SONG News January/March 2006 no. 73
In this Issue...

Nut Farm is a Park At Last

"Almost everyone in Westbank called him Uncle Jack," said Mary Fuller niece of Jack Gellatly. Now he has become an uncle of sorts to a whole community, as his carved wooden likeness greeted hundreds of people at the opening of the Gellatly Nut Farm Regional Park on Saturday.

One hundred years ago, the Gellatly family planted a few nut trees on a grassy point near Westbank. A century later, descendants planted a new tree on the site in memory of their forebears and in a gesture of hope, cheered by onlookers. "Uncle Jack would have been overjoyed to know so many others would delight in his nut farm," said Fuller.

She shared memories of her uncle who developed several varieties of nuts. Her memories included picnics with "fresh potatoes, butter and snippets of mint," the "aroma of creamy nut soup" from his kitchen, and a special attraction to the children at his front door, "a rubber mat with a bucket of nuts and a hammer."

But like so many pioneers, not all days were happy ones. Jack's wife, Sarah, was institutionalized, and their adopted son died of cancer in his early 20 's. Despite his personal sorrows, Jack made time for a little niece to sit on the piano bench beside him and sing on Saturday nights, after he patiently combed out the tangles in her ringlets.

For a century, the farm continued quietly producing nuts, as the community around it swelled to 35,000 people. Saturday, under sunny skies, in a freshly pruned and spruced up nut farm, dignitaries revelled in opening the farm to the public. "Green space for this population growth is vital and lake front at that. It's a dream come true for the whole community," said Aaron Dinwoodie, a director on the Central Okanagan Regional District (CORD).

CORD chairman, Robert Hobson, became involved with the farm in 1984 when it was added to a heritage inventory. "It's been a long haul and taken lots of work," he said.

Val Wilson was the first president of the Gellatly Bay Nut Farm Society, which raised $50,000.00 in a few weeks as the down payment on an option to buy the farm and save it from development 4 years ago. CORD then bought the farm for $3.4 Million. Diane Ophus, current society president, noted the community has donated $500,000 in cash and thousands of hours of labour to the project. Federal and provincial grants added $400,000 for the park development, with $200,000 from CORD.

Ophus singled out the "one person who has inspired others by her tireless dedication," Feme Jean, a niece of Jack Gellatly. Ophus added "we have positively changed the community forever."

The park narrowly missed designation as a national heritage site. Peter Bognar of the nut farm society said failing to get this national designation is a bad news good news scenario. "You have to follow a lot of rules. This way we have more latitude. But it would have helped getting national sponsors," says Bognar.

The celebration included one of the oldest Gellatly descendants and one of the youngest, Karli Kunzli, helping plant a new free, a Fioka nut tree. Children helped release doves to symbolize the spirit of celebration.
Dorothy Brotherton, Westside Weekly, BC

Discussions with a Nut Grower from the Left Coast

I had a long chat with Mr. Peter Andres of Agazzis, BC this December on various topics of common interest. Our discussion was very informative and I'm sure you want to share the information he passed on to me. These are some of the comments passed on.

Peter owns a 7.5 acre mature hazel nut farm that supports about 125 trees per acre on 18 x 18 ft. spacing. He is working on cutting out every other tree due to crowding. BC produces about 1,000,000 lb. annually on 800 acres. This year he harvested about 15,000 lb. of nuts. Resold 13,000 at $1.19 US$( $1.43 Cdn$) per lb. to a group in Washington State. Blue Diamond is getting out of the hazel nut business.

That sounds like a lot of money, but in about 2000 they only got $0.19/lb!, due to some sort of glut on the market. In 1996 he harvested 26,000 lb. at $0.65 US $ per lb. He kept back 2,000 Ib to sell on the farmer's market as a registered organic product. In-shell nuts went at $3.50 Cdn per lb. Shelled nut at $7 per 200 gm ($15.75 per lb. !)

Several people are starting to grow truffles on the hazelnut root stock. This does not harm the trees. Some people are working on producing hazel nut oil locally.

They can not import any trees from the US due to EFB (Eastern Filbert Blight). The only signs of EFB have been in Ft. Langley to date. They have determined that pruning and spray only lengthens the inevitable and is uneconomical. The immune trials in Oregon have proven to be a failure and have been stopped!

The local federal agriculture research station has been doing trials on potential candidates and would like more samples if we can pass them on. I hope to get contact names soon.

Ferraro Roche called them this summer to discuss product sourcing, but have not been back to them.

The story behind the reduced harvests in the Mid East is due to the mass migration of peasant workers from the countryside to the cities in Turkey and elsewhere in Europe. The hazel nuts grow in the bush, not in fields, typically over there. So there are fewer to harvest the crop and it can not be done mechanically. The entire better for us!

Let us review the potential of growing hazel nuts here compared to traditional crops. Corn typically yields out on tobacco sands at 130- 200 bu. per acre. At $3 per bushel the maximum you could expect is $600 per acre. Of this 50 to 75% is consumed by inputs. So you net out about $150 to $300 per acre. Your probable return is likely less than the $150 with equipment and land costs. You may even be in the hole!

Based on 2000 lb. of hazel nuts per acre at $1.43 per Ib your gross would be $2860. This would more than cover your initial tree costs in one year. The annual input cost can be quite low while the trees are maturing as well. SONG has a cost analysis on establishing a hazel nut farm on file for your review on request.

So you can see that there is a reasonable expectation for a profit growing hazel nuts. We just have to produce immune trees.
Martin Hodgson

The Hazelnut for Ontario
Ernie Grimo

Efforts have been made in the past to grow the hazelnut commercially in eastern North America with little success. Several factors have been at work here.

Eastern filbert blight (Anisogramma anomala) has been the main problem. This is an indigenous disease that attacks our native populations of American hazel and the smaller hardier beaked hazel found over much of eastern Canada. Most of the plants are resistant or immune and so the species survive. On the other hand, European hazels, common in commerce the world over is moderately to very susceptible to this disease. The infection is difficult to see in the first year.

The stoma, oval protruding rows of the fruiting body of the fungus appear in the second year and begin to release spores which are the cause of new infections. Wind driven rain and splash spreads the spores of this fungus which infects the new spring growth of susceptible plants. It eventually kills the branches and then the whole tree.

Control is possible by scouting the orchard to prune out and burn the infected branches during the winter season before they have a chance to spread the spores. This must be followed with newly registered sprays during the early spring. A better solution is to plant resistant or immune trees where no spraying is necessary for this disease.

After eastern filbert blight was discovered in the main hazelnut growing regions in Oregon, breeding efforts were begun at Oregon State University to develop blight resistant and ultimately immune cultivars of hazelnut trees. Shawn Mehlenbacher was assigned the task of doing the breeding and research.

'Gasaway', a European cultivar with a small poor quality nut was selected to provide the gene for resistance. Early introductions of the crosses had mild to moderate resistance. These include 'Casina' 'Willamette' 'Lewis' and 'Clark' to name a few. Immunity to blight followed with 'Zeta', 'Epsilon' and 'Delta'. These cultivars are currently recommended on the west coast as pollenizer varieties for the newer selections to be available in the next 1-2 years, one of which is called 'Santium'. These are small round nuts that are especially desired by the candy market to fit in their chocolates and candy bars. Oregon has accelerated the process of developing new cultivars by using DNA techniques to identify the 'Gasaway' gene in promising selections and tissue culturing to produce mass numbers of new clones in a short time.

A breeding project conducted at the Geneva Experimental Farm in the 1950's introduced several blight immune cultivars also. The best of these were identified as 'NY616' (Slate) and 'NY 398' (Geneva). These are excellent bearing trees with large firm kernels, well suited for the in-shell market. They were never released because they lacked resistance to bud mite infection. There are two species of bud mite which move into newly formed buds and feed on them, destroying the developing nut flowers. Since they are inside the buds, normal sprays can only be used when they migrating from old 'blasted' buds to the new forming buds. Sticky traps are used to identify when they are actively moving so the spray can be timed effectively.

Some trees have small tight buds which resist the penetration of these mites and so do not need to be sprayed for this insect, notably native hazels, C. heterophylla and Turkish tree hazels. Cecil Farris, in Michigan found that 'Faroka', a Turkish tree hazel cross, has this resistance and so do its seedlings. I have two of these Turkish hybrids, 'Grimo 186M' and 'Grimo208D' which exhibit resistance to bud mite and immunity to filbert blight.

These trees produce large nuts similar to European varieties suitable for the in shell markets. A long time hazelnut grower, Martin Hodgson near Simcoe, Ontario, has made several selections that may show promise for us too. Besides the need for blight immunity and bud mite resistance we need to find suitable pollenizers for our conditions here. Hazel trees are one of the first to break out into bloom in the spring, often in March during warm spells when winter conditions and sub freezing temperatures still occur.

The female bloom of most hazels are hardier than the male catkins and once pollinated, they can often resist freezing conditions. The male catkins of most European cultivars are not hardy enough for our winters, and though native trees are hardy enough by far, they will not pollinate the European trees. By using pollen from the European onto the native hazels, hybrids have been developed that have hardy catkins. The hybrids are compatible with the European hazels and so can act as pollinators for them. This is true of the NY types which used the American hazel as the female parent. The off-spring are hardier than the European parent and have the nut and tree size of the European.

Plans are underway to set up an experimental hazelnut planting at the Simcoe Experimental Station to test the current cultivars for Ontario conditions. Though arrangements are not completed as yet, we hope to test and evaluate some European, Oregon and local selections. It will be a year or more before planting can begin.

The Ferrero Candy Company is interested in any good quality nut we can require whole round medium to small blanched and unblanched nuts similar to the Oregon selections, while others have no specific qualities, just firm good tasting nuts. They will grind up these nuts and use them in pastes and spreads.

Other markets for our hazel-nuts include farm gate sales, local fruit markets, local coops, bulk food stores, health food stores and the Toronto Food Terminal are just a few of the outlets for your nut production.

Since hazelnuts are not immediately perishable, once dried, they can be held over into the next growing season in perfectly fresh quality if they are refrigerated or frozen.

There is an almost unlimited demand from chocolate, candy, pastry and ice cream makers for fresh quality hazel-nuts. Indeed, the enterprising hazelnut grower can develop value added products for his nut crop much like Ernie Ratz has done with his peanut producing facility south of Simcoe, Ontario.
Ernie Grimo

Notes from Butternut Farm, Courtland Ontario
Martin Hodgson

Documentation of Hazel nut trees
It has become apparent in the last few years that a number of the original 5000 seedling trees we planted here since 1994 are giving promising indications that they may be immune to the Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB) that has devastated not only our orchard, but others locally and on the West coast.

The identification, locating and characterization of these individual "immune" trees have become quite important for good record keeping. The potential value of a proven immune hazel nut tree has increased dramatically recently.

The following presents some of the tools and concepts we have tried to use to carry out the above tasks and in some way quantify the characteristics exhibited on the trees deemed worthy. They are incomplete and can probably be improved on. They are here for the benefit of all SONG members and fellow nut growers. Hopefully we can all use these guidelines to develop a wide database with common reference points.

Each tree should have a unique number that will serve to separate it from all others. This number should be attached to the tree in some manner so that it is not lost. We have found that flagging tape will only last a few months normally. Metal strips that you impress the number on to will last a number of years, provided the wire ties are repositioned annually or replaced every few years. On larger trees a large splotch of light paint with the number in black marker, dark paint or actually carved into the bark, works for a while, provided they are out of the sun.

We need to find the same tree on repeated occasions over the years. Usually this is done with a grid pattern, but with the 95% loss in our fields, the grid pattern has been almost decimated. Whole lines of trees are gone. We probably could use a GPS system. Until that comes to fruition we have basically identified them by year planted (hence the field they are in) and then tried to follow the remnants of the grid pattern they were set out in originally. Ultimately any cloned progeny that come from a certain tree will have that original number or be referred to it in our records.

This is the most time consuming part of the job. Each tree is a seedling and as such a unique individual with differing variations, however slight, on the same theme. We must identify the characteristics we wish to study and quantify them in a simple manner that leaves lots of leeway for error but still allows for good comparisons to be made between trees and balanced decisions. In many cases the answer is yes or no. In others a rating between 1 and 5 gives the wide range of leeway yet identifies the "good" ones.

Here are the various topics that we review several times a year, but not necessarily every time. They can be divided into differing groups, such as tree morphology, diseases observed, presence of flowers and catkins and finally nut condition, quantity and maturity. I am sure there are others that we may be missing too.

Tree Morphology Height and spread of tree in feet or meters.
Number of stems 0 = 1, 5 = many (many indicate diseases)
Size of stems 0 = all large, 3 = mix of large and small, 5 = all small (this may indicate diseases, pruning and if the tree can be layered)
Suckers: Are there any suckers from this year? Yes or No
Diseases observed Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB) Yes or NO any comments added
Bud mite 0 = none seen, 3 = moderate, 5 = heavy infestation
Other Written notes on specific problems seen.
Flowers and Catkins Flowers in spring 0 = none, 5 = many
Catkins - quantity 0 = none, 5 = many
Catkins - viability 0 - all dead 5 = most alive (independent of quantity, springtime only)
Nut quantity and conditions This review should be carried out near Aug. 1, Sept 1, and on
Quantity 0 = none, 3 = many, 5 = heavily loaded
Size 0 = less than 1/2", 5 = large, > 3/4"
Shape R = round 0 = oval
Tree Yield Actual weight of fresh nuts gathered
Rotation The nut is ripe when it can be spun in the husk Sample a few and record % that spin
Fill Cut the fresh nut in two with shears. Indicate % of nut volume filled with meat
Nut Yield Crack 50 representative nuts, separating the shells from the meat. Toast both at 275 - 300°F until skins crack. Weigh both and determine yield. Do not include any void nuts. They would have been separated out. Always roast a few extra, without shells, for tasting.
Nut Taste Taste a sample of roasted nuts and comment.
Nut Skin Comment on % of nut skin that comes off after roasting. c.
Nut Surface Comment on nut surface. Smooth or Fuzzy

One of the World's Best Butter Tarts

Loosely fill the tart shells with pecan pieces and a few raisins. The syrup mixture is then poured in until it levels out near the top of the tart shell. Bake for about 25 minutes at 350°F until browned and bubbling. Let them stand for 10 to 20 minutes.
Syrup mixture. Blend until uniform
1/4 cup of melted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup of com syrup
2 eggs
1 large splash of vanilla
2 large splashes of dark rum
1 pinch of salt
This mixture should fill 12 to 16 tart shells depending on how many nuts and raisins you put in them. You can substitute 50% of the corn syrup with an equal volume of maple syrup if you wish, or alternatively just add some maple flavouring.
Martin Hodgson

SONG Growers' Meeting

This year's annual growers' meeting was held on February 7, at the research station in Simcoe, Ont. Lots of interesting speakers!

The meeting started with Ray MacKenzie, from Vanden Bussche Irrigation, giving us an overview of irrigation products that might be suitable for establishing a nut orchard. Next, Bernie Scmidt from the Federal Government, shared information on their IWRAP program.

Siri Siriwardena, from the federal SR&ED program, gave us details on grant applications. Cathy Baker, of OMAF, followed with a presentation summarizing the nut plantings at Simcoe. We broke for lunch at 12:00 noon and enjoyed pizza, sweets and refreshments. After lunch, Ernie Ratz, from Colonel Peanuts of Vittoria Ont., gave us his views on processing, and value adding to your products. These were lessons learned by starting a successful alternative tobacco business from scratch.

Martin Hodgson provided information on hazelnuts in Ontario. Subsequently, Todd Leuty, OMAF, gave us an update on what has been approved for us with nut crops to control pests. Next up was Dr Adam Dale, telling us about the grant application to set up hazel trials at Simcoe.

We finished with a growers' roundtable discussion.

Discovery of Taxol Drug in Hazelnuts

Paclitaxel (brand name Taxol), a drug commonly used to treat breast cancer, has been found by chance in hazelnuts. Dr. Angela M. Hoffman of the University of Portland, Oregon, made the discovery while investigating a plant disease called the Eastern Filbert Blight. The finding could mean less expensive Taxol prices for breast cancer patients.

Taxol is currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat both early and late stage breast cancer. The drug is also used to treat ovarian cancer, certain types of lung cancer, and Kaposis sarcoma (a cancer that begins as soft, brownish, or purple nodules on the feet and spreads through the skin to the lymph nodes and abdominal organs). Recent clinical trials have also shown that Taxol could be effective in treating polycystic kidney disease, multiple sclerosis , Alzheimer's disease, psoriasis, and other diseases.

Dr. Hoffman discovered Taxol by grinding up plant material from various trees known to be resistant to the blight she was investigating and comparing them to trees that were prone to the blight. Dr. Hoffman noticed that the resistant trees contained large amounts of a chemical that resembled Taxol. After three years of investigation, tests confirm the presence of Taxol in the leaves, stems, and raw nuts of hazelnut trees. Interestingly, Taxol was first isolated in 1967 from the Pacific yew tree, a tree found in parts of the US Pacific Northwest. Dr. Hoffman says that consuming hazelnuts or hazelnut-flavoured products such as tea, coffee, or candy would probably not have any significant medical benefit against breast cancer or other diseases.
reprinted in part from

Provided by SONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.