Hazelnut Farming, Cultivation, And Production

Introduction to Hazelnut Farming and Cultivation Practices

Hazelnut (Corylus avellana L.) belongs to the family Betulaceae and it is also known as Cobnut or Filbert according to species. Hazelnuts are the easiest nut that grows in different states of India to a large extent. Hazelnut belongs to the family that includes common cobnuts and filberts to handle the shell and envelop the production to some extent. The quality of nuts and maintains of the tree is high as compared to other fruits. In India, some of the famous places where Hazelnut trees have been a fund for cultivation are Jammu, and Kashmir, Northern Easter Himalayan, and Uttarakhand. Hazelnuts are easy to grow trees; they don’t require as much space as other nut trees. Now, let us get into the process of Hazelnut Farming.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Hazelnut Farming Process and Production

When you want to start commercial Hazelnut farming, you must prepare a perfect Hazelnut farming business plan. Hazelnut trees are easy to grow and they produce sweet delicious nuts. They are naturally vigorous, large multi-stemmed bushes, coppiced for their wood. Hazelnut originates from temperate areas of North America, Europe, and Asia. Wild Hazelnut tree grows on well-drained soils, in areas that provide enough moisture. Cultivation of Hazelnuts is easy and most people discovered the nutritional and health benefits of this tree. Hazelnuts are very popular and one of the most commonly cultivated and consumed types of nuts in the world. It is a small tree that usually grows 20 to 40 feet in height. It has green, rounded leaves that are doubly toothed on the edges and both sides of leaves are covered with fine hairs.

Guide to Hazelnut Farming
Guide to Hazelnut Farming (Pic Source: Pixabay)

Different Varieties of Hazelnuts for Hazelnut Farming

Eennis, Barcelona, Lewis, Halls Giants, Casina, Butler, And Epsilon are of the variety of Hazelnuts. This Hazelnut tree grows by providing favored orchardists in different places. Hazelnut trees are wind pollination shapes and sizes to cultivate for quality production. Other important varieties of Hazelnuts are Tonda Romana, Barcelona, Negret, Tonda Giffoni, Tonda Gentile delle Langhe, Pauetet, and Tombul.

Climate and Soil Requirement for Hazelnut Farming

Under moderate climate, Hazelnut tree produces satisfactory crop along with the minimum temperature level of -10°C. Therefore, in a different region of India, Hazelnut is grown such as Jammu and Kashmir, Northern Easter Himalayan and Uttarakhand. Shallow root but wet soil affects the Hazelnut cultivation to some extent.

Hazels grew in pH levels ranging from 5.5 to 7.5, but better and more preferable is 7 for cultivation. Hazelnut trees can grow in most soil types, as long as it’s well-draining. They don’t do well in boggy, waterlogged areas, and they are best planted in light soils with a pH level of 5.5 to 7.5.

Hazelnuts are hardy plants that can survive adverse growing conditions. The trees should be grown in soil that is at least 2.4 to 3 meters deep and will grow optimally in well-draining, fertile loams with a pH level between 5.5 and 7.5. Hazelnuts will grow well in areas where wild hazel grows large and vigorous. Hazelnut trees tolerate a wide variety of soils from calcareous to acid, loam to clay soils. It will not grow well in waterlogged and peaty soils. Shallow soils will restrict the tree growth and height of hazel.

Land preparation for Hazelnut Farming

If growing for nut production in cold climates you must avoid planting in frost pockets, and in hot climates avoid windy sites. A sheltered area with a reliable source of irrigation is essential in hot climates for cultivating Hazelnuts. Hazelnut trees require fertile and deep soil. Also, it requires well-drained soil that can soak the rainwater, but the water does not stay stuck for long.

Tree Pollination Process in Hazelnut Farming

Hazelnut trees are wind-pollinated. In cold weather (-10°C and under) during the flowering time can destroy flowers and reduce fruit set. The trees are in theory self-fertile meaning the pollen from the male flowers can pollinate and fertilize the female flowers on the same plant. Though the blossoming times of the male and female flowers on the same plant do not always coincide and for this reason, it is recommended to plant 2 or more different tree cultivars to increase the likelihood of pollination occurring. Some cultivars require pollinating partners so research your cultivars well. The pollen germinates as soon as it reaches a receptive flower but the fertilization does not take place for another 4 to 5 months in June.

Pollination and fertilization must also take place for the Hazelnut tree to begin producing nuts. While most trees bloom and pollinate during the spring season, the Hazelnut tree is unusual, as it blooms and pollination occurs during the winter. Pollen travels on the breeze during the winter season to the female flowers of the nut-producing tree. Once a Hazelnut tree is established, you will begin to notice Hazelnuts forming during May.

Planting Distance and Planting Density in Hazelnut Farming

Hazelnut trees are the smallest growing of all of the nut trees and they reach a height of about 3 to 5 meters. Many people are also choosing to plant in what is being termed “double density” by planting double the number of Hazelnut trees in each row. These are planted 5.5 x 2.75 meters. Our ‘northern’ Hazelnut hybrids are somewhat smaller trees and can be planted at closer spacing. So, planting them at 4 x4 meters and double density planting is also an option.

Hazelnut tree is recommended to plant at a distance of about 4 meters between rows and 3 meters between plants. The areas for plantation must be marked that clear spray with the herbicide production process. It ripping that may require depending on soil with different soil. The bag to remove from base and roots gently loosened that provide major disturbances for planting procedure.

The area for planting must be marked and cleared or sprayed with herbicide. Usually, Hazelnut tree spacing is highly variable in different countries, as they depend on soil fertility, rainfall, and variety vigor. A planting density of about 860 trees/hectare is recommended with rows 4m- 5m apart (to allow machinery access) and 2 to 3 meters within row spacing. To ensure adequate pollination it is advisable to plant at least 10% of other varieties, evenly distributed throughout the stand. Planting is usually done during the winter months.

Time and Manner of Planting in Hazelnut Farming

The suitable time for planting Hazelnut is in autumn because the root system has significant activity during the winter season. It is not rare for Hazelnut trees to flourish in February, under favorable weather conditions. Care must be taken that the seedlings from the time of removal from the trap to the planting do not stay more than an hour uncovered to avoid drying the sensitive hair roots. If the soil is prepared without trenching but ordinary ploughing, it is necessary to dig a hole the size of about 60×60 cm.

Application of Manures and Fertilizers in Hazelnut Farming

Before planting and up to bearing age, organic and inorganic fertilizers must be applied according to soil analysis as follows;

  • Organic fertilizers such as FYM should be applied at around 30 tons/hectare if the soil organic matter is below 2 percent. The soil pH level is around 5.5, it must be raised to 6.5 by liming but not more than 5 t/hectare must be given in a single dressing.
  • Fertilizer application to mature Hazelnut trees should be based on leaf and soil analysis. The fertilizer recommendations for Hazelnut are 120 to 150 Kg/hectare of N, 60 to 70 Kg/ hectare P, and 100 Kg/hectare of K.

Irrigation Requirement for Hazelnut Farming

Irrigation is the best method to establish large trees rapidly and it uses countering excessive dry conditions for filling the stage for the production. In summer, 60 cm of the soil must dry on the other side deeper soil may not dry until the end of summer. Then, it fills the shell of the nut from December to February accordingly. So, irrigation is essential that need to overcome from the surface of the soil in summer.

In cooler climates, irrigation is not necessary. In warmer climes with hot summers and long periods without rain, applying 30 liters of water per tree every 3-4 weeks without rain and mulching well is effective. Drip irrigation system produces bigger trees, more nuts sooner, and fuller, heavier kernels. Drip irrigation is increasingly being adopted. Hazelnut trees must be irrigated every year during periods of low rainfall.

Hazelnut Tree Care

Never allow the soil around a Hazelnut tree to dry out completely. Hazelnut trees don’t need regular fertilization if they are grown in good soil. If you notice slow tree growth and pale leaves, the plant will probably benefit from a small amount of nitrogen fertilizer in spring.

Hazelnut trees need little or no pruning when grown as a shrub, other than the removal of suckers that arise from the roots. To shape a tree, choose 6 strong upper branches to form the main scaffolding, and remove the lower branches as well as those that hang down. Normally, Hazelnuts drop from the tree as they ripen in fall. Rake the nuts into a pile for easy harvest, and gather them every few days and the first nuts can be empty. Growing this hardy plant is easy, and you’ll enjoy the first nuts from the tree in as little as 4 years. Mulching Hazelnut trees with 10 to 20 cm deep mulch each spring and pulling weeds that start to grow through in the summer is good practice especially when the plants are young.

Pruning and Maintenance in Hazelnut Farming

Hazelnut trees often sucker (send up many shoots from the base of the plant. Suckering growth must be removed to keep the stems clear and the crownless congested. Beyond formative pruning and removing suckers don’t prune Hazels but there is a tradition, as with most fruit trees, to prune to achieve an open centered goblet shaped bush.

For optimal Hazelnut production, you should aim to have plenty of previous year’s stems at least 15 to 25 cm long. One nice thing about Hazelnuts is they can be shaped into trees, depending on your preference and available space. If growing as a shrub, they don’t need much pruning, other than removing the suckers that grow out of the base of the plant in the spring. Then, this helps to focus the plant’s energy on the main stem. If shaping into a Hazelnut tree, remove the lower and hanging branches, keeping 3 to 5 stems at the top of the main “trunk” or leader. Prune off all other tree branches and cut back any other suckers at the base. Continue to remove other new branches each year in late winter or spring season for the next few seasons until the leader branch has grown to a reasonable height.

Plant Protection Measures in Hazelnut Farming

Grey squirrels are a major pest of hazels. Nut weevils can destroy the maturing nuts. Beetles lay eggs in the immature nuts. Clearing up the fallen nuts is a good method to control this pest.

Armillaria root rot  

Small and discolored tree leaves to drop early; the death of plant; clusters of honey-colored mushrooms can sprout at the base of the plant.

Management – Armillaria root rot cannot be controlled once it has become established in an orchard; diseased or dead plants must be uprooted and removed; planting resistant rootstocks is the most effective method of preventing the disease.

Eastern filbert blight

The symptom of the disease is the presence of cankers, and generally on branches near the top of the tree; cankers can appear subsequently on any part of the plant causing plant leaves to rapidly wilt and dieback of branches.

Management – Prune out branches and twigs with cankers where possible; cuts must be made 0.6 to 0.9 m below the canker; pruning waste must be destroyed; destroy any volunteer Hazelnut trees from abandoned orchards.

Powdery mildew

Powdery mildew in Hazelnut trees is a major disease that causes yield loss. The newly introduced disease on Hazelnut developed comparatively early in spring, with symptoms being observed on leaves, young shoots, and immature nut clusters. Primarily, circular to irregular white patches of mycelium and conidia were observed on both sides of plant leaves.

Management – Disease does not cause severe damage to Hazelnut crops and control is not warranted.

Bacterial blight

Dieback of young twigs and branches; necrosis of buds and twigs; small, angular or round water-soaked which turn red-brown; stems can be girdled by cankers and leaves are killed but remain attached to the Hazelnut tree.

Management – Diseased areas of a tree must be pruned out by making cuts 0.6 to 0.9 m below the diseased area; avoid planting Hazelnut in water-logged or poorly draining soils; providing Hazelnut trees with irrigation to reduce water stress for the first 3 years after planting can greatly reduce mortality; applications of copper-based bactericide is recommended to control the disease.

Bacterial canker

Buds fail to break in spring and new crop growth is withered and dying; leaves become chlorotic and die; dead leaves remain attached to the Hazelnut tree after leaves drop from the tree in fall; cankers are formed in the bark and are visible as light gray areas.

Management – Applications of copper-based chemicals like Bordeaux mixture during leaf drop can help to control the Bacterial canker disease.

Hazelnut mosaic

Symptoms – Yellowing of leaves which occur as rings, lines, flecks, or vein banding; young trees may exhibit a reduction in new growth and reduced yield if the disease occurs in conjunction with the virus and infected plants have no outward symptoms.

Management – Only trees derived from virus-free stock; there is no known resistance to the virus.

When and How to Harvest Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts are harvested annually in mid-autumn. As autumn comes to a close, the trees drop their nuts and tree leaves. Nuts from the Hazelnut trees need to be harvested before the autumn rains. As the nuts ripen, they drop from the tree over approximately 6 weeks. Gather Hazelnuts from the ground.

Some of the fallen Hazelnuts may be wormy or even empty. It is very easy to distinguish between those nuts that are bad from good. Place the nuts in water and floating nuts are the duds. Discard any floaters. Also, insect-infested nuts will have holes in the shell and must be tossed out. Once Hazelnut picking has been accomplished, and it’s time to dry the nuts out. The nuts are ready for collection in autumn as soon as husks become yellow color. It means that perfectly ripe Hazelnuts can shake them off onto a tarpaulin sheet. These Hazelnuts get ripen during the season of September and October harvesting. Then, this nut needs to be harvested before the autumn rains as it is the preferred timing for ripening. Start Hazelnuts drying them within 24 hours after picking. Place Hazelnuts in a warm, dry place and stir them around every day. Hazelnuts dried in this manner should be completely dried in 2 to 4 weeks.

Hazelnut Yield Per Acre

A mature Hazelnut tree can produce up to about 25 pounds of nuts in a single year. The full production of Hazelnut yield is 2,800 marketable pounds per acre. Commercial crop yields begin in the third year and full production is reached in the 12th year. An orchard can remain productive for about 40 to 50 years if managed well and kept free of disease. When Hazelnuts change from green to brown and the abscission starts, is the best time of harvesting.

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