Tuesday, May 27, 2014


My brother Phil loves filberts.  Go figure.

At one time we had about 20 bushes on my dad's property.  All but two succumbed to the Eastern Filbert Blight.  One has symptoms and is barely hanging on.  The other is growing well after the variety that was grafted on top perished.  Phil remembered the day when he could fill a bucket by stripping the nuts from two bushes.  He asked me what it would take to bring back the filberts. This essay is my answer to Phil.

Roger Miller of Eaton Rapids, Michigan is very sour on filberts.  At one time he had 165 very productive bushes.  He is down to six.  Once again, devastated by the Eastern Filbert Blight. In the case of Roger's planting, he now has the nucleus of a planting from parents of proven, EFB resistant parents.  It is hard to tell if he has the stomach to start over.  But he has the parents....if he does.

This paper is a good overview of the current state of hazelnuts for the Eastern United States.

The National Arbor Day foundation is a member of the Hazelnut Consortium.  They offer hybrid hazelnuts in both small quantities and in bulk quantities.  After shopping around, NADF has pretty good prices.

They are a bit coy in stating the provenance of their mother trees, but do say that they originally came from Minnesota.  Minnesota is where Phil Rutter is breeding and selecting filberts.  So it is a reasonable guess that much of the National Arbor Day foundation stock came from Badgersett.

Hazelnuts or filberts are one more food producing plant that is available to us.  Unlike the oak, which is typically a tall tree, or the chestnut, which tends to be an orchard type tree, the hazelnut is either a short tree or a multistem bush.  In permaculture type plantings, it wants to be an edge species or a tuck-in-a-corner species.

Please be mindful that if you are not planting proven clones then you are using mass selection.  Plant them thick and cull them ruthlessly.  If you are a "proven clone" kind of guy, then Burnt Ridge seems to have a pretty good selection and competitive prices.

Some of us like to keep one foot on the dock even as we plant the other in the canoe.  We buy a boat load of seedlings (as lottery tickets) and one or two proven varieties (as insurance policies).  I confess to being in this population. 

Nurseries that are mentioned are mentioned for comparison purposes only.

Good growing to you all.

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