The hazelnut, also known as a Filbert, is a tree native to North America. It grows from Maine to Oregon. Hazelnut trees produce an edible nut about four years after the initial planting. A single hazelnut tree will produce about four to six quarts of nuts in a year.
With a lifespan averaging 20 years, this tree usually grows to a height of 8 feet but may reach as high as 15 feet. The hazelnut has a spread of 5 to 10 feet.
Planting Hazelnut Trees
Hazelnut trees prefer a neutral-acidic (pH 6.0-7.0) sandy loam soil. It is important to compost the soil when planting a hazelnut tree. This tree is shallow-rooted; composting ensures that the tree will receive adequate moisture. It also provides extra nutrients to the young tree.
After planting the tree, it helps to finish off with a layer of mulch to repel weeds and keep the sapling moist. A recently planted sapling needs frequent watering to establish a good root system. Once established, rainwater should provide adequate moisture.
Hazelnuts are a hardy tree and can tolerate cold, except during flowering. The flowers, which open very early in the spring, are sensitive to cold and wind. To prevent damage to the fragile flowers, plant your hazelnut in an area protected from the wind.
After initial planting, it is important to use a good 10-10-10 fertilizer. After new growth is established, you can fertilize yearly.
Caring for Hazelnuts
Hazelnuts are hardy, but some varieties are susceptible to blight. The most common blight is Eastern Filbert Disease or Eastern Filbert Blight. Eastern Filbert Blight is a fungus disease, which invades the twigs and eventually kills the plant. It can be prevented with Eastern Filbert Blight spray and pruning.
Another problem hazelnuts face is Bud Mites. Bud Mites feed inside the bud and destroy the shoots and flowers. Sprays will control Bud Mites.
Pruning hazelnuts of the large number of suckers that shoot off the plant prevents the tree from growing into a thicket. The suckers grow up from underground and can grow quite quickly. The best time to prune is during winter, when trees are dormant. For a bushier hazelnut tree, five or six stems should be left on the tree and the rest removed. If a sparser, classical tree look is wanted, remove suckers as soon as they appear.
After a few years of growth, pruning will only be needed for maintenance to remove dead or broken branches. As the tree matures, you can thin the top to allow more sunlight to reach the lower branches.
You can grow a thicket or hedge with hazelnuts. This look is achieved by using a layered variety of hazelnut. This variety grows on its own roots, so the suckers fill in to produce a thick hedge.
Sometimes gardeners plant things knowing that there will not be instant gratification but a big payoff in the future. So it is with planting pecans and hickories. You may have to wait, but both pecans and hickories produce delicious nuts that have many proven health benefits.
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