Tree of the Week

Arbor Day Farm Hazelnut: Hazel of the Future

By Sheereen Othman | November 15, 2016

Corlyus spp.

Twenty years ago, a cherry orchard that once covered the slope behind Lied Lodge & Conference Center was replaced with 5,200 hazelnut bushes representing 60 promising hybrids. The hazelnuts were planted as part of a new venture with Philip Rutter—a pioneer in hazelnut research and founder of Badgersett Research Corporation—to develop a hybrid hazelnut that could be used in commercial production. We called them Arbor Day Farm hazelnuts.

Nuts from the newly planted bushes were sent to members to plant in varying conditions throughout the United States to help in developing the hybrid. The hazelnuts are part of the research in the Hybrid Hazelnut Project. While these hazelnuts are not commercially cultivated (yet), the Hazelnut Project is working to develop a hybrid that would offer all the great benefits of an American hazelnut, beaked hazelnut and European, and still resist Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB).

Check out this year’s Arbor Day Farm hazelnut harvest.

Hazelnuts are naturally grown as a bush, however Arbor Day Farm hazelnuts can reach up to 15 feet in height with canopies stretching as much as 10 feet. Even the standard three to five foot hazelnut bush can be pruned into a small tree if desired. Arbor Day Farm hazelnuts grow well in a wide range of soils (hardiness zones 3-9) and grow two to three feet a year. The shrub starts to produce nuts in 4-5 years.

Hazelnuts offer numerous benefits in nutritional value, environmental, agricultural and sustainable energy. Developing a hybrid hazelnut that can successfully grow in varying climates would not only create thousands of jobs and generate significant revenue, but it would give the U.S. the potential of becoming the world’s leading sustainable hazelnut producer and address critical issues in areas of agriculture, environment, wildlife habitat, society, health, hunger and sustainable energy. Check out the Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium to learn how we’re developing a hybrid hazelnut.

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