I'm currently reading Mark Shepard's Restoration Agriculture and I want to incorporate alley cropping in my system with fruit and nut trees as perennial woody crops. I'd like to incorporate Hazels and Chestnuts if they are adaptable to my zone 8 heat. I know Mark developed cold hardy versions for his climate so I would think it's possible to do the same for heat and drought tolerance. Is/has anyone doing/done this?
Phil Rutter (Mark took his Woody Agriculture Class) talks about this in an interview with Diego who lives in CA. Part 1 is here but that discussion is in part 2. He's optimistic that the genetics are out there for Chestnuts.
I don't think Hazelnuts can handle a hot environment. Phil is coming out with a book on Hazelnuts this fall, and was interviewed here.
Depending on your goals, you might focus on what does grow in a hot environment - pecans?
My project thread Agriculture collects solar energy two-dimensionally; but silviculture collects it three dimensionally.
Thanks, CJ and David. I've listened to all of Phil's podcasts and that's probably what has me thinking I can do this. Perhaps I should listen to part two again. I'm up for a challenge and to my tree nerd way of thinking growing several thousand tree seedlings to get a few that work would be a fun project. I just wanted to see if someone else has already done it. I have looked at a lot of nut trees including pistachio, cashew and macadamia but most are not suited for the hot, dry summers we get here. The Pecan is our state tree and is rather ubiquitous in this area. I'll probably have some in my system but I was hoping to incorporate something a little more fun and interesting.
The hazelnut is listed as being compatible to zone 8. Mark mentioned They grow wild in East Texas and I heard him say he got some of his genetics from Louisiana. I'm in 8b and I'm assuming the biggest challenge will be water. Things grow well here until we get 90 straight days of 100 degree heat.
Chestnuts grow well in Portugal, which is zone 9 with brutal summer heat. I've seen hazelnut trees for sale too, though I've had no success growing them. We do have a fair bit of below-freezing weather over the winter though.
hazels grow wild here all over here in northern california, which is mostly zone 8. it is though a different species that grows wild, either the common wild hazel or the california wild hazel. we regularly have hot summers, dry too, and over 100 degrees, though not that much above. usually when you see hazels in the wild they are near a river or some underground water.
That was the plan for sure. We get enough rain to fill ponds in the fall and winter and I can flood the Swales in the summer drought but I never thought about chill hours. We only get 450-650 around here. Guess I'll be looking for that needle in a haystack.
I think you would have good luck with the hybrid Dunstan chestnuts. Their main nursery is in FL not far from Gainesville, which would be a zone 8 or even 9. I think these chestnuts might want a more acid soil....if yours is alkaline you might check out some of the more European based hybrids available in the West, but these are usually blight susceptible.
It' in the 90's for a good amount of the summer with regular reaches into the triple digits and chestnuts do great here. It does get cold here in the winter, down to the single digits, and that's also when we get most of our precipitation. Most of the trees that I've noticed doing really well are getting irrigated - usually by lawn sprinklers, but I'm trying out planting some along a hugelbed to hopefully reduce irrigation needs so talk to me in 10 years or so and I should be able to tell you how well that works!
I always laugh when the local store gets chestnuts in because they're these unappealing dull little things usually less than 1" at their largest where as the ones that grow here are nice shiny hulled behemoths that can be more than 3" across quite often. The chestnuts do so well that 2 mature trees provides more than two families want to eat with an extra 10 pounds a day going to our four pigs. We really don't eat that many of them but they are a delicious snack on a cold night and if you invest the time to prepare/store them properly they could be a very viable source of calories during a lean winter - you can make a flour that you can add to breads and stews that adds a mild nutty-sweet flavor and it's supposed to make the best pastries but I haven't been fortunate enough to try that yet.
"Instead of Pay It Forward I prefer Plant It Forward" ~Howard Story / "God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools." ~John Muir