Hazelnut Windbreak Adds Diversity

Project Overview

FNC93-034
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 1993: $4,125.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1998
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $6,250.00
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:

Commodities

  • Fruits: berries (other)
  • Nuts: hazelnuts

Practices

  • Crop Production: agroforestry, forestry
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development

    Summary:

    PROJECT BACKGROUND
    Our farm operates a dairy and crop farm in Southern Minnesota. We farm 750 acres of peas, sweet corn, corn, soybeans, and alfalfa. Our dairy includes 95 milk cows and about 200 young stock. We also have about 16 milking goats as a family project. Since about 5 years we have been experimenting with rotational grazing for our young stock and pasturing our milk cows. Since 12 years we have used sustainable practices in manure management, so that we could eliminate the use of commercial fertilizer.

    Dan Arnlt, Soil and Water Conservation Office, evaluated the stand, seen that most trees died and felt he did not have the expertise to be of further assistance. Eric Roneber, Forest Resource Center, helped us to get the trees, helped with the first planting, evaluated the stand, seen that most trees died – end of assistance. Eric initially approached us to do this project. He said he would write the annual reports and the 5 year summary.

    PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESUTLS
    The idea was to see if we could produce hazelnuts for wildlife and for sale at a roadside stand. It was supposed to take three years for the first nuts to be produced and the trees were supposed to be full grown by that time. After the first year, 90% of the plants were dead. We contacted Badgersett Farms about plants for a second planting. 80% of these trees also died. We then planted a nut and berry wildlife shelter on this living snow fence during the third year.

    It is now 5 years and the hazelnut trees that survived are between 1 and 2 feet tall, no nuts, and doing poorly over a range of soils that go from heavy clay to sand clay, from high pH to low pH, with no difference noted in health or survival.
    1) We used woven plastic for a weed barrier
    2) We dug the plants in by had (we did the same for the wildlife shelter, the survival was excellent and they are growing well)
    3) We did living wind barriers on some and some mowed clean. No difference in growth or survival.
    4) We dug up plants that were still alive after 3 years that had not sent roots out. When the plants began sending roots out at 3 to 4 years, they began growing.

    In summary, it seems that the barrier to raising hazelnuts was that they would not root in our soils. Nobody seemed to know what was causing this problem. The developer also did not know why these trees were not surviving in our area, and as there was some misunderstanding between us as to who should pay for the second set of trees, there was no further work done to determine if there were varieties that would grow in our climate and soil conditions.

    My recommendations to my neighbors or people that ask me about growing them, was that they should not grow them, as I have yet to see one hazelnut.

    Results achieved:

    – 15% total survival
    – Growth : 2 feet
    – Nuts: zero

    What did we learn:
    – we learned that these trees were not develop for this area
    – we learned that this causes a lot of work and headaches
    – we learned to tell other producers not to grow these trees without a money back guarantee
    – the impacts economic, environmental, and social would be negative

    OUTREACH
    – one on one communication
    – there were no events or activities, as most of the trees were dead
    – there was an article in the local newspaper at the beginning of planting

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.