There is an easier way to grow hazelnuts from seed. Plant the nuts in garden rows in the fall. They will germinate the first week of June. They can be moved to a permanent location in the fall right after leaf drop or in the following early spring. I've done this and lost most to squirrels, chipmunks, mice and would you believe raccoons too! You must protect them when outside!
I prefer to use this method to stratify and germinate hazelnuts.
Soak the nut in water for 12 to 24 hours to rehydrate the nut. I usually soak the nuts for about 16 hours. Then pack in plastic bags in slightly moistened (not wet) peat moss. I use peat moss because it inhibits mold and fungus. I have used damp paper towels, but lost most to mold.
This year I'm trying a hot-water seed treatment for disinfecting the surface in which I might not need the peat moss. My thanks goes to Scott Pahl of Germains seed technology.
I then stratify in the fridge at 34º F to 40º F for 4 weeks or up to 4 months. If the temp is below freezing the stratification time stops.
Remove from refrigeration and soak in 80º F water for 10 minutes and place the nuts between damp paper towels in a plastic container. Try to keep the nuts slightly separated. During this period I keep the nuts at room temperature. They will not germinate if below 50º F.
These are some of the plastic containers I use. There are about 50 nuts in each container.
I usually start this process in the first or second week in March.
In 2 to 4 days the shell will crack and the radicle will appear. I then place the germinated nuts in 6 to 8 inch deep pots with a well drained potting mix or sometimes use a mix 50/50 with sand, and that seems to work. I did this because I was low on the potting mix.
I have planted directly into the garden right after refrigeration if the soil temp is around 50*F, and that works. Remember to protect the nuts. I plant to a depth of 1 inch out side, and 1/4 inch in the pots
In this picture the hazelnuts are 5 days from removal of cold storage.
The plants here are now 10 days old, and almost all have their major leaves.
From middle of April to the beginning of May I gradually move them outside.
I have over planted again this year, and do not have room for so many plants, so I will have seedlings for sale this year. I also have about 100 one year old plants for sale.