Hazelnut production update July 28, 2021

Current Status

Nuts are developing well and harvest will be approaching soon. Squirrels and chipmunks have been very active in orchards and may eat or spoil much of the nut crop before it has a chance to mature. Refer to pg 89 of Publication 863, the Guide to Hazelnut Production in Ontario for information about control.

Terminal buds are beginning to set in certain cultivars, indicating the end of this year’s vegetative growth.

Next year’s catkins are also beginning to form on certain cultivars, including Jefferson and Yamhill.

Remember that like catkins, next year’s flower buds that eventually become nuts are formed in the current year. This means that each summer, you are managing for not one, but two years’ worth of nut crops. This means keeping your trees from experiencing water and nutrient stress during these periods of growth from June-October (see the hazelnut development calendar on page 10 of Publication 863 for more details).

Nutrient Deficiency

Sporadic and heavy rainfall has been experienced across Ontario’s hazelnut-producing regions. While it has reduced the need for irrigation and saved growers on pump fuel costs, it may have resulted in increased nutrient deficiency in trees. Heavy rains can leach mobile nutrients the soil, especially in the sandier soils that hazelnuts prefer.

Soil and foliar testing should be done every 2 years, but would be an especially good investment this year if you are seeing unusual symptoms that cannot be explained by pests. Symptoms include browning of kernels, leaf yellowing either between veins or across the entire leaf surface, or purpling/browning on leaf edges. Pay particular attention if this symptom is seen across multiple trees. Now is an excellent time to do soil and foliar nutrient testing.

  • Hazelnut leaves with purpling and browning on margins
  • Hazelnut leaves with light interveinal yellowing
  • Hazelnut kernels with brown spots
  • Hazelnut kernels cut in half, completely dark brown on inside

If you have confirmed nutrient deficiency, apply a small amount of the applicable fertilizer to your crop to assist in nut set, catkin and new bud development, and overwinter readiness. It is not recommended that you apply fertilizer at the same rates that you would have in springtime, as the ability of nut trees to take up nutrients is relatively reduced in late summer and fall.

Here is a list of OMAFRA-accredited soil testing laboratories. Make sure you know what their requirements are before conducting any sampling.

Preparing for Harvest

Hazelnuts are quickly reaching maturity and harvest for the earliest varieties will begin in a few weeks. Before harvest begins, there are a few things you will want to do to prepare your orchard:

  • ensure orchard floor is as flat as possible to facilitate pickup with mechanical or vacuum harvesters
  • flail mow to cut your grass short and break up organic debris
  • roll orchard floor if needed
  • control pest populations
  • ensure drying and storage facilities are clean and functional

For more information on how to prepare for harvest, see Section 8 (pg 109) of Publication 863, the Guide to Hazelnut Production in Ontario.

If you are planning to sell your hazelnuts to a food processor, get ready to harvest in a way that will keep your hazelnuts segregated by cultivar. Processors rely on quality and consistency to efficiently process their nuts. For example, the simple processes of cracking and roasting will result in a great deal of waste if the nuts are not the same size going into the machine.

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