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
ALR committee files report
Cannabis drives drop in Delta farm assessments
Editorial: Party and province
Back Forty: You can’t get apps on that
Viewpoint: Annual assessments a chance to take stock
Preliminary hearing in high-profile poultry abuse
Survey keeps national park reserve in spotlight
Political engagement headlines dairy meeting
World milk prices take blame for shifting returns
Patience is a virtue
Ag Briefs: Sasaki appointed new head of chicken board
Ag Briefs: Ottawa invests in dairy sector
AB: Piece rates, taxes increase
AB: AITC focuses on growth
Letters: Protect farmland from cannabis production
Letters: Dog owners need to accept responsibility
Letters: The beef about climate change
Cadillac’ of aviaries will reduce labour costs
Berry growers face new import requirements
Open house reveals secrets of diagnostics lab
Cannabis propagation industry sprouting in BC
Sidebar: Deep roots
FCC targets women with new business program
Agreement sets stage for fish farm phase-out
Grazing, forage and water top list at town hall
Ranchers reassured regarding bovine TB cases
Digging into soil nutrition at education day
Science of cannabis takes centre stage
Blueberry growers hone use of box liners
Ostrich industry takes flight with big plans
Tunnels boost fruit quality, add to berry season
Big bucks being spent to protect bee health
Sidebar: Province boosts funding
Mystery bee disease studied
Direct-marketing opportunities have potential
Research: Preventing soft scald in apples
Regional food system is the new focus of group’s efforts
Wannabe: Growers deserve our love
Woodshed: A performance Kenneth can’t afford to miss
Jude’s Kitchen: Happy new year, my sweet Valentine