Saturday, June 25, 2016

Birkemier Farms tour

We were in Oregon for my daughter's graduation. Kelsey's husband, Josh,  arranged a tour of Birkemier Farms, a large hazelnut orchard and nursery.  

Josh is the one on the left :)
Thanks Josh!

Loren Berkemier in the brown shirt gave us a very interesting tour of their hazelnut nursery.  He showed us the different types of cultivars that they are propagating. Loren informed us that they receive new introductions from Oregon State University Hazelnut Breeding Progam to test and propagate. Their main concern is resistance to Eastern Filbert Blight, which has affected a lot of their better hazelnut cultivars.

They do most of their propagation using a cloning method called layering. Layering is tying off the new immature hazelnut shoots and then adding a foot of compost for root development.  They can produce 4 to 6 from each layered plant. 

As you can see here they have many layered plants. Plants can also be propagated by tissue cultures done at a lab. The tissue culture "plugs" are then planted at the nursery.  The layered plants produce nuts in just a couple years whereas the plants started via tissue cultures take 4 to 5 years.

This cultivar has just been planted and will be layered next year. 

There hazelnuts are about 3 months ahead of the ones I raise in North Dakota.

This is the new hazelnuts in my orchard.

These hazelnut clusters are a wild varity from northern Minnesota. In this picture you can see the husk is very thick and encloses the nut.  This makes it hard to dry down and remove the nut.

This hybrid cultivar here has only a single nut, but it is easily removed from the husk.

This hybrid plant has a large cluster of nuts that are easily removed from the husk and will fall to the ground when ripe.

This cultivar also has large clusters with larger nuts that are easily removed.

Here you can see a mature hazelnut orchard in Oregon. The small tree at the right was planted to replace a plant that affected by EFB. The ground is very flat and was being graded while we were there. This is done to allow a mechanical sweeper to pick up the nuts when they fall to the ground.

Loren gave a fantastic tour and was very informative. With this new information I'll be doing a lot more cloning by layering of my best plants, but still breeding for a better hazelnut.
The Birkemier Farms link is

The Berkemier Farms also are testing Honeyberries (Haskap) at their nursery. 
The berries were ripe and very good!
They may start propagating next year for the Oregon area.

I had to put this picture of Nancy and me with the new Doctor of Botany and Plant Pathology.
Good luck Kelsey!