Rich and Nancy had the privilege of attending the British Columbia Hazelnut Tour in Agassi / Chilliwack, B.C. on Aug 23. Pentti and Deborah Hanninen invited us to bunk at their beautiful home, overlooking a mature Barcelona orchard, in Chilliwack.
The BC hazelnut growers, about 800 acres total, are facing the same Eastern Filbert Blight issues that have concerned Oregon growers, they are just about 10 years behind us. Due to import restrictions, they are having to start the new varieties in-vitro. They are doing some testing on OSU released varieties to determine pollen shed and bloom timing for their area. All in all, we see an industry that is moving forward. They have blight, in some cases it is pretty serious, but they have the advantage of watching to see how we have handled it in the states, so they are a huge step ahead of where we were in the beginning.
In part, due to very high land prices, most of the hazelnut orchards are small organic farms. Many of the growers have integrated operations from growing to value added products. Their variety of products is impressive – and tasty!
The Fraser River Valley is an amazingly beautiful area. The growers, though few in number, are warm, hospitable people. We enjoyed our visit immensely.