SONG News January 2007 no. 76
In this Issue...

Mycorrhizae
Dr. Raymond Curanzy

The term Mycorrhizal comes from Latin, myco meaning fungus and rhiza meaning root. Mycorrhizal fungi are those that have a symbiotic (mutually Beneficial) relationship with the root systems of living plants. Networks of mycorrhizal and filaments envelope the seedlings root structure, greatly extending and enhancing (by a factor of several thousand times) the growing plants water and nutrient gathering abilities. They also help protect the plant from disease.

Commercial preparations usually contain endomycorrhiza and ectomycorrhiza. Certain plants do better with one or more species than others.

The best-known benefit of mycorrhizal inoculation is the plant growth response. However this is not always the important benefit. In many cases the real benefits may be improved soil structure, protection from pathogens, and in a restored plant community, increased seedling survival, higher species diversity, and a greater resistance to invasion by weeds. There can be improved resistance to drought and beneficial hormonal effects as well.

Although mycorrhiza live in a symbiotic relationship with the plant, soil factors that effect microorganism growth must be considered (ie: organic matter, aeration, the presence of oxygen, moisture, and temperature, soil fertility and pH).

The most publicized benefit of mycorrhiza is the improved rate of growth often shown in experimental comparisons of mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal. This is most often a benefit of improved phosphorus nutrition; less often growth response is the result. Some of mycorrhiza of Ericaceae plant family appears to significantly improve uptake of nitrogen.

Some mycorrhizal fungi produce plant hormones that have a direct effect on plant morphology and plant growth hormonal effects have been well documented with some ectomycorrhizal fungi.

Mycorrhizal fungi have profound effects on soil microflora, including important root-surface bacteria.

So in summary, mycorrhizae are symbiotic soil fungus present in most soils, which attach themselves directly onto the roots of most plants. They help the host plants absorb more water and nutrients while the host plants provide food for the fungi. Reprinted from the Nut Kernel, the quarterly newsletter of the PNGA (Pennsylvania Nut Growers Association.

Filbert or Hazel Nut
Dr. Raymond Curanzy

Grandpa why do you call this a hazel and at other times a filbert when the label says "Corylus avellana"?

Good question son - a lot of people are confused. Some use the names interchangeably and others are sticklers for their point of view. Some feel the European varieties are Filberts and the American varieties are Hazels. Others feel that the husk that resembles a beard is the filbert.

There are nine species of Corylus recognized by most authorities, many more have been described and named but most are found to be variants of the basic nine. Most are self-sterile, since they will not set nuts with their own pollen. This results in many cross-breeds (hybrids).

Here in North America we have two species of Corylus that are indigenous: The American filbert, C. americana, primarily in the east and the beaked filbert, C. cornuta, which ranges from east to west. Nuts of these two species occur in closed husks.

Back to the original question: the filbert/hazel nut has an interesting etymology. The genus name Corylus comes from the Greek word "Korys" meaning a helmet or hood. Hazel comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for hood or helmet. The name "Hazel" usually described a nut whose husk was shorter than the nut. Conversely, the name "Filbert" is thought by some to have originated with the term "full beard" referring to a long husk. But I like to think that it originated from St. Filbert, whose feast day is celebrated on August 22nd; at the time the nut matures. Down east most people call them hazel and out west they only know the name as filbert. In case you're confused some names for C. avellana/C. colurnal/C. americana crosses are "trazel", "Hazelbert", and "Filhazel". In England the C.avellana is called a cob nut.
Reprinted from the Nut Kernel, the quarterly newsletter of the PNGA (Pennsylvania Nut Growers Association.

2006 - The Crop Year in Review

This spring started out relatively dry but developed into one of our wettest growing seasons, almost the opposite of the previous year. A late April frost was avoided when my neighbour's wind machines went on in the wee hours of the night and dispelled any chance of frost. My figs were already out at this time and would have been injured except for this protective movement of air. Only one leaf was singed by frost on a small heartnut tree in the nursery. It was the farthest tree from any of the wind machines.

Everything grew remarkably well thanks to the warm June through August weather punctuated by timely rains. September through November proved to be cool with frequent rains continuing. Nut crops were good on all species.

The rainy weather made harvest difficult for our machine harvesters, so we resorted to using our 'Wizard' and 'Bag-A-Nut' machines to pick up some of the nuts. We had to wait for the driest days between rains to use our motorized sweeper harvesters. Grass grew lush and heavy and though it was cut, the shear volume of clippings sometimes clogged the harvester. The Lockwood harvester performed best under these conditions compared to the Savage harvester.

There was an excellent crop of hazelnuts on almost all trees. 'Geneva' and 'Slate' produced almost a bushel of nuts each. It is hard to be accurate for production because the trees are adjacent to other trees and the nuts drop and become mixed. Needless to say, these trees are the most productive in the orchard and out-perform all others every year even in bad years.

The heartnut crop was very good also on all cultivars but especially good on 'Imshu', Campbell CW1', Campbell CW3, 'Simcoe 8-2', and 'Stealth'. All trees though stressed from the drought of 2005 bounced back almost unaffected this year.

The Persian walnut crop was good, but down from last year by about 40 percent. Some trees failed to have a crop and trees that died back to the trunk from the summer drought of 2005 of course had no nuts. It will be several more years before the trees regain lost growth and can produce a crop again. 'Lake', 'Coble 2', 'Harrison', 'Combe', 'ISU 73-H-24' all had good crops as did all of our other outstanding selections.

Walnut blight was a problem due to the frequent rains. Walnut blight is a bacterium that is carried by rain to new sites of infection. Tender tissue like developing nutlets, new growth, and young leaves are invaded. It causes blackened tissue and often drops nuts prematurely. Infected nuts that hold on to the end of the season have to be sorted out creating extra work at harvest. Out best cultivars have some resistance to this disease and will produce a good crop most years.

We had a good crop of chestnuts and the quality was good. The nuts were larger than usual due to the rains but not as large as expected. The cool September probably caused some reduction in size, as the heat units weren't there as it was in 2005. In 2005 the nut size was larger than normal even though there was a rainfall deficit in summer. This was followed by a warm September with near adequate rainfall proving that a warm moist September is critical for chestnut sizing.

The hickory crop was good this year, but down about 30% from 2005. This is normal as hickory tends to biennial bear, alternating with heavy and light crops. By contrast, our pecan crop was up this year and even with the cool fall, filled nuts on all of our cultivars. Strangely enough, ' Stark's Hardy Giant' pecan, a cultivar that fills once every 3-4 years filled this year and not last year with the hotter summer. This is also true of 'Underwood' hican that unexpectedly filled. Needless to say, all pecans ripened this year and most were larger size than usual attesting to the need for adequate summer rains when the nuts are sizing up.

All being said, we had a good growing season. Disease seemed to be more of an issue. Hickories had leaf tip browning probably due to fungus. More sprays with copper oxychloride were needed to control walnut blight on the Persian walnuts. A dormant oil will be needed next spring on the chestnuts as mites have caused some bronzing on the surface of chestnut leaves this year. This spray seems to be needed about every 3-4 years.
Ernie Grimo.

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