SONG News September 2011 no.92
In this Issue...

These healthy looking specimens although small are clones of resistant Hazelnuts waiting to be transplanted into a greenhouse for growing on...

Notes from the Hazelnut research chair
Martin Hodgson

The development of a commercial protocol to allow the tissue culturing of hazelnuts is complete or nearly so and several selected nut trees are well on their way to completion of the initial phase of producing a "clean" sprout with no contamination. Other varieties have been selected to make up the first group now tentatively planned on going out to the customer in 2013.

Consideration is being given into the commercial replication and nurturing of the young trees in order to speed thing up and produce the large number of trees needed.

Another study has been going on that looks at different ways of growing up the young sprouts. This in the hope of getting a bigger tree to the field sooner. A number of my older, dried seeds were used and successfully germinated. I understand that the final group of trees from this test will end up on my farm this fall for continued long term study.

Right now, for the big plant out in 2013, it looks like fall plantings may be the best way to go with a longer window of opportunity to prepare the land and plant the trees. In the fall we have from Oct. to Dec. to plant, while in the spring there is only about 3 weeks in April before bud break. (This would be extended if the trees come in 1 -3 gallon containers as expected).

Notes from Butternut Farm

Ever since our only butternut fell over in the early 2000's we have been thinking of changing our farm name to something else like Hazelnut Haven or maybe Long Lost Labour Acres or Deeper in Debt Hollow? Anyway we will see.

The spring thaw was about normal, near the end of March but cool, wet and windy. Worries about hazel nut pollination were quickly buried when the large volume of nuts growing on the trees was observed in June. Lots of them, even on trees normally without nuts due to bud mites.

We have also noted a good potential yield on the chestnuts and the kiwi berries this year. Our northern pecans appear void of nuts this year, while near Simcoe, Carl Groen's orchard has a very heavy load, (different variety I expect). We had a lot of hearmut flowers and no spring frost this year but can see no nuts to speak of. That is at least 4 or 5 years shut out in a row for us.

Finally, after 21 years we have our first shellbark hickory tree with a good load of seeds. Whether we get any is yet another question

Sampling the hazelnuts in mid-August indicated that most were filled by then. Sporadic varmint evidence was first noticed in late July when most nuts were less than 1/2 full. It has continued since then. No raccoon damage yet.

The intense drought experienced in July did not seem to affect the fill of the nuts. It did though Crispin and brown up parts of some leaves on only some trees. Most adult trees fared well; even those tree spaded this year.

We were late in getting the buried irrigation line in and missed most of the drought period. As a result we lost about 10% of the clones planted out in 2010 and 2011. At least it looked like it initially. Many though have come back with new leaves and sprouts. Time will tell.

We applied tree tubes around each tree this year to help support the tree, but primarily to protect it from the round up/Devrinol spray that was applied along a 2' (600 mm) wide strip along the rows to eliminate weed competition. Nearly all of the trees shot up out through the top of the 3 ft high shelters with good growth. See Ernie Grimo for these shelters. He has the best deal for them.

The latest news is that I was able to pick up a Flori 210 harvester in Oregon this spring and finally got it home in August. It will at least pick up the nuts if any fall to the ground.

I will be using a Makita commercial back pack blower to wind row the few seeds I get for now. I expect to mainly use it on chestnuts for a while. You can get this 76 cc 4 cycle model on Ebay for $450 which is about 40% less than locally and about 1/10 the price of a sweeper.

That's all for now
Regards Martin Hodgson

Shagbark Hickory

The shagbark hickory is native to Southern Ontario, growing in a wide range of soils in zone 5 & 6. It is easily identified by the bark which sticks out and appears to be falling off, giving it a shaggy appearance and thus its name. It has a long heavy tap root and so is considered difficult to transplant. It is important to have a 60 cm taproot when moving one. Then it takes two years for the tree to recover and make good growth again. Grown from seed, it can take 10 or more years for hickory trees to start to bear. Grafted trees will begin to bear sooner.

Wild shagbark hickory trees will produce a good crop every second year and often the nuts are difficult to remove from the shell. Internal ridges add to the difficulty of removing the nut meat. A large number of selections were made in the last century. A few of them combine the good characteristic of easy kernel removal with good production. Some of the good selections for Ontario include Neilson (an Ontario selection), Weschcke, Yoder 1, Glover and Wilcox.

The bitternut hickory is also native to Ontario and true to its name is not edible. To the inexperienced collector, it can be confused with the shagbark. One soon learns the differences in the compound leaves, bark, husk and nut shape that matches this taste, so that this experience is not repeated.

Shellbark Hickory

The shellbark hickory or big shagbark hickory, as it is sometimes called is another hickory species that is native to the mildest regions of Ontario. Its range spreads southward from there covering much of the Eastern United States. It has a nut that ranges from shagbark size to a large egg size. Its kernel can match the Persian walnut in size. The shell is generally thicker than a shagbark, requiring a hammer or vise to break through it to get at the nut meat inside. Shellbark hickory nuts have internal shell ridges like the shagbark that make kernel removal difficult. Improved grafted varieties have smaller ridges and the shell shatters in a way that make it easier to remove the kernel in halves. In other respects, the shellbark is similar to the shagbark.

Generally, the shellbark hickory needs the long hot summers found further south to ripen the nuts. A few cultivars ripen soon enough for the shorter Ontario season and do well in zone 6. Henry, Fayette and Keystone are among the best.

Chinese Chestnut Winter Soup

Though called a winter soup, it could be served anytime of the year, add pea greens or snow peas shortly before serving.
1 lb. (450 g) tofu or salt pork
2 Tbsp Peanut oil
1 small pod red chilli pepper
1/4 lb. (110 g) Shiitake mushrooms
6 cups (1-1/2 litres) water
28 chestnuts
2 medium parsnips
2 medium turnips
2 leeks
1 small winter squash
1 Tbsp soy sauce to taste
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro

Chop the tofu or pork into squares and brown in peanut oil in the bottom soup pot. Cut the chilli pepper in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Add the pepper to the pot. Slice the mushrooms and saute everything together until soft. Add the water and bring to a boil. If using fresh chestnuts, have them roasted and peeled before hand. Dried peeled chestnuts can be used, but must be soaked overnight. Add the chestnuts to the soup. Chop the parsnips, turnips and leeks and add to the soup. Peel, seed and chop the winter squash into bite size squares and add to the pot, until the vegetables are just tender. Add soy sauce to taste and finely chopped cilantro. Serve with noodles or steamed Chinese buns.

Hazelnut interview on YouTube

This interview was with Peter Andres of the BC Nut growers. It shows a well established marketer of his home grown products and what can be done with them.

Hello to all our friends, hazelnut customers: This was brought to my attention today. I remember the interview, totally out of the blue, unrehearsed. I never knew it was to be on YouTube, thought it was for a newspaper clip. Enjoy watching a clip about positive things on YouTube.

Poplar Grove Arbour - Hazelnut Link
Peter G Andres Poplar Grove Arbour (Hazelnuts) Agassiz, BC

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