Developing Hazelnut Germplasm for the Upper Midwest

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2010: $175,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Lois Braun
Research Associate

Annual Reports


  • Nuts: hazelnuts


  • Crop Production: windbreaks
  • Energy: bioenergy and biofuels
  • Natural Resources/Environment: afforestation, biodiversity, hedgerows, riparian buffers, hedges - woody
  • Production Systems: permaculture

    Proposal abstract:

    The goal of this project is to develop a viable bush-type hazelnut industry in the Upper Midwest, based on either native Corylus americana or hybrids between C. americana and the European hazelnut, C. avellana, for the purpose of diversifying agriculture to enhance ecological and economic sustainability. Bush-type hazelnuts can provide income from land that would otherwise be unsuitable for agriculture. With a market consisting of healthful nuts for fresh eating and processed foods, oil for cooking or biofuel, and woody biomass for energy, hazelnut economic potential is excellent, even before considering the ecosystem services they provide. Woody perennials such as bush-type hazelnuts can provide the essential ecosystem services of cycling nutrients, conserving soil, building soil fertility, storing carbon, protecting water quality, and providing wildlife habitat, especially when grown in integrated management systems.

    The primary obstacle to a viable hazelnut industry in the Upper Midwest is the lack of consistent high quality adapted germplasm, because thus far they have been seed-propagated. Our objectives are to:

    1) develop a germplasm improvement program for the region,
    2) develop viable methods of vegetative propagation,
    3) develop best management practices for growing bush-type hazelnuts, and
    4) increase grower knowledge about bush-type hazelnut production.

    The potential of this multifunctional new crop to address multiple economic and environmental problems is great, but the efforts described in this proposal are needed to turn this potential into reality. We have assembled a multi-disciplinary team to accomplish this goal.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Plant material
    --Four germplasm performance trials expanded to at least 100 plant accessions in each.
    --Multiplication of clones with the genetic uniformity needed for future agronomic trials on N fertilization and plant spacing.
    2. New knowledge on the following, with bulletins on each posted on the hazelnut website:
    --Commercially viable methods of hazelnut propagation.
    --Management of clonally-propagated planting stock.
    --Pre-plant ground preparation and early establishment weed control.
    3. New knowledge shared with growers and other researchers via:
    --The Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative website.
    --Six summer field days attended by at least 20 people each.
    --Six presentations at workshops attended by at least 20 people.
    --One Upper Midwest Conference in the winter of 2012 attended by at least 30 people.
    --At least one professional publication.
    4. A second and third Upper Midwest hazelnut survey of growers.

    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.