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Third-generation hybrid hazels

Cracked hazelnuts

Hazelnuts have a lot of potential as a low-work garden plant, but blights make straight-up European hazelnuts problematic in the eastern United States. Luckily, various institutions have been experimenting with combining the disease-hardiness of American hazelnuts with the productivity of European hazelnuts over the last decade, and we jumped on the bandwagon very early on.

 

Our previous hazel experiments

Walden Effect hybrid hazel experiments

I used Google to search through our old posts to refresh my memory, and they actually got the facts right. But what’s most relevant to this post is:

Which brings us to…

 

A new hope

Male flower buds on hybrid hazel bushes

Hybrid hazel bushIn April 2020, we planted two hybrid hazel bushes here in Ohio: Yamhill and Dorris, both from Burnt Ridge Nursery. As expected, both have grown well with very minimal attention — I think I’ve kill-mulched under them every other year. Both are shaping up to look much more like European hazelnuts (tall and less bushy) than like American hazelnuts (shorter and with lots and lots of trunks). But what about the nuts?

Many plants with separate male and female flowers start out male only as they mature since it’s a lot less work to produce pollen than fruit. Sure enough, in spring of this year (2023), the Yamhill produced its first male flowers. Now, the Dorris is following suit while the Yamhill is completely coated in both male and (I think) female flower buds.

So it looks like 2024 will be the test! Do these more carefully selected hybrid hazels produce nuts with shells thin enough so I don’t have to pull out my hammer? Stay tuned for a taste test this coming fall!

4 thoughts on “Third-generation hybrid hazels

  1. Let’s hope you’re rewarded well for your patience. (I always wanted to be a tree farmer– How hard can it be?..Just plant a few acorns and sit back and wait for 100 yrs or so.)

    I too got involved with that Arbor Day project about 20 y/a but the bare root sprigs they sent out didn’t do well at all.

    I moved to a property in WI that has a 2 ac hickory grove– 100+ trees in various stages of growth from saplings to 24 inch trunks/100 ft tall trees. It seems only those on the south facing edge of the grove produce nuts. While there are many new sprouts each spring, the deer make fast work of most of them. The nuts are of excellent, sweet taste- like miniature walnuts, but the small size makes them difficult to shell…I think I spend more calories getting them out than I gain in eating them.

    1. That’s the nice thing about hazels — it’s more like wait 5 years than wait multiple decades the way it is for other nuts. Now, whether the shells will be thin enough to make them worth cracking is another matter.

      Thanks for sharing about your hickory grove!

      1. By coincidence, I came across this interesting piece on hazel nuts today:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdIoNp5OuXo

        1. Thank you so much for sharing! It seems like this is hazel appreciation week. 🙂

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