Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hazelnut Walk-n-Talk Field Day - October 6 - Lake City, MN

I'm finally getting around to updating the blog about the field day in October! It was very informative and good to meet all the other people interested in growing hazelnuts! My parents (Dan and Nancy) and I probably came the farthest!
The field day was at Norm Erickson's Hazelnut Valley Farm, where he had quite a set-up. He had an underground cold storage area, a greenhouse which contained a sorter, a  cracker, and "cleaner" for the hazelnuts, and many acres of hazelnut plants. We listened to some presentations on marketing the nuts, a pruning discussion by Lois Braun from University of Minnesota, and a hazelnut enterprise financial model. The afternoon brought processing demonstrations and an orchard tour.

Bags of hazelnuts drying outside.


 That's Norm in the white and brown hat and tan jacket.

 Dan and Nancy discussing hazelnuts.

 Layering technique was shown (propagation technique).
 Lois Braun talking about the layering technique.

 Hazelnuts ready for processing. (I think ours are bigger) :-)
Hazelnuts with farm in the background.

They inoculated the plants with EFB (Eastern Filbert Blight), and I found some branches with disease on it. I was told later by some experienced professionals, that this probably wasn't a good idea. It would have been better to test them elsewhere after good plants were selected from the orchard.

I have taken movies of the various equipment that Norm has developed.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Upcoming Hazelnut Field Day in Lake City, MN

Norm Erickson Farm - 1186 W. Lakewood Avenue - Lake City, MN
Join the Minnesota Hazelnut Foundation, Rural Advantage, and University of Minnesota for a Hazelnut Walk-n-Talk field day on Saturday, October 6, 2012, from 10am to 4pm just outside of Lake City, Minnesota at Norm Erickson's Hazelnut Valley Farm.

Hazelnuts are a multi-functional crop that can provide food, feed, fuel, fiber, and ecological function to the landscape. Hazelnut bushes are perennial, multi-stemmed, and can produce large amounts of nuts that are high in oil.

10:00am Welcome and Introductions
10:15am Marketing Nuts
10:45am Pruning Discussion
11:15am Hazelnut Enterprise Financial Model
12:00pm Potluck Lunch (bring a dish to pass)
1:00pm Hazelnuts 101
2:00pm Orchard Tour or Processing Demonstrations
3:00pm Orchard Tour or Processing Demonstrations
4:00pm Adjourn

No pre-registration is required. Bring a dish to pass for the potluck lunch. The walk-n-talk field day will be held outdoors, rain or shine. Dress accordingly.

Contacts for this event:
Jeff Jensen, Minnesota Hazelnut Foundation, 515-320-2635

From Rochester via MN Hwy 63: As entering Lake City, look for St. John's Cemetery. After the cemetery, turn right on South Cross Street and travel roughly 0.5 mile until arrive at t-intersection with West Lakewood Avenue / County Road 9. Turn right and travel roughly 0.5 mile. The hazel field will be on the right side after the elementary school and ball diamonds.

From Winona via MN Hwy 61: As entering Lake City, look for the marina. Turn left onto West Lakewood Avenue / County Road 9. Travel about 1.0 mile. The hazel field will be on the right side after the elementary school and ball diamonds.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hazelnut Field Day

My parents attended a field day hosted by the University of Minnesota on propagating hazelnuts on July 26. They were quoted in the following article!
US: The rise of Minnesota hazelnuts
It was very interesting to learn how they are propagating hazelnuts. They have been successfully propagating by layering and also soft-wood cuttings (which was previously very unsuccessful). Here are a couple pictures from the event. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Hazelnut harvest underway

The hazelnuts are starting to ripen. Well, what is left of them are ripening anyways. The squirrels have really gone crazy for them this year. We think due to lack of other natural food, such as acorns and ash seeds, the squirrels started going after the hazelnuts even before they were ripe. My dad says he has live-trapped 26 squirrels so far in the past few weeks, including two more flying squirrels.

aww!! In the second picture you can somewhat see it's arm flaps. Those guys were also relocated to the same area with some nice big trees. 

This weekend we will continue to collect hazelnuts when they become ripe. Since there is such a wide variety of plants, they will normally ripen between the end of August to the end of September. This year they ripened about two weeks earlier. My dad is continuing to spray the hazelnuts with hot pepper spray, which really does seem to help. Hopefully there will be some good hazelnuts left to collect. The squirrels seems to know which ones taste the best and go for those first. 

Also, see the right side for an introduction written by founder of Riverbend Hazelnuts- Dan Johnson (aka - my dad).

Here is the recipe for the hot pepper spray. I think it works to keep rabbits and deer from nibbling on your plants too. 

Hot Pepper Spray
(WEAR GLOVES! Goggles aren't a bad idea either)

Red Cayenne, Jalapeno, or habanero fresh peppers (cayenne for stronger mix)

Put 3 Peppers in a food processor with enough water to make a liquid. 
Strain through cheese cloth into a quart jar
Add 2 tablespoons Olive/Vegetable oil
Squirt of Elmer's glue
2 drops liquid dish-soap

Use 1 part of mixture to 10 parts water

Shake well
Spray on plant with spray bottle.

(Don't make it any strong then 30%)
Be careful not to get this in your eyes. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Attack of the Flying Squirrels

Well, maybe it was just one flying squirrel.
 This past week the squirrels have been ravaging the hazelnuts, way before ripening time. They usually start to ripen at the earliest, mid-August. The squirrels have already begun to strip the plants and eat the nuts.
Here is the evidence...
 My dad has started to spray with Hot Pepper Spray, which seems to work the best of the squirrel repellants. He has also started live-trapping and relocating them.

Last week, to his surprise (and mine), he caught a flying squirrel in the trap! I almost didn't believe him! I mean, flying squirrels live around here???

Well, evidently they do. I even looked up their territory, and while they are definitely not in any great numbers, they do, in fact, live in this area. Their habitat range is only in the Red River Valley and then Northeastern Minnesota.

NFS map USATah Dah!
You can read more about flying squirrels here.
Oh my gosh, are these not the cutest things ever??
Don't worry, he was relocated to a nicely wooded area.

This summer has so far been pretty dry. I hope the hazelnuts will fill out OK. We just got some rain yesterday and today, so hopefully that will help them out. So far we haven't irrigated the older hazelnuts, just the ones recently planted. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012


  Welcome to Riverbend Hazelnuts. My name is Kelsey Dunnell. My dad (Dan Johnson) has been growing hazelnuts as a hobby for over 20 years. He started by growing some hazelnut plants found in Roseau, MN figuring those would be hardy enough for our area. Since then he collected hazelnuts from locations all around Minnesota and North Dakota, and has ordered hazelnut plants from various companies (such as Gurney's). Most of the hazelnuts from companies were not hardy enough for our area.
   After buying some plants from Badgersett Research Farms, he tried his hand at growing hazelnuts from seed. About 10-15 years ago, he collected seed from all the best plants and got a lot of them to grow. He now has over 100 second generation plants and has continued collecting seed from the best plants and growing them as well. We now have over 200 plants with a huge range of different characteristics. Our goal is to breed a cold hardy plant with good tasting nuts that could be used as a specialty crop for farmers, or as new and interesting plant for household landscape use. The traits we are looking for in an ideal hazelnut plant are large nuts, thin shell, fall out of the husks easily, tall upright growth, and no suckering. There are many plants in our "experimental orchard" that are showing these characteristics. Our next step is to asexually propagate the best plants and try them in a new location to see if they continue to show the same characteristics.
I'll continue to update on our day to day activities so people can get more familiar with growing hazelnuts!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Welcome to the Riverbend Hazelnuts website/blog. I will be updating on our hazelnut research and breeding. More information will come soon. Thanks for checking out the site!