The three young hazelnut trees I’ve planted in the orchard all survived the winter and are in bloom. Each plant has male and female flowers. The males are long catkins filled with pollen. The females are tiny, round, bud-like forms with projecting bright red styles. Hazelnuts are wind pollinators, which explains why such copious amounts of pollen are produced. The plants must cross-pollinate to produce nuts, they are not self-pollinating. The woods are full of wild hazelnuts in bloom; some of their pollen could also easily reach my little trees.
The largest hazelnut bush grows in leaps and bounds every year. This spring I trimmed out some of the oldest, least productive limbs. I gave the trimming to my rabbits. Bunnies love hazelnut wood! This largest plant has produced a crop of nuts for the past 3 years or so. This year it is covered in blooms, so if all goes well I will have hazelnuts to eat in September.
The other two trees are smaller. One, the same age as the the largest bush, is only starting to thrive after its transplant a few years ago. The other hazelnut survived the second winter. The white bags on this tree are an experiment I conducted over the winter. Last year, the poor sapling was nibbled by deer. The original leader was nipped off and a side branch has become the new leader. I had heard of placing human hair in cloth bags and tying them to the branches to deter deer. When my husband got a haircut last fall, I collected the hair and tucked it in some small muslin bags I had on hand. To my surprise, the tree was not touched by the deer last winter, although they had plenty of opportunity. So perhaps this strategy actually works! I’m glad, since this was an expensive little hazelnut, purchased from Stark Bros. nursery. The other two were quite inexpensive and came from The Arbor Day Foundation. I bought the Stark tree because it is supposed to produce large nuts. Hazelnuts are my favorite for eating, so I’m rooting for these trees to do well.