Where Are Hazelnuts Grown In Oregon? A Comprehensive Guide

Hazelnuts, also known as filberts, are a beloved commodity in Oregon.

The state’s moderate climate and rich volcanic soils make it the perfect place for growing high-quality hazelnuts.

In fact, Oregon produces 99% of the hazelnuts grown in the United States, with the remaining 1% coming from Washington.

With over 1,300 farms growing hazelnuts on more than 80,000 acres, it’s no wonder that hazelnuts are the state nut of Oregon.

In this article, we’ll explore the history of hazelnut production in Oregon, the different varieties of hazelnuts grown in the state, and how they are harvested and processed.

So grab a handful of your favorite hazelnuts and let’s dive in!

Where Are Hazelnuts Grown In Oregon

The majority of hazelnuts grown in Oregon are found in the Willamette Valley. This region produces approximately 99% of the hazelnuts grown in the United States, with the remaining 1% coming from Washington.

Hazelnut trees are native to the Pacific Northwest, and one species, the beaked hazelnut, can be found growing in many Oregon neighborhoods. However, the most popular and “traditional” variety of European hazelnut trees in Oregon is the Barcelona.

In addition to the Barcelona, there are nearly twenty other commercial varieties of hazelnuts commonly grown in Oregon. These include the Ennis, Clark, Jefferson, Dorris, Lewis, and Wepster varieties. Each variety features different characteristics in size, texture, and flavor of the nut, as well as height and appearance of the tree.

The History Of Hazelnut Production In Oregon

The history of hazelnut production in Oregon dates back to the mid-1800s when European settlers brought cultivated hazelnut varieties to the western United States. In 1858, Sam Strickland, an English sailor who retired from the Hudson’s Bay Company, planted the first hazelnut tree in the Pacific Northwest in Scottsburg, Oregon. It is believed that these first hazelnut trees planted in Scottsburg came from one of the Luelling nurseries near present-day Albany, Oregon.

Pioneer nurserymen Henderson Luelling and Felix Gillet played significant roles in the development of hazelnut production in Oregon. Luelling imported the Cobb nut from England and the Red Avelline from Hapsburg, Austria, which were his first offerings in early nursery catalogs. Gillet introduced cultivated hazelnut varieties in 1871 and started the Barren Hill Nursery, where he sold unusual varieties of fruits and nuts up and down the West Coast. Between 1885 and 1905, he imported the Barcelona variety from his native France, which is now the most prominent variety grown in Oregon.

George Dorris, an orchardist and nurseryman from Springfield, Oregon, planted 50 Barcelona trees in 1903 and followed that with the first commercial-size planting of 5 acres of Barcelona trees at the Dorris Ranch near Springfield. Dorris also started a hazelnut nursery on his property that operated for 40 years and produced an average of 70,000 trees per year. It is estimated that more than half of the trees in today’s Oregon hazelnut industry have origins in Dorris Ranch nursery stock.

Today, there are around 35,000 acres of commercial hazelnuts in Oregon, with about 1,000 farm families growing hazelnuts on 87,000 acres. The total value growers received for their hazelnut crop has averaged nearly $70 million during the last five years, translating into a total economic impact of more than $150 million in Oregon. Hazelnut trees can produce until over 100 years of age, and they bloom and pollinate in the middle of winter, with wind carrying the pollen from yellow catkins to a tiny red flower, where it stays dormant until June when the nut begins to form. The nuts mature during the summer months, turning from green to shades of hazel nestled in a protective husk, and are harvested in late September or October after they have fallen to the ground.

The Different Varieties Of Hazelnuts Grown In Oregon

Apart from the Barcelona, there are several other varieties of hazelnuts grown in Oregon. One such variety is Ennis, which is known for its large size and high yield. It has a round shape with a smooth surface and a sweet flavor. The Ennis variety is also resistant to Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB), making it a popular choice among farmers.

Another variety commonly grown in Oregon is Clark, which has a slightly elongated shape and a sweet, nutty flavor. It is also resistant to EFB and is often used as a pollinator for other varieties.

Jefferson is another popular variety, known for its large size and high yield. It has a slightly elongated shape with a smooth surface and a sweet flavor. This variety is also resistant to EFB and is often used as a pollinator.

Dorris is a newer variety that was developed by Oregon State University’s hazelnut breeding program. It has a round shape with a slightly rough surface and a sweet, nutty flavor. This variety is resistant to EFB and has good annual production.

Lewis is another newer variety that was developed by Oregon State University. It has a round shape with a slightly rough surface and a sweet, nutty flavor. This variety is also resistant to EFB and has good annual production.

Wepster is a unique variety that has a long, pointed shape with a slightly rough surface and a sweet, nutty flavor. This variety is resistant to EFB and is often used as a pollinator for other varieties.

In addition to these varieties, there are several others that are grown in smaller quantities in Oregon, including Tonda di Giffoni, Tonda Romana, Gem, Hall’s Giant, J-5, Negret, and Casina.

The Harvesting And Processing Of Hazelnuts In Oregon

Hazelnuts are typically harvested in the fall, between late August and late October, when the nuts start to fall from the trees. Many commercial growers in Oregon wait for the nuts to drop on their own rather than using equipment to shake them from the tree. However, some growers may use a shaker to encourage the nuts to fall.

Once the nuts have fallen on the orchard floor, farmers use a sweeper to gather them into uniform rows. A harvester then drives down the rows and picks up the nuts, separating them from sticks and other debris. The hazelnuts are then sorted and taken to a truck for transport to a processor.

At the processing facility, hazelnuts may undergo various treatments such as drying, cleaning, shelling, and roasting. Oregon hazelnuts are known for their high quality and are recognized for their inshell quality, large size, rich flavor, and freshness. They are available all year round and can be purchased shelled or unshelled, roasted, salted or sweetened.

The harvesting of hazelnuts in Oregon is performed by mechanical raking of fallen nuts. The process is made easier with specialized equipment designed for use in hazelnut orchards. These machines are fitted with automatic cleaning devices and gathering brushes that work effectively on uneven terrain. They also have side fans that can be used for blowing fruit between rows.

Oregon’s moderate climate and rich volcanic soils make it an ideal location for growing high-quality hazelnuts. With over 800 multi-generational family farms located throughout the Willamette Valley, hazelnut production is a thriving industry in Oregon. Currently, more than 3,000 acres of new trees are planted each year, with roughly 45,000 acres currently in production.

The Economic Impact Of Hazelnuts On Oregon’s Agriculture Industry

The hazelnut industry has a significant impact on Oregon’s agricultural economy. Over the last five years, growers have received an average of nearly $70 million for their hazelnut crop, resulting in a total economic impact of more than $150 million in the state. Hazelnut farming provides a significant source of income for many farmers in Oregon and is an essential part of the state’s agricultural industry.

The hazelnut industry is rapidly expanding, with 70,000 acres of Willamette Valley farmland currently planted with hazelnut trees. Farmers are expected to plant an additional 8,000 acres each year, and by 2025, the yield is projected to reach 90,000 tons annually. The expansion is largely due to the development of hazelnut varieties resistant to Eastern Filbert Blight, which has been responsible for devastating older orchards.

Oregon’s hazelnut industry is also significant on a national level. The state grows 100% of the hazelnuts produced in the United States, making it a dominant force in the industry. In fact, Oregon is second only to Italy and Turkey in terms of global hazelnut production.

In 2020 alone, Oregon’s hazelnut crop was worth $132 million and was the 10th most valuable agricultural commodity in the state that year. This highlights the importance of hazelnuts as a source of income for farmers and as a contributor to Oregon’s economy.

The Culinary Uses Of Hazelnuts In Oregon’s Cuisine

Hazelnuts are a staple in Oregon’s cuisine, and their unique flavor and texture make them a popular ingredient in a variety of dishes. From sweet to savory, hazelnuts can be used in many different ways in the kitchen.

One of the most popular uses for hazelnuts in Oregon is in the production of chocolate. Hazelnuts are often used to make chocolate-covered treats, as well as being incorporated into chocolate-based desserts such as cakes, brownies, and truffles.

Hazelnuts are also commonly used in savory dishes. They can be roasted and added to salads for a crunchy texture, or ground into a paste to make sauces for meat dishes. Hazelnut oil is another popular ingredient in cooking, often used as a finishing oil for salads or pasta dishes.

In addition to their culinary uses, hazelnuts are also a popular snack in Oregon. Roasted hazelnuts can be found at many farmers’ markets and roadside stands throughout the state. They are also a common ingredient in trail mix and granola bars.

Hazelnut Festivals And Events In Oregon

Oregon is home to a variety of hazelnut festivals and events throughout the year. These events celebrate the state’s rich hazelnut industry and provide visitors with the opportunity to sample and purchase locally grown hazelnuts and hazelnut products.

One of the most popular hazelnut festivals in Oregon is the annual Donald Hazelnut Festival. This festival features a parade, car show, live entertainment, and dozens of vendor booths selling hazelnut products. Visitors can also enjoy live music performances by local artists and participate in raffles with the chance to win prizes such as a two-night stay at Bear Lodge at Neskowin Creek or a $1,000 gift card to Rich’s Gun Shop.

Another popular event is the Mount Angel Hazelnut Festival & German Holiday Market, which received the Ovation award for “Best New Festival” by the Oregon Festival & Events Association. This festival features over 30 arts and crafts booths, food booths, refreshments, and entertainment, with many vendors offering hazelnut products. The German Holiday Market includes authentic and traditional German Christmas decorations and crafts.

Other notable hazelnut festivals in Oregon include the Sublimity Harvest Festival Hazelnut Fun Run/Walk, which features a 5K run/walk through a scenic hazelnut orchard, and the Aurora Colony Days Hazelnut Festival, which celebrates Aurora’s rich history as a center for hazelnut production.

Visitors to these festivals can learn about the history of Oregon’s hazelnut industry, meet local growers and producers, and taste a variety of delicious hazelnut-based foods and beverages. With so many festivals to choose from, there is sure to be an event that appeals to everyone’s interests.

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