Now Showing – New Hazelnut Crop

For the last month we have been visiting the filbert orchards regularly to look at the fall nut crop.  Of course, it has been too early to see what the hazelnut set is, but you have to look!

Now, the end of May, first of June, we are beginning to get a glimpse at what our fall filbert crop might look like.  Nuts begin to form in May, so it takes a little time for them to show.  Unfortunately, we often see them first on the ground, after a wind or hail storm! Nature’s way of thinning, but how we cringe! By collecting a random sample of what is on the ground, we can get an idea what percentage of terminal leaf shoots have nut clusters on them.  Below is a new filbert nut cluster on a Yamhill variety Filbert tree. Photo was taken May 28.  There appear to be about 6 hazelnuts beginning to develop in this cluster.

Yamhill Hazelnut cluster - June

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Spraying in the orchard

The suckers are growing at an alarming rate!

This is the time of year that the suckers in the filbert orchard are growing like crazy.  If you ignore them for a week or two, they will get away from you and become a real issue.  Of course, that is assuming you want your orchard to be single-trunk trees.  If you are looking for a multi-trunk shrub, you have got it made!

We have spent the last 3 weeks (thankfully some of it sunny) spraying in the filbert orchards.  We have:

  • Cleaned up our tree rows with Roundup or Gramoxone
  • Pulled out all the remaining winter brush and limbs that litter the orchard floor
  • Sprayed the center alleys with Round-up to kill the grass and weeds – which helps conserve moisture.
  • Sprayed Rely to burn down the suckers.
  • Sprayed Boron – our leaf analysis last year said we were low and it is important for nut set
  • Sprayed Plantskyyd on the young trees to discourage deer browsing.

There is nothing prettier than the orchard in Spring –

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Grower’s Forum

For the last 2 years, Rich, Ben Mitchell and the group at Willamette Filbert Growers, have presented a New Grower’s Planting Forum. We have held our meeting at the Willamette Hazelnut Growers processing facility in Newberg, Oregon, in November.

This spring, we decided to expand to discuss some other topics. We met for a Spring Grower’s Forum at WHG in April.  Rich (with Ben’s input) lead the discussions about Eastern Filbert Blight in Jefferson (and Gasaway hybrids), new variety releases and what needs to be done in the orchards this season. We had over 120 people in attendance, many who were new growers.

Willamette Hazelnut Growers hosted a delicious lunch of pizza, sub-sandwiches, fruit, salad and cookies.  Following lunch, the group moved to Ben’s Jefferson orchards to look at blight in the Jefferson trees.  Ben has Jefferson trees that are from 1 to 7 years old.

Willamette Filbert Growers (sorry can’t get used to Hazelnut) will be hosting another New Growers Forum on September 8, 2012.  If you are interested in attending,  go to quick-links and click on Willamette Hazelnut Growers.  Michael would be happy to put you on our announcement list.

Willamette Hazelnut Spring Growers Forum

Willamette Hazelnut Spring Growers Forum

 

Posted in Hazelnuts, How To, New Tree Care, Nursery, Orchard Care | Tagged , , ,

Deer in the Filbert Orchard

Beautiful, graceful, Deer.  Love to see them, but……

Deer and young filbert trees do not go well together.  Deer love the tender young shoots of the new trees. About this time of year, they step out of the woods, with their new babies by their sides, and teach them to munch on those succulent treats.

A couple of deer can do a lot of damage in just a few nights. When you are beginning a new filbert orchard with 32″ sticks, and the deer munch off the new leaves as they come out, your tree is toast – with honey, so to speak.  So what can you do?  You change the honey to vinegar.

Okay, not literally, but you get the drift.  At the beginning of April, I drive through the orchard, on a John Deere Gator, with a hand sprayer and a 15 gallon spray tank filled with Plantskyyd.  Keep in mind that we are replanting within an existing orchard, so the gator works well for us. If you have a new orchard, you may need to use something a lot bigger. Anyway, I like to get the “stink” on the trees before the deer show up. My theory is that it is easier to stop a habit from forming than it is to break a behavior that has developed.

The first part of April, the leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear – popcorn to the deer.  If they taste bad, they will be less likely to eat them.  Plantskyyd is powdered blood – out of Canada. It is bitter (so they say) and it keeps the deer off.  It sticks for several months. The problem is, the trees are growing very quickly, so the new growth is not covered.  Beginning the middle of May, I will spray the 1, 2 and 3 year old trees that are shorter than 4 1/2 or 5 feet tall, every 7 to 10 days. If a young tree is misshapen for any reason, I hit the side that needs to be growing, just to keep the munchers away.  I will continue this until the first of August.  We have had very good results with Plantskyyd as long as I spray often. If I miss a week, we have damage.  We stop in August since we will be pruning off the growth they are munching.

Plantskyyd is expensive, and spraying so often takes time, but if you have a deer problem it does seem to work very well.

For more information, please feel free to e-mail Nancy on the contact page.

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Late Pollinizers

As I look out over the Yamhill hazelnut orchard today, I notice that the golden glow that was there 2 weeks ago is gone.  The pollen from the Yamhill filbert trees had been dispersed and the filbert catkins are brown and falling to the ground.  Periodically you see a tree that is still glowing with yellow catkins. These are the Epsilon that have late pollen for our Yamhill orchard.

Epsilon hazelnut pollinizers cover Yamhill's late blooms

It is very important to have pollinizers that cover the full range of time that the filbert flower for your chosen main crop variety is receptive to pollinate.

Yamhill filbert still has blooms late in the season

That is the reason it is highly recommended that you have at least 3 different pollinizers spread thoughout your orchard.  You want your pollen to cover bloom timing for early, mid and late season for the filbert variety that you have planted.

For more information on pollination and varieties click here.

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Pruning first year trees

After the first year in the field, it is absolutely essential to prune your new filbert tree.  The objective is to establish the scaffold framework that will determine the permanent shape of the tree for years to come.  Even though … Continue reading

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In Chinese culture, hazelnuts are a traditional treat for New Year

Chinese people around the world will be celebrating the Lunar New Year on January 23rd to say good bye to the year of the Rabbit and usher in the Year of the Dragon.

Why do hazelnut growers love Chinese New Year?

In Chinese culture, hazelnuts are a sacred food.  They’re particularly fond of in-shell hazelnuts.  And with the growth of the Chinese middle class globally, hazelnuts have become a premium consumer crop for middle-class Chinese celebrating with a food sacred to their traditions and indicative of luxury.

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How to prune young hazelnut trees for optimal growth

Young hazelnut trees require yearly pruning in the orchard.  It’s crucial to prune new trees to establish the scaffold structure that will end up being the framework of your adult tree.

When a tree is planted we remove all side branching, reducing the hazelnut tree to a single whip. As we plant, we top the trees at a heigth of 32″. This reduces the number of growing points remaining on the tree which allows it to put more energy into fewer branches when it wakes up in the spring.  Topping a first year tree is crucial.

Following the first growing season, we prune after the leaves have dropped. The objective is to establish the 3 to 5 main scaffold limbs of the new tree. Balance the tree with limbs on opposing sides and spaced on the main stem. Keep the limbs toward the top 1/3 of the tree if possible. Trim off 1/2 of the growth of each of the 3 to 5 limbs you have chosen.  Same as the first year, fewer growing points makes more vigorous growth.

After the second growing season (second leaf), we snip one-third of the new vertical growth from the dominant branches. If the tree has been damaged by deer or tractor blight, it may be necessary to re-establish the main leader and start over.

Some varieties will naturally grow in an upright direction (Jefferson) while others tend to be flat and wide (Yamhill). It is important to continue to snip 6″ off the tips of the main branches of Yamhill to keep it reaching upward.

Pruning from this point onwards will depend on personal preference. Remember, each branch will develop subsequent branches from the buds on them in the following years.  If you build your scaffolding carefully over the first 2 to 4 years, your tree will have the strength it needs to withstand windstorms, give maximum access for equipment, and grow a healthy canopy for nut production.

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Pruning yearling hazelnut trees

It’s hard to prune trees. Not difficult – just hard.

I just pruned a couple of ancient apple trees behind my Grandpa’s house last month, and I felt like I butchered them.  So I understand.

But the fact is, when you prune trees you make them stronger.

In the first year or two of life, the most important job your hazelnuts can do is to develop a strong root system and trunk.  Pruning your hazelnut trees down to a single whip in the first year concentrates the tree’s vital energy in the next season.  Rather than putting all of its energy into many growing points, it can focus on sending energy to a fewer number of buds.

In addition to the general concept of pruning trees for health and well-being, hazelnuts need to be shaped diligently for the first 3 to 5 years. Their natural growth pattern is that of an upright bush. Shaping your hazelnuts when they’re young ensures that the structural shape of the tree is established for it’s lifetime.

Don’t be afraid to snip all those little branches off when you plant.  Run your hand down the stem to remove all the buds on the lower 18″ of the tree. In addition, make sure you trim the height down to about 32 inches as soon as you put it in the ground.  This ensures plenty of energy going to a few growing points for a great first year’s growth.

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About gravel…

We had a meeting yesterday with a couple of fine gents who had a lot of questions about their new orchard.

The topic of gravel came up.

We chuckled a bit, because gravel is one of those hidden snafoos waiting to be discovered by the novice hazelnut farmer.

In the Willamette Valley, a lot of the good cropland that’s excellent for growing hazelnut orchards is silt and riverland. That means a lot of gravel is mixed in.

Aside from ending up in the harvest box, gravel can be hazardous when mowing. Windows near orchards, passers by or even tractor operators can all be subject to being struck by gravel that has been picked up and rifled by mower teeth.

To minimize gravel damage, first thing’s first: Don’t introduce more!  No gravel driveways close by, or rows in your orchard.  If rock is present, safety goggles and head protection should be used while mowing the orchard floor.

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