Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Consortium Presents at Ontario
Hazelnut Conference

I represented the Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium at the Annual Hazelnut Symposium in Brantford, Ontario, in late March and gave two presentations—Hazelnut R&D in the U.S. and Nontraditional Uses of Hazelnuts. I also toured the hazelnut research facilities and fields at the University of Guelph.  

There's a growing demand for hazelnuts in the area because Ferrero Rocher has a large (and expanding) plant in Brantford that produces hazelnut confections and Nutella.

Parts of southern Ontario (adjacent to Lake Erie) have a relatively mild climate that may favor large-scale hazelnut production using cultivars released by Oregon State University. It’s clear that given the rapidly growing markets for hazelnuts in North America and worldwide, there’s an acute need to expand the production zone beyond this narrow belt along the lake, and to create new hybrids that would be better adapted to the climate there and elsewhere.

The Consortium’s climatic adaption work through extensive breeding and testing efforts will provide cultivars to support commercial hazelnut production across eastern North America.

Other presenters at the conference included British Columbia hazelnut growers, the University of Guelph, Erie Innovation and Commercialization, the Ontario government and Ferrero Rocher Canada. —Dr. Scott Josiah, Director, Nebraska Forest Service, University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dr. Shawn Mehlenbacher (left) walked members of the Hybrid
Hazelnut Consortium through OSU hazelnut fields.
Meet the Partners: Oregon State is a Leader in Hazelnut Research

When members of the Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium met in Corvallis, Ore., for the annual meeting, we were able to see first-hand the work being done by Oregon State University researchers and Oregon hazelnut growers.

Oregon State began hazelnut research in 1969, shortly after eastern filbert blight (EFB), a disease that kills European hazelnut plants, was discovered in Oregon. Dr. Shawn Mehlenbacher, professor of horticulture, works on developing EFB-resistant hazelnuts, microsatellite marker development and DNA markers for EFB resistance. His work also includes importing and evaluating hazelnut germplasm from around the world to increase the world's largest hazelnut germplasm collection.  

Oregon State plants about 4,000 seedlings annually on 65 acres at OSU's Smith Field Farm. After years of intense screening, the 4,000 plants are whittled down to 25-30 possibilities for the breeding program. The best trees are layered, banded and sent to the nursery for a year, then placed in a field trial. Nut data is taken in years 3-7.

For more information about Oregon State's hazelnut program, visit

Tours of Oregon hazelnut industry sites included visits to
hazelnut propagators, processors, and retailers (below).

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

          Spring Planting Season Has Begun

The greenhouse is coming alive on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln East Campus!

Hybrid seedlings grown from Oregon State and Rutgers seeds are being moved from the germination trays to one-gallon nursery cans this week. These seedlings were planted the week of March 5 and will be field tested at Horning Farm starting this fall and in spring 2013.

Older seedlings will be field planted at Horning this spring. More than 3,000 seedlings will be planted at Horning Farm for the next round of trials.  
-- Troy Pabst, forestry properties manager, Nebraska Forest Service

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Did You Know . . . ? 

→  Hazelnuts, or filberts, are the fifth most popular tree nut crop in the world behind cashews, almonds, walnuts and chestnuts. 

→  Commercial production is restricted to areas with climates moderated by large bodies of water. The Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium is working to produce cold-hardy, heat-tolerant hybrids, which will expand the growing area.

→  The U.S. produces about 4% of the world crop behind Turkey (70%) and Italy (18%). 

→  99% of the U.S. crop is grown in Oregon's Willamette Valley. 

→  Hazelnuts naturally grow as a large bush, but are pruned to a single trunk in the U.S. to facilitate mechanical harvesting.

→  Hazelnuts are sold in the shell (5-10% of the world crop) or as kernels, and are used in candies and other products, like Nutella, a blend of chocolate and hazelnut.

→  Nutella was created in the 1940s by Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker in Italy, where cocoa was in short supply due to World War II rationing. Ferrero Inc. also produces Ferrero Roche and other confections. 

→  Ferrero also makes Tic Tacs. 

→  A 2007 study showed that hazelnut shells and leaves contain taxanes, which are used to produce Taxol, a cancer-fighting drug.

→  The Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium is looking at other uses for hazelnut byproducts as well, including using shells for high-protein animal feed and oil for biofuel. Our analysis shows that hazelnuts can produce twice the amount of oil per acre as soybeans.