11 secrets for growing hazelnuts in your garden
Hazelnut is an age-old fruit plant in the form of a tree or shrub that produces delicious and crunchy fruits, the favorite hazelnuts. The cultivation of hazelnut, together with the cultivation of walnut, the cultivation of pistachio, and the cultivation of almond trees are the main crops for the production of nuts.
Hazelnuts have a sweet taste and can be eaten raw, roasted (cooked) or in the form of praline when ground. They are considered fruits of high nutritional value, rich in vitamins, antioxidants, proteins, and beneficial fats. Let’s see in detail what varieties of hazelnuts we can grow in our garden or field and what care they need during cultivation to thrive.
What are the most famous varieties of hazelnut?
In our country, we meet 2 basic types of hazelnut. The wild hazelnut (Corylus colurna) which is also known as Byzantine or Constantinople and is native to the forests and the day hazelnut (Coryllus avellana) which is also found under the name European hazelnut. Remarkable cultivated varieties of hazelnut are the Extra Yagli variety with medium fruit size, auburn color, and exquisite taste as well as Pallas variety with large fruit size, deep brown color and quite delicious. Both varieties ripen in September. The productive variety of Negreta hazelnut that ripens at the end of August, with relatively large fruit size and light brown color, is also quite interesting. Also, the American variety Ennis that matures in late September and is considered a productive variety of good quality. It is worth mentioning that some species of hazelnut and especially the Himalayan hazelnut (Corylus ferox) are used as an ornamental plant in gardening due to the rich and special lanceolate foliage, while also forming good quality fruits.
What conditions does a hazelnut crop need to thrive?
The hazelnut grows in areas with relatively cool and cold climates, without extreme low temperatures in winter and without high temperatures in summer. It grows best in semi-mountainous areas, especially when it receives a lot of rainfall. Suitable soils for the cultivation of hazelnut are the deep fertile ones that have good drainage. In such soils, the extensive hazelnut root system can be developed to absorb more nutrients and water, especially during the dry summer season. The cultivation of hazelnut enters normal production from the 7th year after its planting. Hazelnut production depends mainly on variety, climatic conditions, and fertilization. Indicatively, a hazelnut produces about 3-4 kg of hazelnuts every year.
How is hazelnut pollinated?
First of all, we must say that in the same hazelnut plant, in different places, the male flowers and the female flowers are found separately. Many times, depending on the variety, the male flowers ripen at a different time than the female flowers, usually earlier, resulting in problems with pollination and fruiting. To deal with this phenomenon and to achieve simultaneous flowering of male and female flowers, we use hazelnut pollinating varieties. The pollinating varieties give the pollen from their male flowers at a suitable time, so that it can be carried by the wind and fertilize the female flowers of the main cultivated variety. In order to achieve good pollination of the flowers and effective fruiting of the hazelnut, we usually plant a series of plants of the pollinating variety, after 10 rows of the basic cultivated hazelnut variety.
At what time is the hazelnut planted and at what distances?
A good time to plant bare-rooted hazelnut seedlings is the winter period before the buds swell and germinate when the plant is dormant. For hazelnut plants that we supply in pots and include a soil ball, planting is done in the spring. Suitable planting distances of the hazelnut between the planting sites and the planting lines are 6 x 6 or 5 x 6 meters if we have hazelnuts in the form of bushes or in a thinner planting 7 x 7 or 7 x 8 for hazelnuts in tree form. To grow hazelnuts in the form of a bush, we put 4-5 hazelnut plants in each planting position, while if we plant hazelnuts in the form of a tree, we put only one tree in each planting hole.
What watering needs does the hazelnut have?
Hazelnuts usually do not need watering, especially in areas with heavy rainfall. Watering is definitely necessary for young hazelnut trees to grow their vegetation during the first three years after planting. However, in conditions of high temperatures and drought during the summer, watering helps to increase the production of hazelnuts, as well as to improve the quality of the fruits.
What fertilizer is needed to grow hazelnuts?
Hazelnut needs complete fertilizer, rich in nitrogen and potassium to ensure good production. Of course, too much nitrogen combined with a lack of potassium can lead to increased shell thickness and a higher percentage of empty fruit. Of the trace elements, boron is very important, as its lack can create problems of infertility. To deal with the lack (nutritional deficiency) of boron, we spray the hazelnuts with boron foliar fertilizer in the spring period at the beginning of flowering.
What season and how do we prune hazelnuts?
Suitable time for pruning the hazelnut is in late winter, the period January – February, when the hazelnut is still dormant. The young hazelnut trees are pruned in such a way as to form either: a) in a bushy form where 3-6 central branches of the plant are preserved, or b) in a cup-shaped tree where there is a central trunk 1 meter high, on which grow 4 -5 central arms. On large hazelnut trees, pruning should be done every year. By pruning the hazelnut, we maintain the compact shape of the bushes or trees, maintaining new annual vegetation of about 20 cm. We also remove dry and weak branches. The basic care in pruning the hazelnut is to regularly remove the branches as soon as they start to grow from the base of the plant. In some cases of renewal of hazelnut bushes, we cut old central shoots, allowing new shoots to grow.
How is the hazelnut multiplied?
a) Propagation of hazelnut by cuttings
b) Hazelnut propagation by grafting the trees
What diseases and which insects affect the cultivation of hazelnut?
The hazelnut is infested with various insects, such as aphids and mealybugs, as well as a type of mite that causes deformation of the buds that acquire a characteristic knot shape. To fight insects and mites, we use organic insecticides such as summer pulp, potassium salt soaps, and natural pyrethrin that we procure from agricultural stores. Of the diseases that affect hazelnuts, the bacterial disease of carcinoma causes gradual drying of branches and even total drying of the hazelnut. Also, a significant problem in hazelnut fruits can cause mice, if not treated in time.
When are hazelnuts harvested and how are they preserved?
Hazelnuts are harvested when they ripen from late August to mid-September. At this stage, the leafy shell of the fruit turns yellow, the shell turns brown and the fruit is easily detached from the tree. The fruits of the hazelnuts are picked by hand from the ground either after a normal fall or after a beating. After the fruits are picked, we take out their skin and dry them in the sun or in special dryers. Hazelnuts can be stored for up to a year if stored in a cool environment inside the house. If placed in airtight containers in the refrigerator, they can be stored for at least two years.
And one last secret for growing hazelnuts
If we notice the tearing of the hazelnut fruits, it may be due to the rapid drying in the sun or in a dryer with high temperatures. This undesirable phenomenon of quality degradation occurs mainly in hazelnut fruits that are harvested with a high percentage of moisture.