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
Animal welfare bill defeated
Ag council recognizes civic support for farming
Urban farm seeks stable footing
This could be final harvest for Site C dam opponents
Kelowna cracks down on ALR abuse
Water workshop for farmers
Agri-food bankruptcies on low side
New roles at ministry
Early snow downgrades Peace harvest
$2.5 invested in Peace flood
BC farms stay focused on safety
Ranchers square off against wood rustlers
New hires to investigate ALR complaints
Opportunity as Western feelot closes
Forage trial in Central Interior
Good planning essential
Genomics will help build a better beef herd
Mobile juicer initiative inspires community outreach
K&M has different approach
Fruit growers offered incentive for safety training
Honey producers urged to stand up
Honey prices spiral down
Making a case for biosolids
Saving rural areas from sludge
Biosolids: Are they safe?
Money for composting
Serotinin for milk fever
Preparing for next year’s weeds
Vineyard owners are creative
Abattoir cashing in
Room for expansion – hops