by David Schmidt
CHILLIWACK – The BC hazelnut industry has bottomed out, BC Hazelnut Growers’ Association director Thom O’Dell told a large group of current and potential new growers at the hazelnut field day at Helmut Hooge’s farm in Chilliwack in September.
Once flourishing in the Fraser Valley, hazelnut growers started falling on hard times when Eastern Filbert Blight invaded just over a decade ago. Since then, many long-
Seeing the writing on the wall, five (now four) Fraser Valley growers and one on Hornby Island worked with O’Dell to bring in six new EFB-
Hooge is one of the participants in the trial and now has 230 Yamhill, 200 Jefferson and 70 Sacajawea trees as well as a few Eta, Theta and Gamma pollinators in his orchard.
“Every fourth tree in every third row is a pollinator,” Hooge said.
He stressed the trees are “resistant” but not immune to the disease, saying pruning can keep the disease at bay, if not eliminate it altogether.
“We started seeing some EFB in the new trees in 2013,” O’Dell reported, telling growers to apply an approved fungicide on young trees after bud break and prune out and burn any affected limbs.
Hooge has followed that strategy and his new trees show few signs of EFB despite being located right next to his heavily infected Barcelona orchard.
Both he and O’Dell say they have already learned a lot about managing the new varieties, including how and when to plant them. That was obvious in Hooge’s orchard as the 2013 plantings appear to be more vigorous and productive than the 2011 plantings, despite being two years younger.
Although this has been a good year for production, growers wrestled with what to do with their nuts. Because so many of the infected orchards have been uprooted, there were not enough nuts for John Vandenbrink, who has the only remaining commercial-
In the meantime, O’Dell and the other BCHGA directors are doing all they can to interest new growers.
“We received an agriculture enhancement grant from the Abbotsford Foundation and are partnering with the University of the Fraser Valley and a farm in Abbotsford to make the general public more aware of hazelnuts,” BCHGA president Neal Tebrinke said.
O’Dell said hazelnuts are ideal for small acreages, claiming “you can get enough nuts from two acres to get your farm status.”
Denise Parker of MNP concurred, saying hazelnuts could “help fund a farming lifestyle” and preserve farm status for capital gains exemption. She presented an enterprise budget prepared in July 2015 which suggests that even though growers can expect losses in the first three years, that will level out as the orchard comes into production. By year 20, growers will have generated a total gross margin of $40,000 per acre based on current prices.
O’Dell believes prices will only improve, noting there is a “growing (worldwide) demand for all nuts.”
There may even be an option for potential new growers who are interested in hazelnuts but may not have the time or expertise to plant and/or manage the orchard.
James and Anthony Dick, who have years of experience growing cedar hedging, are planting five acres of hazelnuts on their own property this fall and will then offer that service to other growers.
“We have the equipment to prep and plant an orchard and will purchase harvesting equipment to offer custom work services on a per hour basis,” they said.
Vol. 102 Issue 11
STORIES IN THIS EDITION
One province, one panel
Groundwater deadline extended
Happy as a pig!
Sidebar: Still waiting
Feds pour millions into tree fruit research
Sidebar: Will local procurement help?>
Editorial: Confined spaces
Back Forty: BC farmers need more than a land bank
Island Good campaign drives local sales
Poultry industry seeks to stop infighting
Egg farmers to receive biggest quota boost ever
New entrant focus
Decision day looms for chicken pricing appeal
Producers look to CanadaGAP for certification
Organic sector undertakes core review
Hopping to it!
Island couple named Outstanding Young Farmers
Turkey consumption continues to decline
BC potato growers enjoy a strong footing
Sudden tree fruit dieback a growing concern
Late season BC cherries in global demand
Farmers’ markets aim to be local food hubs
Field trial hopes to reduce phosphorus levels
Future looking bright for BC dairy producers
BC could benefit from US trade battles
Saputo puts its Courtenay plant out to pasture
The land of milk and salmon
Sidebar: Farming for the future
Out of the hands of BC farmers
Codes of practice need producer input
Preparation essential for wildfire response
Sidebar: Relief announced for drought, fire
Sidebar: Be FireSmart with these tips
New traceability regs to track movement
Agriculture a notable threat to species at risk
Improper pesticide use threatens access
Threat to neonics spurs scare in spud growers
Orchard presses forward with diversification
Staying on top of soil health is key to sound farming
No small potatoes
Farm families need to have affairs in order
Rotary parlours go upscale at two FV dairies
Study compares organic, conventional diets
Advisory service foresees growing demand
Sidebar: Tree fruit cutbacks a concern
Island dairy producers hone first aid skills
Woodshed: And that’s how rumours get their teeth
Research farm showcases small projects
Jude’s Kitchen: Shooting stars of spring