Hazelnuts or filberts are my favorite nut. Several years ago I decided to try growing my own hazelnuts. The woods are full of wild hazelnut so I figured the cultivated varieties should survive here. I bought two tiny American hazelnut trees and heeled them in a nursery bed for three years. When they reached a height of two feet, I transplanted them to a permanent spot in the orchard.
This is the third year in the orchard. One tree has taken off and the other is lagging. I probed the hole and didn’t hit any ledge so I’m not sure what the problem is with this little guy. For fertilization, two trees are required. The second tree is struggling along and does produce catkins (flowers.) I may try transplanting this tree to a different spot to make sure there isn’t a problem with the hole.
This summer I discovered nuts forming on the bigger tree. If they are not fertilized, they will be blanks, just empty shells. In a couple months or so, they will be ready to harvest and we’ll see if there are any nuts.
Hazelnuts require a soil pH above 5.6 and need boron to set nuts. They also must be pruned, a job I will tackle this winter with the big tree. These photos were taken prior to orchard mowing, so the grass is a little tall.
Pests and disease are significant problems for hazelnuts. Commercial orchards use all sorts of pesticides and herbicides to produce marketable nuts. Here at Phoenix Farm, we grow things organically. So far, knock on wood, the hazelnuts appear to not be suffering from any major problems like Eastern Filbert Blight. I’m not positive, but these may be bred to resist the blight. Guess I’ll find out. Growing hazelnuts is just an experiment. If I get some edible nuts each year, that will be reward enough for me.