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Hazelnuts: harvest, processing, propagation...?

 
pollinator
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The bucket of sawdust was written about in Paradise Lot (Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates) and they did it by accident, but later learned that indigenous people here had done that with a rotted out tree. They'd just left a bucket of sawdust out for some reason and later found it full of nuts.

If it doesn't work it may be that there are other variables. Observe, observe, observe.
 
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I have 15 hazelnut trees (Corylus Avellana), top quality landraces, 20+ years old, 5+metres, each 3-7 clumping stems, NEVER fertilized, NEVER irrigated, NEVER treated for pests (no squirrel issues), NEVER weeded between trees (least of all with roundup). What I do know about hazelnuts first-hand:

Propagation and pollination: Usually hazelnuts are propagated transplanting suckers taken from known trees in order to select a specific variety. Suckers taken from the same mother tree are identical clones and hazelnuts are monoecious (each tree produces both male and female flowers) but not self pollinating. Therefore clones must be pollinated by genetically different trees. I have 13 clones of the same landrace and 2 different hazelnuts of slightly inferior quality for pollination.

Pruning: I have clumping trees with 3 to 7 trunks each, more than 5 meters tall. Every year I coppice 1 or 2 trunks from each tree and I let 1 or 2 new suckers grow to rejuvenate the tree. I also cut down all not wanted sucker to direct the tree's effort toward sexual propagation (nuts production) and not toward vegetative propagation.

Harvest: When hazelnuts are ready and begin to fall I shake gently the trees and I harvest them before the voles. Hazelnut trees alternate a year of heavy production with a year of very low production. In my case the harvest is from 2 to 5 kg each plant depending on the year. 1 kg of whole hazelnuts gives you 350 grams of shelled hazelnuts.

Processing: The best way to process hazelnuts is: shell them, roast them at high temperature in the oven for 10-15 minutes (or until slightly brown), put them PROMPTLY when hot in glass jars and close the lid immediately. Hot hazelnuts will vacuum-seal themselves in the jar. In this way it is possible to store hazelnuts for YEARS.

Other uses: my hugelkultur beds are filled with coppiced hazelnut trunks and mulched with shells and discarded hazelnuts. Suckers can be used as poles or biomass.

Offer: at the moment I have sold or processed all the hazelnuts of this year (low) harvest. If there are permies interested in viable hazelnut seeds I am willing to send them some from next year harvest (September-October 2015). Feel free to contact me.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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I'm thinking 20 lbs is low for production per "tree." I have no basis for saying this other than I think there must be a way and because it's the maximum the Arbor Day Foundation said I Could expect. So, I wonder if any of you have gotten more than that per tree? what would Sepp Holzer get? what would Mark Shepard get? what would HUSP supergenius get?

Also, any particular companion plants for hazelnut trees?
 
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Joshua - Hazels are really more a shrub than a tree in my experience - think medium apple tree proportions - but far less prolific than apples on a weight basis. Clearly trees like walnuts will get you far larger yeilds per tree, but their final size is huge in comparison.
 
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Hi Joshua,

As Michael pointed out, Hazelnuts are technically a shrub, not a tree, and as such can be planted a bit deeper. As you may notice from the directions, they recommend only putting a half inch of soil over the plug to inhibit moisture from wicking away from the plug and drying it out.

I also take issue of them sending out the tiny trees so late, even though fall is a favorite time to plant trees. Some trees can only be transplanted when they are dormant, therefore, autumn. If your ground is frozen, though, you will do seedlings no favor by putting them in a deep freeze without their roots having any chance to get established. My suggestion would be to pot them up, keep them watered and in cool place until you can get into the ground in spring.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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THanks. Well, our deep freeze has been procrastinating this year, so I think I'll pot up the extras that we have (someone else's order didn't get planted) and let these ones I already planted tough it out outside, maybe they get their roots in in time.

But the thing about going above the root flare is still weird. My solution was to rub some of the soil off the top of the plug so it comes to the same height. So far they seem to be doing OK, enjoying balmy December weather, they are still standing straight and smiling at me when I pass.

My permie buddy texted me a bunch of info about how Sepp Holzer does hazelnuts , not sure I followed all of it but I can post it here if anyone wants. SOmething about complex trimming so some branches are 2 years old, some 3, some 4, and then also killing the dud trees out of thousands planted to get the hardiest and best-producing ones, and grafting the better ones onto the less-stellar ones.

Thanks again!
 
pollinator
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gina kansas wrote: Paul - Badgersett Farms - badgersett.com They have seed for planting as well as plants



I thought they stopped selling seed. They warned people about fury animals stealing the planted nuts but got too many calls like "Hi, I need more hazelnuts to plant. I planted them all yesterday and now they are all gone."
 
steward
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Joshua, I would love to hear how Sepp does it !
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Utah writes: Hazelnuts are 12-15 foot polant normally with 20+ pounds of nut per plant/bush. There are some cultivars that are natural dwarfs that get only to 6' with no pruning. Sepp also plants thousands of plants and then he prunes/kill them . That is very intensive work. Not only does he go back and kill the ones he doesn't want due to spacing, he also grafts/prunes the ones he likes due to spacing and he does leave a few that naturally produce approved fruits. Even then he continually goes back and adjusts things. He also mainly grows grass and plants for his pigs/animals. Personally I don't grow much grass because I am not "growing" pigs/cattle.

As far as hazelnut care goes, you can just let them be. The older canes die after a few yras and hte newer onetake over. You can also make 1/4 of the canes/shorts 4 years old, 1/4 3 years old and 1/4 2 years old, etc....etc.


--------------
But Utah, where's the secret treasure buried? we need names!

I don't know the exact source of his information. I don't recall reading that in Sepp Holzer's Permaculture, though he does discuss fruit trees extensively (when in doubt, go wild), but maybe it is in there or another book or somewhere on the web? i did google a bit but didn't hit gold.


As for squirrels, you dont' have a squirrel problem, you have a lack of squirrels appreciating that if they let the tree grow eventually there will be MANY nuts. What about planting a fully grown tree that drops nuts to shield the babies? what about a mother tree? And then once you have nuts it's a lack of bucket filled with sawdust problem. Not a pig bucket problem, a squirrel bucket problem. Aha!

How do nu trees thrive in the wild? what information does it give us that the trees are getting dug up? WWSD? How do I get to quit my job and be a pig on Sepp Holzer's farm?

Is the problem fury animals or perhaps furry animals? or is it in fact furies?
 
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I think in nature, smaller wildcats catch and eat squirrels, leading to an equilibrium. Most people don't like wildcats salivating while looking at their small children. Pet cats are a good response, although they do kill many wild birds, which is a real problem. Several bird organizations are involved in movements to stop people from letting their cats go outside. What eats squirrels but doesn't eat songbirds? Raccoons? I doubt they could catch a squirrel. Maybe they just scare them away? I don't think I want raccoons in my yard. They strew garbage and eat my fruit.
John S
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Seeds: FW Scumacher and Sheffields Seed Company


Eastern Filbert Blight can be a problem - http://www.songonline.ca/nuts/hazelnuts.htm


For a really cold hardy variety, I'd recommend Skinner. Ours survived steady -20°C to -25°C last winter with no tip dieback.


 
Valerie Dawnstar
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One of the Arbor Day Foundation goals are to find a strain resistant to that Eastern Blight.

My dog loves chasing squirrels like it's his job. Oh, wait... It is. He has even tripped over them as they zigzag and looked at the crazy animal in wonderment until it gets going again. This particular dog seems to have a low prey drive (at least as far as squirrels go) and strong herding instinct. Those squirrels belong in the trees! And squirrels being squirrels can't resist looking on the ground for fallen nuts so they are less likely to live near a dog. I have watched squirrels tease a cat by climbing halfway up a tree and look back to see if the cat was following. They don't do that with dogs.
 
Cj Sloane
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Phil Rutter has said that dogs will kill squirrels, but they also eat hazel nuts.
 
steward
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that does not surprise me, our dog loves almonds, pecans, walnuts, and acorns.
 
John Suavecito
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We have a small dog who loves to chase squirrels. The problem is that the squirrel can just run up a tree. They are very good at that.
My dog can't do that.
That's why I think cats are more effective.
John S
PDX OR
 
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Growing up we had a cat that could climb faster than squirrels. She would routinely leave trophies.
 
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Cj Verde wrote:

gina kansas wrote: Paul - Badgersett Farms - badgersett.com They have seed for planting as well as plants



I thought they stopped selling seed. They warned people about fury animals stealing the planted nuts but got too many calls like "Hi, I need more hazelnuts to plant. I planted them all yesterday and now they are all gone."



They started up again this year...I just got mine in the mail the other day. No worries about squirrels; by the time the seed arrived the ground was solid ice, so they're stratifying inside. They still issue the dire warning and recommend against it, but you can buy the seed if you want. I do because they can't select for the kind of winters we get up here. Any trees hardy enough for us may not meet their other criteria, which would make buying the trees useless (although I still bought some in case they will survive).
 
Cj Sloane
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Victor, are you going to plant those seeds in the ground or something like the "cone-tainers" that Badgerset uses.
 
Victor Johanson
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Cj Verde wrote:Victor, are you going to plant those seeds in the ground or something like the "cone-tainers" that Badgerset uses.



If they germinate before spring I'll plant them in tubes, otherwise they'll go in the ground.
 
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This year's promotion from the Arbor Day Foundation is 3 Hazelnut trees for a minimum donation of $20. They retail for about $5 and change for bare root stock, so a good deal for a good cause. I got 10 trees last year, American Hawthorn, Redbud, some Dogwoods and something else (?), all for a $10 membership. All doing well at various locations around the ranch. Good cause, Arbor Day Foundation
 
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I have 25 hazelnut seeds planted in plastic cups and put in a clear plastic tote outside. So far it seems to be doing ok. I scratched them up a bit before planting and since it'sc old I figure that's the cold stratification part. So do you think they'll be ok to plant outside when they sprout or should I save them up until they are larger??
 
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I live in the UK but have a tree farm in Idaho. I didn't realise that Hazel isn't the common woodland plant over in the US as it is here. Hazel here grows just everywhere. It's widely used as stakes for growing other plants (e.g. Bean poles), as a basket material, it is one of the primary types of lathe (split as in lathe and plaster) or as wattle (unsplit withes woven between upright stakes) in wattle and daub walls, as hurdles for all sorts of outdoor fencing and horse jumps, for fodder, for nuts, as stick fuel and as mulch. The beauty of Hazel is that it coppices so well and throws up very straight and sturdy sticks when coppiced. Grows fast too.

I had just assumed that as I migrate my tree farm away from mainly pine forest to mixed food forest and farm forestry, that hazel would be part of the mix - but it sounds from this thread as though I will have to work at getting it established as part of my project.
 
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The thing that takes all the profit out of hazel nuts is shelling them. If I were to grow them, I'd hope to produce 50-100 pounds of them, shelled. But shelling that many with a hand cracker or small hammer is a non-starter. Anyone know of simple machinery for the task?
 
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Dan Huisjen wrote:The thing that takes all the profit out of hazel nuts is shelling them. If I were to grow them, I'd hope to produce 50-100 pounds of them, shelled. But shelling that many with a hand cracker or small hammer is a non-starter. Anyone know of simple machinery for the task?



Kids.... lol
 
Dan Huisjen
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Nope. All I have is a cat.
 
Miles Flansburg
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I haven't bought or used any of these but there are some cool things at this website.

Nutcrakers etc.
 
Mary Combs
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Dan Huisjen wrote:The thing that takes all the profit out of hazel nuts is shelling them. If I were to grow them, I'd hope to produce 50-100 pounds of them, shelled. But shelling that many with a hand cracker or small hammer is a non-starter. Anyone know of simple machinery for the task?



There are plenty of nutcrackers around, the harder task is getting the inner membrane off. Without doing that, the hazelnuts are bitter.

http://wickedgoodkitchen.com/how-to-easily-peel-blanch-hazelnuts/

Also, in the UK, hazels are sold green as cobnuts in shops for a short window of time as a higher end product...

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2007/sep/08/features.recipes


 
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Mary Combs wrote:

Dan Huisjen wrote:
There are plenty of nutcrackers around, the harder task is getting the inner membrane off. Without doing that, the hazelnuts are bitter.



What? Hazel? I have never heard of that. Almonds get blanched but hazels?

 
Mary Combs
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Mary Combs wrote:

Dan Huisjen wrote:The thing that takes all the profit out of hazel nuts is shelling them. If I were to grow them, I'd hope to produce 50-100 pounds of them, shelled. But shelling that many with a hand cracker or small hammer is a non-starter. Anyone know of simple machinery for the task?



There are plenty of nutcrackers around, the harder task is getting the inner membrane off. Without doing that, the hazelnuts are bitter.

http://wickedgoodkitchen.com/how-to-easily-peel-blanch-hazelnuts/

Also, in the UK, hazels are sold green as cobnuts in shops for a short window of time as a higher end product...

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2007/sep/08/features.recipes




Yes, hazels have an inner brown skin that is bitter.

I've asked a prepper site if anyone knows the techniques used commercially for de-shelling hazels. So far no answer to that question, but this comment came back. Apparently spotted on another permaculture site so thought it was worth repeating.


"I can't find the photo right now, but one year I inadvertently left a half bushel basket at the base of the walnut tree. It had a gallon pot in it. The squirrels filled the whole thing with nuts. I emptied it, and it got filled twice more. They poke nuts into every cavity in every tree. They poke nuts into every hole in the ground... Upright cinder-blocks laying on the ground are a nut magnet. One gallon pots are highly favored.

There's a project for a permaculture inventor.... Study squirrels, and test designs, and share blueprints for boxes that are irresistible to squirrels as a stash place for nuts. I think that the best designs will have an easy empty feature so that they can be easily robbed."
 
raoul dalmasso
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There is another use for hazel: basal shoots (suckers) can be used for basket making. This is the one I have made from hazel suckers cut from my trees last week.

 
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Propagation by suckers is the easiest way....it's worth to remember that Hazelnuts are not always self-fertile...so cross-pollination is required. The wind blows the pollen far.....this plant flowers in winter when rarely bees are active
 
Miles Flansburg
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Springtime !
DSCN2060.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSCN2060.JPG]
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Since I started working at Burnt Ridge Nursery, I have typed a LOT of correspondence from the owner, Michael Dolan, whose life's work is propagating, grafting and selling woody perennial food-producing plants via mail-order to customers all over the US. Since he does not use a computer (?!), it is up to me to type out the longhand answers he offers to folks who write in every day. He gets a lot of questions about hazelnuts, and they are a favorite plant of his (as are chestnut trees). Some nuggets of wisdom from Michael:

Hazelnuts are one of the most widely-adapted nut trees on the continent. Some are even hardy to zone 3.
Bush hazels (Corylus americana) typically only grow to 10' and can easily be kept at 6'. The nuts fall free of the husks; this variety native to Eastern US. Hardy to zone 3. Small nuts.
Beaked hazels (Corylus cornuta) are the West Coast native with smaller bushes than the commercial varieties, and give smaller nuts that are challenging to get out of their husks (which have a pointed, or "beaked" collar at the non-stem end).
European hazels (Corylus avellana) are the most commonly cultivated commercial varieties, and Oregon State Univ has come out with blight-resistant varieties in the last 10 years or so - Jefferson is most commonly substituted for the old favorite variety Barcelona - and pollinators for Jefferson include Yamhill, Theta, Eta, Felix, Dorris, McDonald, York, Wepster. Sacajawea, Halle's Giant and Tonda Di Giffoni are older varieties that are somewhat less blight resistant, but Tonda Di Giffoni is the favored Italian variety due to its ability to blanch perfectly and remove the inner husk.
Turkish Tree Hazels (Corylus colurna) are a tree form that yields smallish nuts in a highly decorative husk grouping - each cluster has multiple husks that have a hard, scrolled pattern to the pointed ends, giving the entire cluster a crazy, fist-sized brown snowflake-like appearance.

Eastern Filbert Blight is a bugger that will greatly reduce yields, but can be controlled by pruning off the affected portions of the branches and burning them. Previous poster referenced this when they talked about "mowing" the bushes.
Most non-commercial growers will simply let the trees sucker to create a bush with multiple branches coming from a central core (or "stool" in coppice terms). Trees/bushes are usually 16' x 16' to 12' x 12' for some of the smaller varieties. Planting on 16' centers is standard commercial orchard spacing, but you can plant closer if you want a dense hedge effect. Harvesting is easy since the branches are very flexible and can be bent down to remove the husk clusters - which can ripen about a month before they actually fall off the trees. Interesting note: coppicing the bushes (see author Ben Law about this British woodland and forester practice) will greatly increase the life of the plant. Most hazelnuts lose vigor after about 100 years, but stools from coppiced plants have been dated at over 450 years old! Also, hazelnuts will grow and produce happily in the shade of other taller trees - you can create a canopy with walnuts or chestnuts and grow hazelnuts as an understory nut crop as well.

The cheapest method of creating a hazelnut orchard is to harvest nuts from improved and named varieties, and plant them. They will not be exact duplicates of their parent, but they will have the improved genetics from both the parents - i.e. nuts from a Jefferson will include the genetics from Jefferson plus the genetics of the variety that pollinated it. If you want exact genetic duplicates (or clones), you can make layers from the named varieties, or graft scionwood from a named variety onto a seedling - but you can't let those grafted plants develop shoots below the graft, or those shoots will be from the seedling, not from the named variety above the graft. Hope this isn't getting too complex The benefit of grafting is that it pushes the plant into becoming productive several years sooner than it would've if it was simply a grown seedling; there's something about the process of grafting itself that promotes earlier bearing - and this is true of all nut and fruit trees.

Fresh hazelnuts have a taste and texture like coconut meat. It's really yummy, but it only keeps that quality if you refrigerate it. Seed hazelnut must be refrigerated to stay viable, and the refrigeration acts as a cold-stratification process as well. Burnt Ridge sells seed hazelnuts for $5.00/lb in 2017, and a pound contains approx 120 nuts.
Hazelnuts become cured after their drying process, detailed by several posters above. They are some of the easiest nuts to crack, and I agree the oil is superb!

 
Miles Flansburg
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Thanks for bringing this thread back to life Laura ! I am gonna have to take a look at Burnt Ridges Hazelnuts !!  

HERE
 
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I live at 8300 feet in the southern Colorado foothills. Many trees (maples, oaks, and most fruit trees) won't grow at this elevation. I would love to have hazelnuts if they would survive but would hate sentence new starts to death if they can't grow here. If anyone has any experience or thoughts on this I would love to hear from you.  
Thanks Fred
 
Laura Sweany
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I live at 8300 feet in the southern Colorado foothills. Many trees (maples, oaks, and most fruit trees) won't grow at this elevation. I would love to have hazelnuts if they would survive but would hate sentence new starts to death if they can't grow here. If anyone has any experience or thoughts on this I would love to hear from you.  



I posed your question to Michael, and here is his answer: you could try 2 or more bush hazels, or 2 or more beaked hazels, since they are native plants they are very sturdy and cold-tolerant, and quite late to bloom (to avoid late frost blossom damage) while early to harvest (some as early as July). Among named and improved varieties your best bets are Jefferson, Eta, Theta combos, since they bloom later and ripen earlier - They are all on their own roots so even if they suffer a catastrophic freeze they will come back true from the roots. The improved varieties are blight resistant as well.

To help them get settled, really baby them the first 2 years they're in the ground - heavy mulch around the roots, make sure the plant and roots are wet if there will be a heavy freeze, even pack straw or boughs around the trunk and branches and wrap the whole thing in a sheet or lightweight blanket - the goal is to provide either an air pocket to act as an insulating layer against cold and wind, or create a frozen layer that will protect the plant from further deep freezing or drying winds. Freezing winds will suck moisture and life out of a woody plant faster than anything. Young plants are about 10 degrees less hardy their first 2 years than they will be as adults.

You stand a good chance of success if you follow these guidelines. BTW, have you tried the hardy Canadian varieties of apples like Northland, Goodland, Harland, etc? They should be hardy to zone 2!
 
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Laura Sweany wrote:Interesting note: coppicing the bushes (see author Ben Law about this British woodland and forester practice) will greatly increase the life of the plant. Most hazelnuts lose vigor after about 100 years, but stools from coppiced plants have been dated at over 450 years old!



Hi Laura,

Thank you for sharing this information (and the much more that I snipped) !

I would like to coppice my hazelnuts, but I have rabbits on the property.  So, so many rabbits.  Every shrub I plant lives in a wire cage for several years, but someday I'd like to be able to remove the cages from my hazelnuts.  Would pollarding at about hip-height work to rejuvenate the shrubs, or is the suckering key there?

Thanks!
 
Laura Sweany
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Would pollarding at about hip-height work to rejuvenate the shrubs, or is the suckering key there?



I asked Michael about this too, and he says the way commercial growers in Oregon do it, they grow the entire bush on top of a 4-5' trunk (essentially pollarding it at that level), so they can run sprayers and harvesters underneath the branches. He suggests you could simply cage around the main trunk, and let rabbits have the suckers - then harvest the branches when they are the girth you desire, and let them grow out again. Growers will do this when they find blight on a branch or two in an otherwise healthy tree. Their trees are at least 100 years old in some cases, and still producing vigorously.

I understand Dave Jacke is working on a book about woodland management - coppicing and pollarding are large topics he will be covering thoroughly. I can hardly wait!
 
Fred King
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Laura thank you for the advice.  When I lived in northern Wisconsin hazelnuts grew wild. Small but so tastie. I harvested but didn't have to plant so I know nothing about it. When is the best time. We are still getting snow and freezing nights here.  Thanks agan. Fred
 
Morfydd St. Clair
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Laura Sweany wrote:

Would pollarding at about hip-height work to rejuvenate the shrubs, or is the suckering key there?



I asked Michael about this too, and he says the way commercial growers in Oregon do it, they grow the entire bush on top of a 4-5' trunk (essentially pollarding it at that level), so they can run sprayers and harvesters underneath the branches. He suggests you could simply cage around the main trunk, and let rabbits have the suckers - then harvest the branches when they are the girth you desire, and let them grow out again. Growers will do this when they find blight on a branch or two in an otherwise healthy tree. Their trees are at least 100 years old in some cases, and still producing vigorously.

I understand Dave Jacke is working on a book about woodland management - coppicing and pollarding are large topics he will be covering thoroughly. I can hardly wait!



Thank you, Laura.  That's very clear, and promising!  

The Jacke book sounds great - I'll keep an eye out.
 
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