The Greenhouse Report: Hybrid Hazelnuts

Feb 04 by in General, Greenhouse tagged , with 4 comments


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.

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  • Ben says:

    Does anyone know where any native hazelnuts are in Nebraska?

  • Ruth P. Swart says:

    We live in Nemaha C. Kansas. In our timber are several native hazlenut groves. we have moved several to our home. They bear “small” nuts.

  • John Carney says:

    Received 3 trees early this spring. I planted each of them in a 4″ PVC tube/3 tubes in a 5 gallon bucket. This I thought was a good idea to get them started.
    Only one rooted and started growing. It had small leaves. The leaves have recently died. I am hoping the root system is still alive.
    The other two never started a root system. I have since pulled the two of them out of the tubes.
    Would like to try again if you can send me 3 more.
    John Carney
    565 Solon Rd.
    Bentleyville, OH 44022-3334

  • Lindsay says:

    Hi John!

    My name is Lindsay and I work for the Arbor Day Foundation.

    I am so sorry to hear that your two hazelnuts didn’t take root. I have gone ahead and set up a Fall replacement for you. Your hazelnuts should arrive towards the end of November/beginning of December. They will arrive in the white plastic bag right to your mailbox like they did this Spring.

    Even though it will be chilly in OH at that time, you are still able to plant the hazelnuts and they will stay in their dormant or hibernating state all winter and will leaf out in the Spring.

    When you plant the hazelnuts we’ve found the best success by planting them outside in the ground as soon as they arrive. You can certainly dig the holes earlier and have the ground ready for when the Hazelnuts arrive.

    Please stay away from any Miracle-Gro or fertilizers for the first few years. If you need to put anything in the soil make sure it is organic and doesn’t have chemicals as chemicals can cause root burn.

    Please let me know if you have any additional questions! Thank you so much for supporting the Arbor Day Foundation Hazelnut Project, we truly appreciate it!

    Thanks again,

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