veins. Leaf stalks are ¼ to ¾ inch long and covered in a mix of soft, white, non-glandular hairs and bristly, dark, glandular hairs.

New twigs are reddish to brown to grayish and densely covered in a mix of soft, white hairs and bristly glandular hairs, becoming smoother the second year.

Older bark is light grayish brown with scattered white lenticels (pores), initially smooth but eventually developing a criss-cross pattern. Stems are multiple from the base, up to 1 inch in diameter, erect with ascending branches, spreading by rhizomes and may form small colonies or dense thickets.

Fruit:

Fruit is a round nut with a hard shell, 1/3 to ½ inch in diameter, enveloped in a pair of bracts that form a stiff, green husk, with up to 5 nuts in a cluster. The husk is up to twice as long as the nut, jagged and ruffled at the tip, and variously covered in a mix of soft, white hairs and glandular hairs that are often red.

The nut becomes exposed as it expands and the bracts spread apart. Nuts and bracts turn an orangy brown when mature in late summer and may persist through fall if not snatched up by wildlife.

Notes:

The nuts are very good eating, though smaller than commercially grown hazelnuts (a.k.a. filberts) so it takes a lot to make a handful. It is usually also a race to beat squirrels and other wildlife to the the punch. It strongly resembles the related Beaked Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta), which lacks glandular hairs on twigs, leaf stalks and husks, and the husks have a distinctive, long beak. The two species’ ranges overlap and may be found growing side by side, but Beaked Hazelnut is more common in moister sites and American Hazelnut in drier sites.

Filbert vs. Hazelnut: Is There a Difference?

What’s In a Name

Call them:

  • Hazelnuts
  • Filberts
  • Cobnuts

as it pleases you, but never call them anything but delicious. We unravel the mysteries behind their multiple monikers.

The Botanical Background

To most modern botanists, the layman’s term for the Corylaceae family of plants is the Hazel family. All trees or shrubs belonging to the Corylus species (hardy in USDA zones 3 through 8 or 9, depending on variety) are members of the Hazel family. So it makes perfect sense that their nuts would be called hazelnuts.

One school of thought is that the name “hazel” is derived from ‘haesel,’ an ancient Anglo-Saxon word for hood. It’s said to describe the appearance of the nutshells.

So Who Came Up With “Filberts?”

In some quarters, hazelnuts were tagged filberts because of the shaggy, bearded husks that cover their shells. In Germany — where hazelnut trees are commonly grown — the word “vollbart” means “full beard.”

Another explanation is that filberts are named for the French monk St. Philibert, whose feast day falls on August 22. In the early 19th century, French-Canadian settlers in Oregon’s Willamette Valley noticed early hazelnuts ripening on that date. They dubbed them “philiberts,” and eventually, “filberts.”

Expert gardener’s tip: Today, 99 percent of the commercial U.S. hazelnut crop comes from the Willamette Valley. Most growers there call the crop filberts among themselves, but market them as hazelnuts.

And Where Did “Cobnuts” Come From?

As if you weren’t confused enough, in Great Britain hazelnuts and filberts are called “cobnuts.” The name comes from a 15th-century children’s game. Two children would each tie a hazelnut to a string and take turns trying to hit the other’s nut, or “cob.”

Fun fact: Around 1830, British horticulturists introduced a hazelnut cultivar called ‘Kentish Cob.’ Reliable harvests of delicious nuts have made ‘Kentish Cob’ very popular among home gardeners.

The hazelnut also known as filbert or cob nut, has native species that are widespread over North America, Europe and Asia. Our two native species, the beaked hazel and the American hazel are very hardy, well adapted, small, 1-2 m tall, bushy plants. They produce quantities of small sized, thick shelled nuts. The European hazels, on the other hand, are larger plants, 3-4 m tall, with large thin shelled nuts. Though less hardy, they will grow in the milder regions of North America. They are grown commercially in Oregon northward to the Fraser Valley of British Columbia and more recently in the fruit growing districts of the Niagara Peninsula and South Western Ontario.

In Eastern North America, hazelnuts have not been commercially successful. This is largely due to a disease called eastern filbert blight, a fungus disease which invades the twigs and eventually kills the plant. The native hazels are resistant, some are even immune to this disease. The Turkish tree hazel is also resistant to eastern filbert blight. A number of breeders have crossed these species with the European hazel, resulting in selections that are hardier than the European and resistant to the blight. The trees are intermediate in size but have the European nut size.

In recent years, eastern filbert blight has found its way to the commercial plantings of the west coast. Oregon State University scientists under the guidance of Dr. Shawn Mehlenbacher have been breeding hazelnuts for resistance with the intention of selecting trees with complete immunity. Some of these introductions including hybrid selections from the east would be suitable for commercial plantings in zone 6b-7 regions of Ontario.

Dr. Thomas Molnar from Rutgers University in New Jersey has been working for a number of years to breed new commercial hazelnut selections for Eastern North American conditions with immunity to eastern filbert blight. Selections may be available in a few years. More cold hardy hazel sources have been identified, known as “northern hazels” that can extend the range where commercial hazels can be grown, possibly into zone 4.

The hazelnut hybrids tend to bloom very early, often in March, like their European parent. Our native species are later blooming, usually in late March to early April. Though the female flower is very hardy, a cold snap during bloom can affect nut set. The catkins or male bloom are also susceptible to damage caused by cold extended winter conditions or freezing temperatures at bloom. Bloom period can be very short or can extend over 2 weeks or more depending on winter and spring conditions. It is important as a result to have a number of different early and late pollinizers in an orchard to effectively pollinize the orchard and overcome the periodic cold spells that usually occur in March. Pollinizers can be seedlings or several cultivars. Hazelnuts are self-infertile, so at least two different cultivars or seedling plants are needed to produce nuts.

Hazelnuts are fairly shallow rooted and do well in a range of well-drained soils from sand to clay loams. Field tiles should be used to improve the drainage and though they are somewhat drought tolerant, irrigation should be set up for long dry spells. Better nut quality and sizing of the nut will result. Wind producing machines can be used to reduce the chance of a damaging frost at bloom and extend the commercial range of the hazelnut growing in Ontario.

Seedling commercial orchards of European hybrids are not recommended. The blight resistant selections can produce seedlings that have 70% blight resisting offspring. Orchards established with seedlings need to be culled, removing the blight susceptible trees, the trees with the low production, poor filling nuts, trees with small or unsavory quality nuts and the trees with too much bran material adhering to the kernel. New seedlings can be planted to take the place of the culls, but the lost production and time involved are counter-productive. By planting proven cultivars, good trees can be planted from the start. This more expensive alternative will save some work down the road.

Layered trees are produced by rooting the sprouts that come up around the base of a hazelnut bush. These sprouts are identical to the tree from which they come and so can be removed from the plant and started as a new tree with the exact characteristics as the parent tree. Clonal hazelnut trees can also be produced from cuttings and by tissue culture. Grafted trees are not recommended.

Ferrero Rocher Canada has spearheaded projects in Ontario through the Ontario Hazelnut Association to encourage commercial plantings of hazelnuts. They promise to buy all of the nuts we can produce that meet their quality requirements. This has promoted a great deal of interest in hazelnuts for Ontario and Eastern Canada.

Hazelnut trees will need to be suckered once or twice during the growing season. Hazels have a bush habit, that is, they produce multiple stems and annually add more sprouts from the root crown. This habit is undesirable to the orchardist as it interferes with the mechanical collection of the nuts. By training the bush to a single trunk right from the time it is planted, a tree form is established. Some growers prefer to allow up to 3 trunks to grow. Whichever training is used, it is necessary to spray any additional annual sucker sprouts to maintain the single or controlled number of trunks.

Important Hazelnut Characteristics

  1. Hardiness- All aspects of the tree needs to be hardy for the zone in which it is growing. This applies to the overall winter hardiness of the tree, female bloom hardiness and catkin hardiness. A tree suited for zone 6b should not be expected to do well in zone 5, but a tree suited to zone 4 could do well in zone 7.
  2. Medium to large size nuts- Medium round, thin shelled nuts are important to the processing trade, while the larger nuts, either round or oval are attractive for the in-shell market.
  3. Eastern Filbert Blight Resistance- Sprays and pruning can reduce the effect of this disease, but resistant selections and ultimately immune cultivars are more desirable.
  4. Production- The orchard trees must produce good crops annually. There should be a minimum of blanks (empty nuts) and the nuts should drop clean from the husks.
  5. Bud Mite Resistance. Small tight buds tend to resistant the penetration of the bud mite and so limit infection of buds by this hazelnut pest. These mites feed inside the bud and destroy shoot and flower tissues, limiting the crop. Sprays are needed to control this pest where resistance is not high.

Hazelnut Cultivars for Ontario

A few of the most blight resistant selections are listed here indicating some of the desirable characteristics.

‘Yamhill’ — An Oregon European selection that was designed for the processing trade. It is a medium/small size round nut with flavour characteristics acceptable to Ferrero Rocher. It has good blight and bud mite resistance and is considered a main crop cultivar for zone 6b-8. It ripens about September 10 in Ontario. For more information on this cultivar go to:

‘Gamma’ — This Oregon European cultivar was selected as a pollinizer variety for ‘Yamhill’ and other cultivars in their collection. ‘Gamma’ is blight resistant and bud mite resistant. At Simcoe Station, it has proven to produce pollen successfully after a cold winter. The nut is medium size, round and ripens about the same time as ‘Yamhill’. The nuts are acceptable to Ferrero and can be harvested together with ‘Yamhill’. In Ontario, it appears to be a good main crop cultivar too. For more information go to the above website.

‘Jefferson’ – This is an Oregon European cultivar that was selected to replace ‘Barcelona’ as a main crop selection for the in-shell market. The nut is large round and is acceptable to Ferrero. It is considered blight resistant, but in Ontario spraying is needed to keep blight under control. It is productive and considered a main crop variety. It ripens about mid-October. For more information go to the above website.

‘Gene’™ – (formerly ‘Geneva’). This is an immune, European x American hazel hybrid selection. It is very productive and a relatively large spreading tree. It is considered a good pollinizer for all of the selections listed here. Nuts are large and well filled with a clean firm kernel. The nuts ripens mid-October about the same time as Jefferson. The nuts are suitable for the fresh market and need to be harvested separately from the ones going to Ferrero. They should be planted between rows of early ripening cultivars like ‘Yamhill’. There are few blanks and it drops clean from the husk. It has low resistance to bud mite and would require sprays for control. ‘Linda’ and ‘Cheryl’ are two additional selections that are from the same breeding project that are blight immune and have similar nut and tree characteristics.

‘Slate™’ – This is a blight immune European x American hybrid selection. It is a very productive medium sized plant, producing few suckers. The nuts are large, well filled with a clean firm kernel. This selection ripens a few days ahead of ‘Gene’. There are few blanks and it drops cleanly from the husk. The nuts would be suitable for the in-shell market and can be mixed with the nuts from ‘Gene’. It has low resistance to bud mite and would require sprays for control.

‘Carmela’ – (formerly 208P). This is a seedling selection by Ernie Grimo from nuts obtained from Experimental work done at the Geneva Experimental Farm in NY. It is considered a good pollinizer cultivar for all zone 6 selections. It is a good producer of extra-large oval nuts. The tree is a moderate alternate bearer. The nuts are early October ripening so can be harvested when the early cultivars are out of the orchard.

‘Alex’ – (formerly ‘Grimo 186M’). This is a highly blight resistant, possibly immune, seedling of ‘Faroka’. ‘Faroka’ is a Turkish x European hybrid cross made by Jack Gellatly of West Bank, BC. ‘Alex’ is upright, large and moderately productive. It is considered a good pollinizer. The nut is oval shaped, moderately large and well-filled with a clean kernel. The nuts ripen the last week of September and drop clean from the husk. It has good resistance to bud mite.

‘Matt’ – (Formerly ‘Grimo 208D’). This is a highly blight resistant, possibly immune, seedling of ‘Faroka’, a sister tree to ‘Alex’. The tree is large, upright and moderately productive with a tendency to alternate bearing. It is introduced as a pollinizer cultivar. The nut is moderately large, oval in shape, well-filled with a clean kernel. The nuts ripen at the end of September and drop clean from the husk. It has good resistance to bud mite.

‘Grand Traverse’ – This is a ‘Faroka’ cross made by Cecil Farris, a Michigan backyard breeder. ‘Grand Traverse’ has high blight resistance, possibility immunity. It is productive and forms a large tree. The nut is clean, moderately large in size and well-filled. The nuts drop clean from the husks about the last week of September. It has good resistance to bud mite.

‘Norfolk’ – Martin Hodgson from Courtland, Ontario started with 5000 seedling hazelnut trees and after 20 years, this is one of his selections that survived filbert blight and hardiness tests. The tree is hardy to zone 5b and produces a medium sized oval nut. It is considered a pollinizer cultivar for Ontario. The nuts ripen mid-season and are suitable for the fresh market.

‘Chelsea’ – Martin Hodgson selected this one from his test trials also. The nut and trees are similar to ‘Norfolk’ above. It is a suitable pollinizer for Ontario zone 5b-8. The nuts can be collected together since they are similar.

Northern Cultivars

Cultivars for zone 4-5, have been selected to extend the zone where hazelnuts can be grown. These are hybrids of Asian/Quebec, Saskatchewan and Wisconsin sources. These hybrids come from 3 distinctly different backgrounds and offer an opportunity for growers to produce nuts that are larger and more productive than wild sources in their regions.

The Asian/Quebec and Saskatchewan trees ripen the nuts by the end of August, two weeks before the earliest European or European hybrids. There is the possibility that they could be used as pollinizers for the European selections as well as suitable selections for the colder climate zones of 4-5.

Planting Plans

It is advisable to plant early and late cultivars in adjacent rows to avoid mixing of the nuts where this is not desirable. Selections that are round will not appear attractive when mixed with oval nuts, nor will they roast evenly together. Ferrero only accepts certain varieties and so some harvested mixtures would need to be directed to other outlets. By planting several rows of one selection with later or earlier ripening pollinizers between, allows for two separate harvests that keeps the varieties separate. The following planting plan will illustrate this idea. It is also advisable to have 3 or more pollinizer cultivars in the orchard to be certain that adequate pollinizing is occurring. It is also possible to collect pollen in advance and spread it with a blower if spring conditions are not deemed favourable.

Option 2 is suggested as an alternative that leaves out ‘Jefferson’ in the planting. This will reduce the need for as many sprays for filbert blight, possibly eliminate them. ‘Gamma’ then becomes the second main crop cultivar as well as one of the pollinizers. Tree spacing is suggested at 18 x 18 feet (5.5 x 5.5 M) for the final spacing. Double density planting is considered as a way of getting double the product in the early years while the trees are small. This could be for 5-10 years depending on soil and growing conditions. Trees to be removed could be moved with a tractor tree spade to a new orchard site and be productive in a few short years.

Pest Control

Blue jays are a major pest in hazelnuts. They carry away the nuts as they ripen and flocks are capable of substantially reducing the crop. It takes two or more deterrents to keep them away. Bird Gard is an electronic device that mimics the distress call of various birds including the eastern blue jay as well as the attack call of a hawk. This alone is only moderately effective for a short time. Coupled with several Scare Eye balloons hanging 4 metres up around the orchard, the results are more remarkable. Further controls may be necessary as the ripening season progresses. Other pests can include squirrels, opossums, voles, mice and crows. These can be controlled with traps, and other devices.

Other References

SONG strongly recommends membership in the Ontario Hazelnut Association for the serious hazelnut grower. To get further information on growing hazelnuts commercially, the following references are available from:

* A fact sheet: produced by the Ontario Government: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/12-011.htm

*The Grimo Nut Nursery website: at http://www.grimonut.com Click on the “Hazelnut Orchards” tab.

* The Upper mid-west USA http://www.midwesthazelnuts.org/

* The Northern Nut Growers Association: http://www.nutgrowing.org/

* Rutgers University: breeding by Dr. Thomas Molnar http://agproducts.rutgers.edu/hazelnuts/

* The Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium: breeding by Dr. Thomas Molnar https://www.arborday.org/programs/hazelnuts/consortium/

Cobnuts, Filberts and Hazelnuts – what’s the difference? The words are widely interchangeable, with Hazelnuts being the most generic. Cobnuts are hazelnuts that are cultivated for consumption, sold fresh rather than dried; the nuts are usually larger – longer, more ovoid, than wild hazelnuts. Filberts are a subsection of Cobnuts, to be classed as a Filbert the husk must completely enclose the nut. The confusion is not helped by the fact that the most popular variety to be cultivated, Lambert’s Filbert, is commonly known as a Kentish Cobnut.

Hazels are the nut most suited to the British climate as, unlike sweet chestnuts or walnuts, they will set a crop even in the worst summers. The catkins, which appear in spring, are the male flowers and wind is sufficient to pollinate the inconspicuous red female flowers on the same branch. Although the ideal soil for hazels is said to be a deep, damp, limestone, they survive in a wide variety of situations and are present in woodland and hedgerow all of the British Isles, forming multi-stemmed thickets that may be harvested for bean or pea sticks. Left un-pruned the tree would eventually grow to about 20ft, but if you intend to harvest the nuts it is better to keep them at a height of no more than 7ft. At this height they can form an under-storey beneath oaks or beeches.

One of the main reasons that cobnuts became associated so closely with Kent is that they were harvested just before hops, so the same pickers moved from one crop to the other. Also the soil around the Sevenoaks area seems particularly to suit them – not limestone but a free-draining, pH neutral, Ragstone.

If you are hoping to eat the nuts you will have to deal with your main competitor – grey squirrels. They will strip a tree in no time. Eating the squirrels is one option, their flesh is, unsurprisingly given their diet, quite nutty in flavour and so the two flavours combine well on the plate.

Hazelnuts produce delicious oil with which to dress salads. It has been available mail-order from Hurstwood Farm for the last couple of years and this year is joined by a deluxe roasted nut version. When fresh the flesh of cobnuts is crunchy yet slightly milky. Eat them just as they are, with cheese or, if you have plenty, as the star ingredient in a Cobnut tart. Roasting the nuts intensifies the flavour, a point to bear in mind when cooking with them. After roasting grind only what you need for immediate consumption as the nuts will store better whole. For the same reason, when buying any nut oil do check carefully that you are getting the latest vintage as it goes rancid fairly quickly. Keep in a cool place and use ideally within three months but certainly before the start of the next season.

There really is no reason why, as a country, we should not become self-sufficient in hazelnuts. Nuts are extremely good for us, and if we produced more we might be greater users of them. Here are some quick ideas and classic pairing, for more detail see Recipes.

Cobnut classic combinations:

Cheese – serve fresh cobnuts or include them in the accompanying bread

Damsons/Plums – in season at the same time, try a proportion of cobnuts in a crumble topping

Chocolate – the Piedmont region of Italy is famed for its hazelnut chocolate (Gianduia)

Honey – hazelnuts are often preserved in a jar of honey

Raspberries – autumn raspberries with hazelnut meringue

The Great American Hazelnut Hunt

In that decade, Ferraro Rocher’s factory has quadrupled in size and it now processes 24,000 tons of those goodies’ primary ingredient, after chocolate: hazelnuts.

But the company has to buy over 90 percent of its hazelnuts from Europe, because, ever since colonial times, stateside attempts to grow enough hazelnuts to rival European production have failed miserably.

North America has its own hazelnut variety – Corylus Americana. It tastes as good as its European cousin, but is just one-quarter the size, with a thick shell that stays tightly in its husk when mature, compared to European nuts that fall on the ground, says Tom Molnar, associate professor in the Department of Plant biology and Pathology at Rutgers University. Taken together, its characteristics mean that not only do American hazelnut trees produce less than their European relatives, the meat is harder to harvest.

Ambitious hazelnut farmers have repeatedly tried to cultivate the prized European hazelnut (Corylus avellana) on North America’s east coast and met defeat.

Ambitious hazelnut farmers have repeatedly tried to cultivate the prized European hazelnut (Corylus avellana) on North America’s east coast and met defeat. The trees fall victim to either a slightly-too-cold climate or, most often, an endemic disease called Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB). The blight is caused by a fungus called Anisogramma anomala that naturally occurs on the indigenous American hazelnut, but causes only minor damage. But to nearly all commercially important European hazelnut varieties, it means almost certain death. EFB causes branch die-off and eventual death within 4 to 8 years of exposure.

What’s a North American hazelnut farmer to do? The obvious answer is to create a hybrid of the native and European versions – and try they have. But such attempts have failed, mostly thanks to EFB. But you can’t keep a good hazelnut advocate down that easily.

“If you had productive plants, you could harvest them, but not in competition with the European nut,” says Molnar, a lead researcher for the Hybrid Hazelnut Research Consortium, a group working to develop a tree on par with Europe’s.

Roasted hazelnuts before and after being rubbed to remove pellicle. Hazelnut male flowers. Eastern Filbert Blight close up of stromata. 5-year-old hazelnut yield trial at Rutgers.

And that competition is serious, given the size of the global hazelnut market, and its potential growth in North America. Hazelnuts are the world’s fifth-largest tree nut crop, at approximately 430,000 tons of kernels harvested annually, worth $3.3 billion. Today, the U.S. produces a measly 3% to 4% of that crop, and Americans eat only 8 ounces of hazelnuts per year, compared to 4.4 pounds for a European.

As a crop, the tree is near-perfect: a low-input, low-impact woody perennial that lasts 30 to 40 years, requiring no pesticides, reducing soil erosion and nutrient runoff, sequestering carbon and providing wildlife habitat. Hazelnut trees are profitable, generating a gross income of between $3,000-$4,000 an acre per year, and that’s not counting any revenue from truffles that can be germinated to grow among their roots, as is done in Europe.

In addition to the nuts and their use in various foods, the hazelnut kernel is 50%-75% oil, and in cooking is equivalent to olive oil, says Scott Josiah, director of the Nebraska Forest Service and Consortium researcher, in a presentation at the 2014 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum. And its wonders don’t end in the kitchen: as a bio-diesel feedstock, Josiah says, it is superior to the soybean, with better viscosity at lower temperatures and twice the yield per acre. Finally, hazelnuts remnants can be ground into meal that makes a high-quality, gluten-free feed for humans or animals.

Little wonder then, that in the last 100 years, several plant botanists have attempted to develop better-adapted, disease-resistant hazelnuts for the eastern United States by combining the best of Corylus americana with Corylus avellana. But these attempts always fizzled before developing commercially viable trees, and commercial production of hazelnuts in the United States, starting in the late 1800s, was confined to Washington and Oregon. The Willamette Valley still produces all of the U.S. market’s hazelnuts.

Only after the EFB fungus sneaked into southwestern Washington in the 1960s and later into Oregon’s Willamette Valley did the Great American Hazelnut Hunt really commence. With typical efficiency, EFB eliminated most production in Washington and heavily impacted the latter with the costly production headache of scouting for cankers, pruning and applying fungicides.

“Getting EFB was bad for Oregon’s industry, but the fact that EFB made its way out there caused the USDA and Oregon Department of Agriculture to spend millions on the disease that was affecting a commercial crop,” says Molnar. “We have been trying to breed hazelnuts in the East for 100 years, but the research didn’t go very far because it had no industry to support it, and once the breeder died, it would sputter out.”

Since 1996, the Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium has been working behind the scenes to breed a robust tree. Using advances and plants developed in Oregon, they’ve identified “14 superior selections” that are several years into farm testing in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Ontario. The Consortium hopes these predominantly European-American hybrids will produce a kind of Great American Hazelnut: a high-yielding, insect- and EFB-resistant, cold-hardy, heat-tolerant hazelnut of commercial taste and appeal.

‘We think we have plants that could be the basis of an industry in the East.’

“We think we have plants that could be the basis of an industry in the East,” says Molnar, who wants his farmers selling to the likes of Ferrero Rocher, the popular candy maker. His goal is to release the best two or three performers of the farm trials to nurseries in three or four years.

While still not quite on par with Europe’s best offerings, Molnar thinks that the next generation of U.S. hazelnut tree will please both farmers and consumers.

Furthermore, Molnar believes that future versions of the tree, which are just emerging from development at the university, may even rival the world’s best. But it will be several years before this newest generation of hazelnut trees gets into farmers’ hands.

As the Consortium begins to roll out selected hybrids, Eastern U.S. farmers can begin to dream of what their ancestors never could: A delicious, profitable crop that produces multiple streams of farm income with little headache.

Photographs courtesy of Rutgers University.

Hazelnut Growing: How To Grow Filbert And Hazelnut Trees

Hazelnut trees (Corylus avellana) grow only 10 to 20 feet tall with a spread of 15 feet, making them suitable for all but the tiniest home gardens. You can let them grow naturally as a shrub, or prune them into the shape of a small tree. Either way, they are an attractive addition to the home landscape. Let’s learn more about hazelnut growing.

How to Grow Filbert Trees

Hazelnut trees, also called filbert trees, are hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 8. When growing hazelnuts in the coldest part of this range, choose American hazelnuts, which are more cold tolerant than the European types. Temperatures below 15 F. (-9 C.) after the flowers bloom can cause crop loss.

Hazelnuts need 15 to 20 feet of space to spread. They adapt to almost any soil as long as it is well-drained, but perform best in a soil with plenty of organic matter.

Dig the planting hole twice as wide as the root ball and just deep enough that the soil line of the tree will be even with the surrounding soil. Set the tree in the hole and backfill with the soil you removed. Press down with your foot as you go to remove air pockets. Water the soil around the tree slowly and deeply after planting.

You’ll need to plant two different varieties for good pollination.

Hazelnut Care

Never allow the soil around a hazelnut tree or shrub to dry out completely. Water weekly during dry spells, allowing as much water as possible to sink deep into the soil.

Hazelnuts don’t need regular fertilization if they are grown in good soil. If you notice slow growth and pale leaves, the plant will probably benefit from a small amount of nitrogen fertilizer in spring.

Hazelnuts need little or no pruning when grown as a shrub, other than the removal of suckers that arise from the roots. To shape a tree, choose six strong upper branches to form the main scaffolding, and remove the lower branches as well as those that hang down.

Hazelnuts drop from the tree as they ripen in fall. Rake the nuts into a pile for easy harvest, and gather them every few days. The first nuts may be empty.

If you’re looking for a small tree or shrub that is practical as well as attractive, consider the hazelnut. Growing this hardy plant is easy, and you’ll enjoy the first nuts from your tree in as little as four years.

The internet is full of fabulous facts about everything from current events to the history basket weaving and hazelnut fun facts. As we research for our daily content on food trucks, food carts and street food, we stumble upon some items of knowledge that we just did not know.

We have decided when these fun facts pop up, that we would share them with our readers in our section titled “Did You Know?”

For today’s Did You Know we will look at Hazelnut Fun Facts.

Hazelnut Fun Facts: Hazelnut is the nut of the hazel and therefore includes any of the nuts deriving from species of the genus Corylus, especially the nuts of the species Corylus avellana.

  • Turkey is the largest producer of hazelnuts in the world with approximately 75% of worldwide production.
  • Hazelnuts are produced in commercial quantities in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Georgia, Serbia, in the south of the Spanish region of Catalonia, in the UK county of Kent and in the American states of Oregon and Washington.
  • The hazelnut became Oregon’s official State Nut in 1989.
  • June 1st is National Hazelnut Cake Day.
  • Hazelnut oil, which is not excessively greasy and slightly sweet, can be used for food preparation and cosmetic purposes.
  • Is it a Filbert or a Hazelnut? There’s truly no wrong answer. Filbert is the correct name for both the tree and nut. The name is of French origin, and filbert trees were likely first introduced into Oregon by early French settlers. Some thought filbert was derived from St. Philibert, as August 22 is dedicated to him, corresponding to the earliest ripening date of filberts in England.
  • Hazelnut is the name coined by the English and applied to the native species by early settlers. In 1981, the Oregon Filbert Commission decided to conform to the common standard and began emphasizing “hazelnut.”
  • Hazelnut trees can produce until over 80 years of age.
  • The hazelnut is unique in that it blooms and pollinates in the middle of winter. Wind carries the pollen from yellow catkins to a tiny red flower, where it stays dormant until June, when the nut begins to form.
  • In Ancient Rome, it was customary to offer a hazelnut plant, the Corylus avellana, in the belief that it brought happiness. In the French tradition, on the other hand, this plant symbolizes fertility.
  • In Germanic countries, hazelnuts are widely used in the form of flour for preparing cakes. The most famous of these is Linzer Torte, a pastry torte with a redcurrant jam filling.

Hazelnut Fun Facts We Missed

Let us know if we may have missed any hazelnut fun facts in the comment section below. If we can verify that the facts is just that, a fact, we will give the reader credit in the article.

Reference: Wikipedia: Fun Facts about Hazelnuts.

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Learn About Hazelnuts

  • Anthracnose: This is a fungus disease that attacks the nuts as they are ripening. The first visible sign is a circular spot on the skin that is slightly sunken. The spots enlarge and turn black; the nut rots. Extended periods of heat and humidity facilitate anthracnose growth. The fungus overwinters in diseased plant debris. Burpee Recommends: Plant resistant varieties, provide sufficient space between plants for good air circulation, avoid overhead watering which can spread the fungus spores, keep a clean garden, remove and discard all diseased plant material and rotate crops. Use a mulch to prevent spores from splashing from the soil onto plants.
  • Blight: This usually only occurs in young trees. Small oozing cankers appear on the branches and buds, usually in warm weather. Cankers may continue to completely encircle infected branches and kill them. Burpee Recommends: Practice good garden hygiene at the end of the season and discard, do not compost, possibly diseased plants. Space plants to allow for adequate air circulation. Avoid overhead watering which may spread fungus spores. Prune all infected branches below cankers. Contact your county extension for recommendations in your area.
  • Eastern Filbert blight: Cankers initially appear on the branches near the top of the tree. Cankers later appear on any part of the plant causing leaves to rapidly wilt and branches to dieback. The disease spreads during wet weather. Burpee Recommends: Plant resistant varieties; Burpee’s hazelnuts are resistant to this disease. Prune out branches and twigs ensuring that the cut be made at least a foot below the canker.
  • Powdery Mildew: This fungus disease occurs on the top of the leaves in humid weather conditions. The leaves appear to have a whitish or greyish surface and may curl. Burpee Recommends: Avoid powdery mildew by providing good air circulation for the plants by good spacing and pruning. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.
  • Rust: A number of fungus diseases cause rust colored spots on foliage and stalks. Burpee Recommends. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.
  • Common Pest and Cultural Problems

  • Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps which feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.
  • Leafhoppers: Leafhoppers cause injury to leaves and stunt growth. They also spread disease. Burpee Recommends: Remove plant debris. Use insecticidal soaps. Consult your Cooperative Extension Service for other insecticide recommendations.
  • Japanese Beetles: Burpee Recommends: Hand pick early in the morning into a bucket of soapy water.
  • Scale: Small bugs look like brown, black, gray to white bumps on the stems of plants. Scale may not have any apparent legs and may not move. Scales have a sucking mouth part. Scale may produce honeydew so leaves and stems may be sticky. Scale can weaken the plant causing it to grow very slowly and may wilt at the middle of the day. Burpee Recommends: Completely spray the stems with Insecticidal soap. For a severe infestation contact your local County Extension Service for recommendation for your area.
  • Spider Mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for miticide recommendations.
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