The Greenhouse Report: Hybrid Hazelnuts
For many of us, the hazelnut is a delicious snack, or maybe a favorite flavoring for a morning latte. But here at the Arbor Day Foundation, hazelnuts represent a sustainable crop with the potential to change the world.
A number of years ago, the Arbor Day Foundation wanted to produce a sustainable crop that would not only be a bio-fuel and a food source, but also an economical, high-yielding, widely-adaptable species that required relatively low input. That’s a pretty tall order, but after years of research, testing, and collaboration with invaluable partners, the Arbor Day Foundation established a nine-acre hazelnut orchard at Arbor Day Farm. What has grown out of this original planting in 1996 is a fascinating example of how a small idea can become reality and how that reality will continue to evolve into a sustainable program.
Currently, the Arbor Day Foundation’s hazelnut program grows more than 100,000 plug seedlings annually (like the ones shown at left) in the greenhouse operations at Arbor Day Farm. The hazelnut is a finicky species and one that requires lots of conditioning. Seed is harvested in late August and is immediately put into a moist stratification. Through a series of warm and cold stratification cycles, the seed begins to swell and emerge. These are the seeds we use for our plantings. This process ensures that each planting has a higher likelihood of producing a viable seedling. Here at Arbor Day Farm, we plant in the winter and summer months with shipping seasons being spring and fall. All seedlings are shipped to our current hazelnut members across the United States.
I invite you to learn more about the continuing research into this fascinating species. Learn more about the members of the hazelnut consortium and also learn how you can help with hazelnut research, right in your own backyard.
Adam Howard is the Manager of Nursery Operations at Arbor Day Farm and a Certified Forester with the Society of American Foresters. He has been in the forest industry for 11 years and contributes regularly to this blog. Contact Adam with your greenhouse questions.