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New Hazelnuts Show Promise

Hybrid hazelnuts will open new opportunities for nut production.

Hybrid hazelnutsResearchers are developing a group of hazelnuts that will open new opportunities for nut production in North Dakota. These “hybrid hazels” combine the hardiness and disease resistance of our native hazelnuts with the large size and superior flavor of European types. It’s a perfect combination!

European hazelnuts are prized for their flavor. They are used in decadent chocolates, cakes, candies and coffees. Demand for hazelnuts is expected to grow as people become more aware of its health benefits.  The nuts are rich in vitamins, protein and heart-healthy fats. Hazelnut oil is almost identical to extra virgin olive oil, one of the healthiest cooking oils.

Hybrid hazels are hardy to at least Zone 4 and show tolerance to marginal soils and drought. The multi-stemmed shrubs grow up to 12 feet high and wide, and are spaced about 4 feet apart in rows. Their growth habit is similar to lilacs. Hazels show promise for use as a home windbreak, living snow fence or as a field crop. At least two shrubs are needed for production. 

Hybrid hazels have shown no major insect or disease problems at this time. The most noteworthy pests have been squirrels and crows, who desire the nuts as much as you do. Researchers envision this to be a challenge in urban settings but less so in field production.

The shrubs start producing in four years and reach their peak after 8 years. Yields of 1–2 pounds per bush can be expected.

The Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium is developing superior varieties and production strategies. Plants and production tips are available online from Badgersett Research Corporation and Riverbend Hazelnuts.

Sources: 
Arbor Day Foundation. Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium. Accessed June 2017. 
Badgersett Research Corporation. Characteristics of Badgersett hybrid hazels. Accessed June 2017.
Braun, L. and J. Jensen. 2015. Growing hybrid hazelnuts. Rural Advantage.

Photo courtesy of Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium blog.  

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