Notes from Butternut Farm 2009
We started out this year late in March with the Hazelnut mating dance. This continued on for about three weeks into the middle of April. During that time evening temps dropped to as low as -7C and we had great concern about the success of the pollenization. July quelled these fears and we are looking forward to a fairly heavy crop on some trees and at least a showing on just about every tree that could. Goes to show you how tough these hazels can be. Can't say much for all the other nut trees though! We lost all of the heartnuts, kiwi and black walnuts to at least 20 ft. height in several frosts, the latest on about the 16th of May. Even the Sumac was burnt. It also appears to be a bad year for the chestnuts too.
We moved the last of the immune survivors into the orchard array we started last year. All seem to be doing fine in part due to all the rain we have had. There are about 140 of these 12 to 15 year old trees in a close 20 x 20 ft. array. All of last year's transplants survived the winter. Many have a few nuts on them, but there is significant foliage loss on the main stems. The longer branches appear to have died off in many cases. The leaves tend to be close to the trunks. You really have to prune these trees back when transplanting them. It may be best just to lop them off at the ground level and let the sprouts regenerate the tree.
We also planted about 350 of the 2007 clones from selected trees out in a 10 x 20 ft. array adjacent to the survivors. There are now close to four acres of immune hazelnut trees planted. I am basically back to about 1995!
We strung out irrigation lines to all of the new trees and transplants and used drip type emitters. It has been a while since I dealt with young transplants and I had almost forgotten how fast the weeds get out of hand. Backpack spraying in July is no fun!
I can not stress enough that these new trees need to be housed in a protective tree shelter to allow for periodic single point spraying of both pre and post emergent herbicides. Better living through chemistry I say. If you are going organic, use sprays for the first few years when you have no crop anyway. It is a lot easier and more cost effective then hiring labour to pull weeds.
It also became apparent that the irrigation lines cannot be on the surface. You cannot cross cultivate, level or mow with them in place. You cannot harvest the nuts easily with the lines in place either. Buried seems the best option at about $800 per acre.
The first signs of varmints eating the new nuts was about Aug. 15. These days you can see the crop flying away in the mouths of the jays and crows. When's opening day anyway?
In closing, in one recent meeting we had with the head of Ferrero Roche Canada he indicated that they expected to double their volume of Nutella production in Brantford. This is most important to us in that they use crushed nuts for that product and shape is of no importance, but taste is. He then stated that if we can get the volume of crop up and it meets their quality and taste criteria, they will gladly use our "off shape" nuts. This is where we start the process of establishing a hazelnut industry in Ontario.
Minutes from the Annual Summer Meeting
The August 01, 2009 SONG meeting was held at The Grimo Nursery, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario with 26 SONG/ECSONG members present including The Spearman's from the Ottawa area. Members introduced themselves and outlined their interest in "nut growing". Those present had varied interests in Nut Growing from back yard hobbyists to full fledged Nut Growers. It was a pleasure to have Douglas "Roberto" Campbell attend the meeting. Mr. Campbell was very active as a member of SONG & NNGA and the developer of a number of nut, pawpaw & persimmon varieties that are still in demand.
Olga Crocker, SONG Development Officer, submitted a request July 17/09 to Can Advance for funding for development of a Heart Nut Cracker. At the time of the meeting there was continued communication with Can Advance. Mrs. Crocker was advised in September Can Advance approved the request for funding. Can Advance Funding with SONG's $5,000.00 contribution is a great beginning. The University of Windsor Students & Staff as well as SONG members are elated at Mrs. Crocker's success.
There was a motion proposed by Chris Cunliffe, seconded by Doug Campbell & passed that SONG contribute up to $150.00 towards the great lunch provided by the Grimo's.
Incorporation of SONG, which had been discussed at earlier meetings and for which costs had been approved & passed, was deemed unnecessary for now, for obtaining funding for research, etc.& limiting personal liability.
Linda Grimo suggested some research should be considered into the viability of producing Chestnut Blossom Honey, as a source of income for Chestnut growers & local beekeepers.
Chris Cunliffe recommended that the current slate of directors & officers continue by acclamation, in as much as there were no other persons offering to serve. Slate accepted by Linda Grimo & seconded by Nathan Crocker.
There were discussions with respect to Blight Resistant Hazel clones & their availability from The Grimo Nursery. Linda Grimo indicated that harvested nuts should be washed in a bleach solution for a minimum of sixty (60) seconds. The solution is made up of 1/2 cup bleach mixed in three (3) pails of water.
There was a tour of the Grimo Nut Nursery and of the equipment needed for growing & processing of harvested Nuts for sale.
Doug Campbell made a motion to adjourn the Meeting.
Dear members of ECSONG and nut growers in eastern Ontario
A couple of quick updates for you:
Do you supply nuts or trees? Please check these links:
Send me an e-mail if you'd like to be listed here. I would like to get the Marketplace pages on the website up to date.
A number of restaurants in the province are interested in providing locally grown food. Have you considered this market for your nut crop? If you have a success story to share please e-mail me.
John Sankey has become the treasurer for ECSONG. Thanks to John for going through the books and getting our finances in order.
John is also the co-coordinator of the Dolman ridge nut groves with Joffre Cote of the Rideau
Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA). On May 5 John led a group from the RVCA and the
National Capital Commission through the groves at Dolman ridge in order to create a new
maintenance plan for the groves. ECSONG volunteers will be involved in maintaining the trails,
cutting back vegetation in competition with the nut trees and continued research.
Jeff Blackadar / Chairman ECSONG
Provided by SONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.