Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hazelnuts Are Good for You!
My iced hazelnut latte this morning sent me on a quest for other ways to use hazelnuts. The Nebraska Nut Growers offer these ideas for incorporating heart-healthy hazels and other nuts into your diet. Easy! 
  • Add to tossed salads
  • Stir-fry with vegetables or chicken
  • Blend into fruit shakes 
  • Use in stuffings 
  • Mix into pancake or waffle batter 
  • Add to rice dishes 
  • Add to cake or cookie batter
  • Encrust fish with chopped nuts and bake
  • Dip in melted chocolate

Hazelnut Oil
Pressed from hazelnuts, hazelnut oil is similar in composition to extra virgin olive oil and is high in Omega 9 and Omega 6 fatty acids, making it a healthy cooking option. It's very flavorful so start with a small amount and add according to your taste. Some good ways to use it? In salad dressing (try it with whole grain mustard, minced shallot, sherry and cider vinegar and salt and pepper) or drizzled over ravioli or avocados. Hazelnut oil also goes well with pumpkin – brush it over cut pumpkin before roasting or drizzle on pumpkin soup. – Nancy Evans, Nebraska Forest Service

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rutgers Scientists Sequence
the EFB Genome

EFB presents as cankers on hazelnut branches.
Severe cankering is followed by branch dieback
and death of most European (Corylus avellana)
hazelnut plants.
One of the major accomplishments of the Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium’s work to date is sequencing the genome of Anisogramma anomala, the filamentous fungus that causes eastern filbert blight (EFB). EFB is one of the key factors limiting commercial hazelnut production.

Understanding the genetic sequence of A. anomala will allow us to determine which plants contain useful genetic resistance, whether various fungal strains affect plants differently and whether environment plays a part in resistance and/or disease progression. This will help us determine which parent plants to breed, how likely EFB is to change over time and how that would affect host resistance.

Dr. Brad Hillman and Dr. Guohong Cai from Rutgers successfully sequenced the genome after isolating the fungus DNA from a two-month-old sample, and analyzed it using an Illumina sequencer. A. anomala is particularly difficult to work with because it doesn’t grow well outside of infected plants.

The massive amount of sequence data was assembled using a short-read method called SOAPdenovo, and the assembled sequence was analyzed to develop simple sequence repeat (SSR, also called microsatellite) gene markers for the fungus. The A. anomala genome was found to be surprisingly large, and 85% of it was “repetitive” DNA typical of transposable genetic elements.

Next steps in the research are to sequence the genome in greater depth to obtain a better genome assembly as a platform for future work. We also will complete “draft” sequences of additional strains of A. anomala from different populations around the U.S. and will combine this information with experimental screening of microsatellite loci.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

OSU Research Team Travels to Chile

Sandoval family farm in Chillan
I traveled to the International Hazelnut Congress in Temuco, Chile, in March, accompanied by key members of the Oregon State University hazelnut breeding program and 17 Oregon hazelnut growers.

The OSU breeding and genetics project members gave five presentations (Mehlenbacher, Smith and McCluskey) and two posters (Mehlenbacher, McCluskey and Rowley). OSU Yamhill County Extension’s Jeff Olsen also presented at the meetings. These meetings gave Oregon growers a chance to meet researchers working on hazelnuts from other countries, and to see OSU researchers interacting with their peers. People from three other countries joined the group part-time.   

Above & below: El Avellano nursery
In addition to the meetings, which were engaging for researchers and growers alike, we traveled north to south through much of Chile, stopping along the way for farmer-to-farmer exchanges with hazelnut growers and experiencing true cultural exchange and interaction. We saw cultivars, pollinizers, nurseries, propagation and harvest equipment, and met key players in the Chilean hazelnut industry. In Chill├ín, about 350 miles south of the capital Santiago, we observed researchers working to solve problems caused by the root-feeding larvae of beetles commonly called "burritos." All of these visits were well-structured with key people on hand to interpret the experience.  

We also visited the only Chilean nursery licensed to propagate OSU hazelnut releases, in Hijuelas, about an hour north of Santiago. We toured the Viveros Hijuelas operation, including the micropropagation facility and lath houses. They produce and sell four OSU cultivars and two pollinizers. 

SMR lab
The two weeks on the ground in Chile were long ones, but they were not all work. Growers had ample time to develop an appreciation for the culture and the people of Chile. The trip combined many asados (barbequed or roasted beef), lots of good wine and:   
· Hiking up Cerro San Cristobal—a hill providing impressive views of Santiago;
· Walking along the beach in Vina del Mar, and riding an ascensor up a hill in Valpariso;
· Seeing monkey puzzle trees in their native Andean habitat;
· Visiting Valdivia, a university town similar to Corvallis, and many other stops along the way;
· Seeing the Lake District near the border with Argentina;
· Climbing to the snowline of Mt. Osorno, a volcano in the Andes.

Everywhere, we enjoyed home-cooked meals and lots of one-on-one interactions. A 7.2 tremor shook the airport terminal while we were waiting to board the return flight. Chileans took it in stride, and the plane departed on time. 

Joanne and Wayne Chambers of Albany, Ore., joined our group. Wayne is a “retired” hazelnut grower who has been involved with the breeding program for decades. Since their retirement, the Chambers have enjoyed international travel. Joanne rated this “best trip they’d ever been on,” in large part due to the quality of the interpersonal experiences. Richard and Leonie Smith, who “trained in Shawn’s boot camp” of long days, left the group early for some personal travel in Chile and later reported that they really missed the camaraderie of the group while they were on their own.— Dr. Shawn Mehlenbacher, Oregon State University

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hazelnuts Planted in Nebraska

Hazelnut planting has begun at the Nebraska Forest Service’s Horning Farm. Yesterday NFS staff and others planted about 550 hybrid seedlings grown from Oregon State seeds and 100 Americana plants grown from Rutgers seeds. Another 100+ Americana plants will go in the ground there today plus about 25 ‘Jefferson’ and ‘Yamhill’ cultivars from the International Agricultural Products Center at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. These hazelnut plants are being tested for heat and cold hardiness and eastern filbert blight resistance. 

Unlike planting day last year which had a heat index of 105 and gnats everywhere, yesterday’s weather was perfect. After the planting is finished, we’ll mulch, set up the plant protectors and install the deer fencing around the Americana plot. We also need to start plumbing for the drip irrigation system we hope to use this year. – Troy Pabst, forestry property manager, Nebraska Forest Service

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Meet the Partners: Rutgers Research Focuses on EFB Resistance and Cold Hardiness
This hazelnut hybrid
developed at Rutgers
combines the high nut
quality of European
hazelnuts and the EFB
resistance of American

Rutgers University began hazelnut research and  breeding in 1996, focusing on developing hazels resistant to eastern filbert blight (EFB) and adapted to northern climates with high yield and pest resistance. 

Dr. Tom Molnar has collected germplasm worldwide in this effort, along with Dr. Shawn Mehlenbacher from Oregon State. Sources have included Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and other eastern European locations plus Turkey, England, Spain, Italy, Germany, Finland and Poland.  

Close collaboration between Rutgers University and Oregon State has resulted in hazelnuts that are resistant to eastern filbert blight and that produce excellent quality nuts.  

Rutgers scientists also are developing a new line of ornamental hazelnuts, including plants with purple leaves and bright fall color, and others with contorted and weeping branches.   
Among the ornamental hazelnuts developed at
Rutgers is this beautiful purple leaf hybrid.