Hazelnuts, also known as filberts, are unusual because they can be grown as shrubs, hedgerows, or trees. Ideally sized for home growers, they are generally hardy. However, very early blooming renders them very susceptible to late frosts. In the Northwest, they never go fully dormant.
Filberts tend to bear in alternate years, depending on how much new wood was produced and how much was pruned out the prior year. In areas that are subject to temperatures of 5°F or lower, they do not produce nuts consistently. In the first 2 years, protect young tree trunks from sunscald. Filberts produce numerous suckers that are easily used for propagation and good for coppice management. Delicious in baked goods, filberts are also high vitamin and protein snacks.
Nuts usually turn brown and ripen by late summer, but an immature husk, shaped like a barely opened daffodil blossom, prevents them from dropping for almost another month. The nut is ripe when it readily turns in the husk if pressed. When ripe, you can either hand-harvest the husks or wait until nuts drop to the ground.
Place hulled nuts in water; remove rotten and diseased nuts that float to the top. Dry and cure in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area by spreading them in a single layer. They are ready for storage when the kernels rattle in the shell, or, when unshelled, the nutmeat snaps when bent.
Avoid pig piles of nuts, which encourages rot. Fresh shelled hazelnuts can be stored in a dry place (at 65° – 70°F) for several weeks; unshelled at 34° – 40°F for several months; frozen shelled for 12+ months.
Blue jay, filbert bud mite, filbertworm, filbert weevil, squirrel
Crown gall, Eastern filbert blight, filbert bacterial blight, powdery mildew
- 15 – 20 ft. for trees
- 3 – 5 ft. for hedges
Unlike other nut trees, this has no taproot.
2 – 4 years
All need cross-pollination.
Full sun in maritime climates; partial shade in very sunny, hot climates. In the east, choose a northern, cold exposure to delay premature bloom. Can adapt to clay and sand, but prefers deep, fertile, well-drained soil. Must avoid low frost pockets or poorly drained areas.
Medium; water well in times of bad drought. In maritime climates, like the Northwest, mature trees rarely need watering. Sawdust mulch helps keep moisture in the soil.
Heavy feeder, but do not fertilize unless foliage is pale and growth is slow. Appropriate new growth is 6 – 9 inches.
Apply compost late autumn and organic mulch in spring.
Free-standing tree: open center.
To grow a shrub, cut excessive sucker growth yearly. For a tree, prune to establish a central leader and basic scaffold, and remove all suckers. Nuts develop on 1-year-old wood, so prune lightly every year to stimulate new growth. Make thinning-out cuts only where branches are cut back to their base, not in half or stubbed off.