Farmers here in the valley know this well. For those just driving around, you have most likely noticed, that hazelnuts are getting planted everywhere in the valley.
Hazelnuts have had a long history in the valley, dotted here and there, breaking up the monotony of grass fields and the occasional row crop. In the past decade with industry fluctuations, and innovation on how this nut can be used; the market has expanded.
More and more old orchards have been replaced and thousands of acres have been converted from a different crop into hazelnuts.
Most new plantings are installed in a double-density pattern. This means that ultimately there are twice as many trees per acre as the mature orchard will have. This is done so that production will be higher earlier in life. The orchard pictured below was put in at 10’x20′ spacing with the goal of a 20’x20′ mature orchard.
We first started working in and around this crop in the renewal process; removing old orchards that were stricken with blight, so that a new resistant variety could be planted. We have renewed hundreds of acres now.
In addition to full removal and land clearing for new orchards, we thin more and more acres every year. Every client is different in what they want for a final product. Some clients want the tree shredded extremely fine to be ready for harvest, while some just want it coarse so they can continue flailing on their own time. The end particle is generally directly correlated to the energy put into it along with other factors. Some clients just want the stump flush with the ground, some want most all the roots completely ground out, and some just want the center of the stump removed.
Wider spacing and square patterns let us fit in larger equipment to be more efficient. We have found that modifications and custom equipment are necessary to get the perfect result; at the right price point.
Overall it is a highly variable process and we treat every orchard and client as an individual; to get the result they are looking for. We love working with these farmers. They are understanding and team oriented. They have the attitude of “a rising tide lifts all boats” and “let’s all pull in the same direction”. I admire their resilience through uncontrollable markets and weather.