The hazelnut or filbert bushes produced a nice crop this year. We have three plants. Two are the same age, with one over eight feet tall and the other languishing with no real growth and about two feet tall. I bought another hazelnut since it takes two to pollinate and I was afraid the little one would die. The new plant has put on good growth this season. I saved some human hair to place in muslin bags and hang on the little tree to try and keep the deer from nibbling it. That seemed to work last year. Once it gets big enough, the deer won’t be a threat anymore.
Most of the nuts are from the large bush. The tiny one made three nuts. The big one produced a solid dry quart of nuts in the shell. Hazelnuts form on the plant inside a large, feathery husk. There can be one to as many as five husks clumped together on one stem. The bigger the clump, the smaller the nuts. The husk is peeled away to expose the shell inside. The shell is cracked to get the nut meat. The raw nuts in the shell are usually dried for a time to age the meat. Freshly picked nuts have a higher moisture content and taste slightly different than dried nuts. I like them either way. Hazelnuts are my favorite. I’m excited to finally have decent nut production from my orchard!
The hazelnut or filbert bush has produced its first harvest! This is very exciting for me since hazelnuts are my favorite nut and this is my first attempt at growing them. The small tree is about six feet tall. The leaves are turning lovely shades of orange, mahogany and gold and the nut clusters are changing from yellow-green to dark brown. As the husks of the nuts brown, they slowly dry until the nuts inside are released to drop to the ground. I am picking nuts early, before they drop.
The first nut was the most rewarding for me because I didn’t know if the tree was able to pollinate. Without pollination it forms empty nutshells. Cracking that first nut open, I found it filled with a plump kernel of white meat. Fresh hazelnuts that haven’t been given time to dry taste like raw peanuts mixed with hazelnut, yummy in their own way.
The nut husks are large, pulpy, extravagantly frilled affairs covered with a down of short hairs and slight stickiness. They occur singly or as pairs on my tree. The husks are concealed beneath the leaves, hard to spot. At harvest time commercial growers shake the trees and sweep the nuts up with large machines. The floor of the orchard is kept bare, free of all vegetative growth, to facilitate the sweeping. I will have to pick my filberts by hand. I hope not to lose too many to dropping out of the husk into the thick grass before I can get them.
The whitish part of a hazelnut shell is oriented toward the base of the husk, closest to the branch. Since I’ve never seen a filbert tree produce, all this information is fascinating for me.
There are two hazelnuts in my orchard. The second one is tiny and failing to thrive. I sure hope it survives so I can continue to get nuts. As soon as it goes dormant I will move it a couple feet in case there is something wrong with the hole that is preventing its growth. I guess if it dies, I can always buy another.
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.