Tuesday, May 8, 2018

New Plants 2018

Another busy year, 2018

The nuts here germinated in 3 days after being stratified for 3 months in the refrigerator.
The stratification process involves soaking the seed to rehydrate and then placing in damp peat in plastic bags at 34º F to 40ºF for 1 to 4 months. When ready to start the germination process they are place in a covered container with damp paper towels and kept at room temperature.  They are checked daily to see if they are sprouting.
When the nuts crack and the radical begins as shown in the picture, they are then planted in tubes.

The plants in this picture are about a week old.

These are the same plants that are now 2 weeks old.

The plants here have been moved outside and are now 3 months old, and ready for sale.
If your interested contact me at, (riverbendhazelnuts@gmail.com)

Hand pollinating

Every year I hand pollinate some of my best plants and wanted to show the process I use to collected the pollen.
This first picture is showing a catkin which is the male flower that has been on the hazelnut plant since last fall.

When the catkin begins to elongate, they are removed and brought in side.

They are then placed in a warm location on a white sheet of paper for 24 hours.
The yellow dust in this picture is the pollen that has been released from the catkin.

The next step is to carefully shake and remove all the catkins until just the pollen is left on the paper.

Then the paper is folded and gently tap to fill a vial.

These are the vials of pollen from my best plants that I plan on pollinating.

Here we have the  female flower (stigmas) protruding from the hazelnut bud. The flower is rather small and some times hard to find.

To pollinate the stigmas I shake the vial to coat the end of my finger with pollen.

I then gently rub the pollen from my finger on to the stigmas.

After the flowers have been pollinated a bag is then placed back over the branch to prevent pollination from other plants.
With the cool spring this year the hand pollinating of the stigmas which usually is done the first two weeks in March was delayed until 30 of April. I usually have a week to hand pollinate the female flowers, but this year I had 2 days before the buds began to swell and cover the stigmas. It will be interesting to know how many hand pollinated followers will develop into nuts because of the late flowering and the bud swelling and covering the stigmas in just a couple days.  It appears that the stigmas do not fully appear until there are two consecutive warm days about 60ºF, and some have turned brown when the temperature dropped below 28ºF. 
Nut production might be a little low this year.  I'll give an update on my next report.  

The plants here are 4 years old, and as you can see not all are leafed out yet.
The plants in the garden tends to have a warmer micro climate inside the fence with full sun.

The 2 year old plants here are more protected and slightly more leafed out.
The term location, location rings true here.

This is a close up of the 2 year plants, and you can now see some are just starting to leaf out.

This is a picture of the orchard were the mature plants have no protection, and have just started to leaf out.
I'm wondering with almost a months delay before the plants green up if that will affect the size and taste of the nuts? 

The big question I have is will this be the normal spring for the up coming years. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Hazelnut Growers Conference and Starting new seedlings

Hazelnut Conference

I attended the  hazelnut growers conference in Owatonna, MN, where I met other people interested in developing hazelnuts for commercial growers and for home gardens. It was very interesting learning the new hazelnut research updates and processing equipment.

2018 conference schedule

I did my first presentation, which was a learning experience.

This is Lois Braun giving her presentation. I did not take any pictures because I was too busy visiting with other growers.
Thanks for the picture Lois.

Seedlings 2018

Two days after removal from refrigeration and a 80º F bath the nut has split showing the radical. I then plant these in 1 1/2 x 8 inch tubes. There will be about 10% of these nuts germinating every 2 days for the next 2 weeks. There is usually about a 40% germination rate using this method. The nuts that didn't germinate will be refrigerated for another 3 to 4 weeks. From this 2nd stratified group there is about a 90% germination rate.  

It looks like 2018 will be another busy year growing new hazelnut seedlings.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Winter 2017 & Deer

Looking at the orchard from a drone

Taken by Bryce Johnson

After clearing most of the dead elms, buckthorn, and a couple boxelders, it opened up most of the northern part of the area. In the wooden fence on the upper left corner I planted cottonwood, bur oak, silver maple, spruce, black walnut, hazelnut, and amur maple. I'm hoping by next year the trees will start blocking that cold north wind. The fenced in area is where I plant most of the newer hazelnuts plantings. In the lower left hand corner are older plants outside the deer fence, which are subjected to the deer and rabbits.

These are the hazelnut plants outside the fence. The plant on the far left has most of the bark rubbed off from a deer and by spring the rabbits will have eaten off most of the smaller immature stems.

This is a close up of that same plant outside the fence that the deer rubbed the bark off. Most stems like this will leaf out in the spring, but this one will have to be pruned out to help eliminate any diseases that might infected the plant like EFB(Eastern Filbert Blight).  Because hazelnuts are a multistem plant, it will not affect the main plant, but you will loose some nut production.

This is another plant outside the fence that the deer decided to rub. I was going to prune this plant next spring down to 4 or 5 stems and he tore up the one stem I planned  on keeping.

This is one more hazelnut plant that was done in by a deer.

These are some of my 3 and 4 year old potted hazelnut plants that I keep behind a fence away from hungry rabbits and  deer.  The plants here are covered with wood chips and snow, so they should be ready for another winter. 

These are the 1 and 2 year old potted hazelnut plants, which should be ready for sale in the spring.

This is my buddy Al (aluminum nut cracking squirrel) who is showing nuts from several different hazelnuts ready to be processed.

The first step in the process is to sort the nuts by size. As you can see Al is inspecting the hoppers under the sorter. The slat spacings on the drum are 1/4 inch on the feed side and 1 inch on the other side.

In this picture Al is watching the drum turning as the nuts fall into the different hoppers.

Al is now inspecting the different sized nuts in the hoppers.

This is the drill powered nut cracker I use for cracking the hazelnuts.
Right above Al's head is the adjustment for the different sized nuts.
I first adjust it to crack the largest nuts, then turn the adjustment 1/4 turn in for each size.
I've found by doing it this way the shell will crack leaving the meats (kernel) whole.

Al is showing us the cracked hazelnuts after they've gone through the cracker.

This is a close-up of the cracked nuts. If you look closely some of the meats are broken.

The next step in the process is separating meats from the shell. I use an aspiration system that I made from PVC pipes, shop vac, and a few 2 inch flex hoses.
In this process the material is sucked up into the first column and the lighter material moves all the way to the top and into the second column, while the heavy meats fall to the bottom of the first column.
Can you find Al in this picture?

In this picture the cracked nuts are being vacuumed up into the first column.

For the best results of separation Al is showing us that a vacuum should be about 11 inches wc

Al is inspecting the clean and separated meats (kernels).

 I placed a ruler in the basket to show the size of the kernels.
If you look close there are a few shells left and one whole nut that will be picked out by hand.

Al is now looking through the shells for whole or broken kernels after they have gone through the aspiration system. 
I was informed by my daughter that they use hazelnut shells for mulch around plants in Oregon. I'll have to try it here around some of my plants

I wanted to show this picture of Nancy and I standing in front of one of the better hazelnut plants.
This is also one of the plants the deer picked to rub off most of the bark on two stems.😠

Saturday, November 4, 2017


I'm a little late with posting fall colors, but I wanted to compare it to last years colors.

This hazelnut plant is from the fall of 2016.

This is the same plant from this fall, 2017.  The colors look almost the same, but they could be a little more of an orange color this year. The plant really has a good fall color, but the nuts from this plant are small and bitter.

This is a picture of a wild hazelnut plant in my orchard from 2016.

This is the same wild hazelnut from this fall, 2017. The color this year is a lot more reddish, and it's always the first plant to show fall colors, and was originally from northern Minnesota.

In this part of the hazelnut orchard the leaves have always been more yellow, but this year there are more orange and red colors. The green plant in the center is not a hazelnut but a raspberry patch, and you can also see some of the different sized hazelnut plants. 

The 6 year old plants in this part of the orchard have quite a large variation in colors. The tree with the bright yellow leaves close to the middle right is not a hazelnut, but a buckeye.  I planted the buckeye to try to divert the squirrels away from the hazelnuts, and found that they would not touch the nuts from the buckeye until all the hazelnuts were gone.  That was another good idea gone bad. 👎

This is an interesting picture showing colors and sizes of these two hazelnuts. The smaller red-orange colored plant in front is almost 5 ft tall, while the taller more yellow colored plant in the back ground is over 15 ft tall.  Both plants are the same age and produce a good quality nut, but taller one produces a larger quantity of nuts. 

 Developing a tree-like hazelnut plant

Most wild hazelnuts are a small shrub with suckers. The stems remain small and the plant tends to spread by suckering up from the roots.  These plants tend to be hard to control and manage in a yard or orchard.

I'm trying to develop a plant with a more tree-like structure with one truck. In this picture the 15 year old hybrid hazelnut plant has one main stem with several smaller ones on the sides, and if pruned would have just the one stem. This type would be easily manage in a yard or garden, and could be pruned into tree form.

This might look like one plant but actually its 2 plants that were planted too close together 15 years ago.  The plant on the left has one trunk with one main stem and a couple smaller stems that could be pruned off. The plant on the right also has one trunk with three main stems.  I was going to eliminate one, but both plants produce lots of excellent nuts. Next year I plan on cloning both by layering.

This is another plant that does not sucker and has several stems coming from one main truck. I'm layering this plant, because it is such a heavy producer of large thin shelled nuts,  The hollow plastic container with compost is the layered stem that I'm cloning. This stem will be moved and planted in a new location in the spring.

These are two more hazelnut plants that stay as a tight multi stem shrub, and both are good producing plants. I might have to start pruning some stems to keep the plant more open. Some of these plants have never been pruned in 16 years and I'm finding that the older branches produce smaller nuts. On some older hazelnut orchards they coppice (cut back to the ground) every 10 years, but I'll try pruning some of older branches out to open up some plants next spring.

This is nothing to do with hazelnuts but this was growing out of a Mulberry stump in the hazelnut orchard. It's a mushroom that I've never seen before, but looks very interesting.