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!