Growing hazelnut (or filbert) trees can be enormously rewarding. Not only do hazelnut hedges produce a tasty treat, they also attract wildlife, act as a visual screen and as a natural windbreak. Hazelnuts grow most successfully in plant hardiness zones 4 through 9, making Oregon, and more specifically the Willamette Valley, the perfect climate for growing them.
There are a few options when planting hazelnut trees. You can plant the nut straight into the soil and grow it from a seed or use an existing plant through a propagating method called layering. This method takes the shoots of an existing hazelnut tree and forces them to grow roots of their own that can later be cut and planted as a new tree. Layering works by taking a cluster of shoots, removing the leaves except for the top ones, and scratching the bark about halfway up the shoots. Then a root hormone is dusted onto the injured areas, the shoots are bent down to the ground, and the injured area is buried completely in soil. After several months, the shoots will develop their own roots.
Hazelnut trees grow fast and can become anywhere between 15 to 40 feet tall. They first begin to produce hazelnuts when they are around two to five years old. Hazelnut trees don’t rely on bees or other insects to pollinate nor do they self-pollinate. Instead, they depend solely on the wind to accomplish this vital task. Trees need to be within 65 feet of each other in order for them to successfully pollinate and produce nuts.
Hazelnuts are ready to harvest come August, after they turn from pale green to brown. It’s best to harvest them straight off the tree because if they mature too much and fall to the ground they become an easy target for wildlife and other pests such as filbert worms.
Harvesting hazelnuts isn’t difficult as the tree’s branches are very flexible, making it easy to pull them down to strip off the nuts. Once all the nuts are collected, letting them dry out in the sun for a few days makes removing the husks very easy. You can either crack them immediately or store them away for later. Hazelnuts keep extremely well and will stay good for a year or two if left in the shell.
At Hazelnut Hill, we are growers, roasters and candy makers. We have been making high-quality hazelnut products such as hazelnut candy and hazelnut chocolates for over 26 years. We have a passion for everything hazelnut and chocolate. Check out our new website to view our product line and to learn more about the all the possibilities that the hazelnut has to offer.