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All About Hazelnuts


The winner of our Penny Vote for the top homestead crop was the hazelnut!  Hazelnuts bring in about 5 million calories per acre.  They are beneficial for wildlife providing them with habitat and a good food source.  The hazelnut is a fast-producing tree. You will see your hazelnut tree bear fruit (the nuts) within the first 4 years.  Not only are hazelnuts delicious, but they also make an attractive hedge row.  They grow as high as 18 feet and 12 feet wide.   If you don't have a lot of space, you only need 2 hazelnut trees to pollinate each other.  They can flourish in zones 4-9 making them a hardy crop.  Another crop with multiple purposes, hazelnuts are used medicinally for the cardiovascular system, cancer prevention, the digestive tract, and more.



hazel nut crop homestead


Harvesting

1) Hazelnuts can ripen faster than most other nuts, usually ready by mid/late summer to early fall
2) American hazelnuts can be picked when the involucre (outer casing) is starting to turn brown up until it has completely turned brown and peeled back, but by this point wildlife or pests will likely have gotten to them. The nuts can also be eaten raw when still green, apparently.
3) Twist or snip them off
4) If they have holes in them, they're already been munched by worms and us humans should not eat them, but your critters can eat them
5) Test the rest by placing them in water - if they float, they're duds
6) Place them on a rack in a dry area to dry for a couple of weeks (or 2 to 4 days in a dehydrator)



hazel nut in the hand




Related Threads

https://permies.com/t/16481/hazelnut-thread

https://permies.com/t/121713/American-Hazelnut-ready-harvest

https://permies.com/t/102563/thinking-planting-hazelnut-orchard

https://permies.com/t/121391/Pollarding-mulberry-coppicing-hazelnut-effect



Related Websites

https://ouroneacrefarm.com/2013/09/03/hazelnuts/
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pollinator
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Does anyone have a reliable source of nuts for starting trees? Mine from Sheffields all floated when I was doing the 24 hour presoak prior to planting. The butternut and Japanese walnut all floated too. Very disappointed in Sheffields right now.
 
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I recently ordered butternut and heartnut from F.W. Schumacher. Seed arrived very promptly and seems of high quality. Excellent prices too. To be fair, I haven't gone though a growing season with these seeds yet so who knows what kind of germination I'll get but so far I'm very impressed. When I last checked they still had some hazel in stock.
 
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I was lazy and did not 'vote' my sense, however, I'm glad so many did that it put this at the top of the list!
I have at least three trees growing in my far out back yard and they seem to take a very long time to grow. I got them as very small plants at least 4 years ago and they are still not over 4 ft tall - and so far have produced no nuts.

Any way, here is a very good site to learn 'HOW TO' grow Hazelnuts - and to learn from others by reading down through the comments which cover a very broad range of Hazelnut growing problems.
    https://www.growveg.com/guides/a-guide-to-growing-your-own-hazelnuts/

Maybe Paul will get some good info from this site also.

Hmmm! I just ran into a Hazel Nut THREAD here in permies here:    https://permies.com/t/16481/hazelnut-thread
 
Robin Katz
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Thanks Keith. I'll check them out. I always like an excuse to shop for seeds.
 
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I have about 400 American hazelnut bushes that I purchased from Wisconsin DNR 8 years ago and they have been producing for 4 years. Each year I pick more clusters and these are drying now before I dehusk and sell to the American Hazelnut Company in La Crosse, WI.
hazelnut-harvest.jpg
hazelnut harvest
hazelnut harvest
 
pollinator
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Nice!  I bought a dozen hazelnut seedlings and have basically ignored them the past five years, they're now about five feet tall and began producing nuts this autumn.  

They're nice enough to be incorporated into urban landscapes- manageable shrubs, pretty bangles of catkins in early spring, subtle red female flowers, orang-ey fall color.  
 
pollinator
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I've got native beaked hazelnut growing all over and almost never manage to beat the wildlife to harvest them. They grow fast and produce prodigiously, but the nuts are gone in what seems to be a single day some years. They truly are gorgeous shrubs, and if you can get a good crop from them, probably one of the easiest nuts around

The american hazelnuts I've planted have been slow. Purchased 25 (one to two foot bareroot) from coldstream farms back in 2014 - of those, around 15 made it and, as of three years ago, they were around 4 feet tall maximum and not yet producing. I purchased another 200 (six to twelve inch bareroot) from coldstream again in 2015 and put them in as a hedgeline along the western property boundary. These ones were still only about 2 feet tall maximum as of 3 years ago when I last walked the line. They *are* all in established forest conditions (part to full shade, thick leaf mould / humus layer), so that might be stunting their growth a bit...perhaps a nice "releasing" is overdue?

I remember reading somewhere years ago that hazelnuts do produce some juglone (like black walnut, but much less), though I'm not seeing any references to this now with a search engine. Am I imagining it? They are definitely juglone tolerant, though, which is a MAJOR plus if you're also growing walnuts, hickory, etc (they definitely do produce it and will kill lots of things if you're not careful).

Some of the biggest winning characteristics of hazelnuts are their ability to easily layer for propagation, to be "layed" as hedgerow, to regrow from coppice quickly, and to produce strong but flexible wood for tool handles. I honestly think the hazelnut is the ultimate permaculture understory shrub for woodsy, temperate locations, able to withstand stupid levels of neglect while producing incredible, multifaceted value.

Oh, and though I don't have a BTU rating for the american hazelnut handy, it *is* a dense hardwood that's perfectly sized to rocket mass heaters.  

.... can't beat that with a stick!
 
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I planted about 95 hazelnut bushes. 6,5 and 4 years ago.

Last two years production was each about 8 gallons (a bucket and a half).
Squirrel pressure was greater this year.

I did try to grow some. Got 2 to sprout and grow.
I cracked the shell, soaked the nut and planted it.
Seed sat in a cold room for the winter first but I don't know if they need stratified.
 
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Are hazelnuts okay with some shade? I have several that are due to be planted in my native food forest garden but the way I have it planned out so far, most, if not all, of the hazelnuts will be fairly shaded (at least they will when the bigger things get to mature size). My understanding is that hazelnuts are understory plants and so I assumed shade was okay... but looking at some of these comments, it seems they may be much slower to grow and produce in the shade. Should I reevaluate my food forest layout? For reference, I'm in the northern hemisphere and there is existing woods/thicket to the south of my planting area so planting on the south side of the plot doesn't necessarily mean more sun. Think the hazelnuts will be okay with the kind of shade they'll get here? I did try to keep everything out from under the canopies of their neighbors considering average mature sizes.
Food-Forest-Garden.jpg
[Thumbnail for Food-Forest-Garden.jpg]
 
Tom Worley
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Melissa- mine are part of foundation plantings on the north and east side of my house in partial shade.  They're American Hazelnut, and they started producing at 4-5 years.  I haven't tried cultivating European varieties; they may need more sun.  
 
Melissa Taibi
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Tom Worley wrote:Melissa- mine are part of foundation plantings on the north and east side of my house in partial shade.  They're American Hazelnut, and they started producing at 4-5 years.  I haven't tried cultivating European varieties; they may need more sun.  



Thanks for the reply, mine are American hazelnuts as well. I'm in PA, US and I'm trying to focus on all natives in the food forest area. I got a bundle of bare root saplings from the local conservation district sale last year and successfully overwintered them in my nursery area in very sub-par tree tubes and nursery pots since I hadn't yet planned or prepped the food forest on the new property yet. Surprisingly, one of them flowered this past spring but I uprooted the nursery area in the beginning of summer to move everything to the new property, so they all suffered a bit of stress.  I have quite a bit of work to do in order to get them in the ground, but I'm hoping to solidify my plan and get them in the ground before it freezes and I have to wait until Spring.
 
Tristan Vitali
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Melissa Taibi wrote:Are hazelnuts okay with some shade? I have several that are due to be planted in my native food forest garden but the way I have it planned out so far, most, if not all, of the hazelnuts will be fairly shaded (at least they will when the bigger things get to mature size). My understanding is that hazelnuts are understory plants and so I assumed shade was okay... but looking at some of these comments, it seems they may be much slower to grow and produce in the shade. Should I reevaluate my food forest layout? For reference, I'm in the northern hemisphere and there is existing woods/thicket to the south of my planting area so planting on the south side of the plot doesn't necessarily mean more sun. Think the hazelnuts will be okay with the kind of shade they'll get here? I did try to keep everything out from under the canopies of their neighbors considering average mature sizes.



Big thing to keep in mind is "partial shade". Full shade will slow down anything except in the tropics. Watching the beaked hazelnut behaviors here on my property, the ones in the deeper shade produce less or no nuts while the ones that get full sun are LOADED with nuts. More sun definitely makes a big impact, but less sun is not a death knell :)

In fact, depending on your latitude, more shade can be a benefit. My experience is up around 45*N latitude, so sun is a boon for most of the growing season with temperatures rarely getting too high for good photosynthesis. Further to the south, additional shade would help prevent high temperatures leading to better production.

Comes back to the idea of food forests needing wider canopy spacing as you increase the latitude - canopies touching in the Mexico is good, but not a great idea in Canada.

My american hazelnuts were planted into a re-establishing forest area with some mature trees (american beech, eastern hemlock, white pine, sugar maple, etc) and lots of brushy regrowth (birches, poplars, maples, etc)... the speed at which the pioneer species grow can often overwhelm other things without proper management as the area enters what's known as "stem exclusion" - this is where increasing competition for sunlight causes a natural selection process and more than half of the trees lose the game.

Even with my lazy management, hazelnuts, hemlocks and maples are renown for their ability to "struggle along in the basement" for years with full shade, waiting for an opening in the canopy that gives them access to more sunlight which we mimic by simply clearing some brush now and then (aka "releasing"). So, in practice, a "partial shade" for hazelnuts can be considered as averaged out "partial" over its life. Stands can be rescued from non-production with a little brush clearing, pruning and tree thinning every 5 years or so, as needed, if and when you think shade might have become a problem.
 
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Melissa Taibi wrote:Are hazelnuts okay with some shade? I have several that are due to be planted in my native food forest garden but the way I have it planned out so far, most, if not all, of the hazelnuts will be fairly shaded (at least they will when the bigger things get to mature size). My understanding is that hazelnuts are understory plants and so I assumed shade was okay... but looking at some of these comments, it seems they may be much slower to grow and produce in the shade. Should I reevaluate my food forest layout? For reference, I'm in the northern hemisphere and there is existing woods/thicket to the south of my planting area so planting on the south side of the plot doesn't necessarily mean more sun. Think the hazelnuts will be okay with the kind of shade they'll get here? I did try to keep everything out from under the canopies of their neighbors considering average mature sizes.



You will want full sun ideally, can get away with 3/4 day sun.
You are in the location that should work for the Rutgers hazels Somersett, Hunterdon and Raritan. You have lots of fungus there and these are resistant to the strong disease pressure you have there. The OSO fungus resistant varieties are not resistant on the east coast. The Rutgers are large nuts. You can plant Corylus americana but their nuts are very tiny.
 
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