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 32 to 36 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.