Friday, November 8, 2013


OK. I am finally updating. I meant to update during harvest, but things just got busy.

We had a very good crop this year! Lots of nuts from lots of trees. I think the hot pepper spray is working its magic on the squirrels.

On the last post I talked about how to tell if the nuts are ready to be picked. Here is an example showing pushing on them with your thumb and seeing if they roll out. (I can't get the pictures side-by-side, if you know how, let me know)
 These nuts are ready to be picked!

We harvested hazelnuts until about mid-September. There is such a wide range of genetic diversity for the different hybrids that they all ripen at different times. If we just had one or two of all the same kind then we would only have to harvest them for a week and then we would be done! 

Dan did most of the hazelnut picking, with me coming out to help on a couple weekends. I estimate that he had over 200 (small paper) bags, each from a different tree. 
Here are some pictures of the hazelnut picking process.
Dan pulling the branches of the hazelnut down to a reachable height.

Searching the branches for nuts. You have to look really carefully at each branch because they will really blend in.
Found one!

A couple of bags full of nice looking hazelnuts

 Here is the fancy hazelnut picking cart with all the essentials: Bags, notebooks, label supplies, water for the pickers...
Dan showing off one of the hazelnuts he's working on picking.

The next post I'll talk about the best part of the hazelnut growing process... the taste-testing!

Monday, August 19, 2013

...and so the battle begins!

The hazelnuts are just starting to ripen!

Now we just need to collect them before the squirrels can get to them. We started spraying them last week with our hot pepper spray, (see August 17, 2012 post for recipe), which seems to help deter the squirrels from completely wiping out he hazelnut crop. My dad has also been live-trapping the squirrels and moving them (hopefully) far enough away so they don't come back. Going over a couple rivers helps as well.

Above is just a few of the various different hazelnuts we have. They come in all shapes and sizes as you can see by the husks, and they will ripen at different times as well (from now until mid-September, depending on the variety). The middle picture shows them just starting to ripen. You can see them turning a tannish brown color. However, color is not usually the best way to tell if they are ripe. You can see if they are ripe by putting your thumb on the end of the hazelnut and pushing sideways. If they are ripe they will come right out. If not, they will stay attached to the back of the husk. We usually test a few hazelnuts from all over the bush and if they all come out then we can collect the whole plant.

Dan starting collecting hazelnuts this weekend, and I will be going out to help sometime this week, so more pictures of the hazelnut collecting process will be posted shortly.

Just for fun, can you spot where the hazelnuts are on this plant?? They blend right in!

Here is just a few of them circled!! It takes a lot of moving of the branches to spot all of them.

Just for comparison, here is what they hazelnuts looked like on June 16. They start out so tiny!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Fall Color and Fun Stuff

I'd thought I would update with some fall color pictures. The fall color seems to vary with the variety/species. The american hazelnuts (native) Corylus americana, have a nice red color. The european hazelnuts, Corylus avellana, have a yellow fall color. For the hybrids, you can see which has more genes from the american or european from the fall color.
(I could not get this pictures to go side by side, so I made them all large and center)
Some nice red fall color
Small hazelnut plant by my parents' deck.

You can see the variety of colors from green to yellow to orange of the hybrids
Hazelnuts on both sides
Hazelnuts with black chokecherry in between (the trees)

This is a ripe hazelnut bunch. The shape and size of the husk really varies with each hybrid. These look leafy and are slightly open. The more open they are (showing the nut inside) the easier they are to get out of the husk. 
The new fence my dad put up this year to keep the deer out! The owl will (hopefully) scare squirrels away.
You can see the big different from the previous hazelnut bunch. These are smoother and look juicer (it'll get juice on your hands that usually is irritating to the skin). These are harder to get out of the husk.
Can you spot the hazelnuts on this branch? They are very hard to see!

This is Dan Johnson (my dad), founder of Riverbend Hazelnuts, modeling the fancy chair he made out of hazelnut branches!

You can see hazelnut plants are very multi-purpose. You can cut them down to the ground for wood, and they will sprout new branches right from the ground.
Yes, that is a hazelnut in the background with the wonderful red fall color.