Saturday, September 3, 2016

Hazelnut Harvest 2016

Early Harvest

I'm finally posting an update about harvest. It has been a hectic summer, finishing the fencing for the new planting area, planting a row of seeds in an open field, potting up the new seedlings, harvest, and of course vacation. Most of these seem to happen at the same time.

This years harvest started on the August 8. That's 3 days earlier then last year and over a week earlier then the average harvest.

This year we had some unusual husks. The husk usually encloses the whole nut, but half of the husk is missing. I think this was due to the late hard frost (26ºF) we had this spring when the hazelnuts were flowering. The hard frost might also be the cause of the low number of nuts on most plants. 

This is another picture of deformed husks from a different plant.

This is a normal husk, but this plant flowers a little later the others, and it's also in an area that's a little more protected from a frost. 

When do you pick the nuts? Most think the color will determine when to pick the nut or when the nuts fall out. I've found that if you wait that long the squirrels would have removed most of the crop.

I pick the nut when the abscission layer forms between the husk and the nut. To find out if this layer has formed I roll back the husk and press with my thumb. If the nut pops out they can be picked. Not all nuts ripen at the same time on each plant, so I check in several locations.

Here I've just checked a couple places, usually close to the bottom and on the top. Both were easily removed from the husk. I then remove all the hazelnuts from that plant and I'm ahead of the squirrels  most of the time!

While on our vacation to Alaska we stopped in Vancouver for a day and I just had to check out their  hazelnut crop. I just hope they didn't mind me going through their yards! Most were the European Filbert (Corylus Avellana) or a close relative. I sure wanted to take some with me but I don't think they would have made it through customs. They probably wouldn't have survived a North Dakota winter.

 Major squirrel damage this year, probably due to lack of other natural food, such as acorns, ash seeds, black walnuts, plums, and apples. All of these plants just happened to be flowering and leafing out during the late hard frost. The temperature was 26º F most of the night. I also was on vacation for 2 weeks and unable to use my hot pepper spray. ( see August 17, 2012 post for the recipe)

This spring I planted a row of hazelnuts in an open field to see how many would germinate. The hazelnuts were stratified in a refrigerator for the winter to eliminate rodents from removing the nuts. I had about a 40% that germinated, but lost quite a few during the dry spring. I also had to put cages around  the plants to keep the rabbits and deer from clipping them off. 

These seedlings came up on June 6 after a good ran. They are about 3 to 4 inch high and have about 4 leaves. Most look in good shape, but some look like they need a little moisture to make it through the winter.

These are plants I've started inside. The one on the right is a seedling from this year which is about 12 inches tall with 8 leaves. The plant here is over a year ahead of the ones planted in the field and will produce nuts earlier.

The three plants starting from the left are 2 year old, 1 year old, and a seedling started in March.

If your interested in purchasing these or looking at a mature hazelnut plant, contact me at or call 701-361-8581.