Commercialization of Hazelnuts for Growers in the Upper Midwest

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2015: $198,569.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2018
Grant Recipient: University of Wisconsin
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Jason Fischbach
UW-Madison, Division of Extension

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Nuts: hazelnuts


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, alley cropping, crop improvement and selection, food product quality/safety, plant breeding and genetics, windbreaks
  • Education and Training: extension, participatory research

    Proposal abstract:

    A 2010 SARE-funded project (LNC10-328) enabled our research team to establish five germplasm performancetrials with hybrid hazelnut plants identified through the Hazelnut Improvement Program. Currently, the trialsinclude clones of 179 top-performing plants identified in on-farm plantings in the Upper Midwest region, with 14growers contributing their best material, to date. The oldest of the plants in these trials have now been producingnuts for three years, and superior genotypes are emerging. The next step in this plant development process is onfarmevaluation of the best genotypes. We propose to use micropropagation to clone four of the top genotypes foron-farm evaluation at ten farms in the Upper Midwest. These trials will enable growers to gain agronomicexperience with the plant material and researchers to conduct more highly replicated agronomic trials, possiblyleading to cultivar release.In addition, in cooperation with the American Hazelnut Company, LLC - a grower-owned processing andmarketing company - we propose to further advance commercialization of Midwest-grown hazelnuts throughdevelopment of best management practices for post-¬harvest handling of the hazelnuts and characterization ofthe compounds that impact the flavor attributes of the candidate hazelnut germplasm. Such work will ensureproduct quality, explore market potential for by-products, and enable differentiation of hazelnut products in themarketplace.The Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative has worked since 2007 for an orderly and science-basedapproach to developing the hazelnut industry in the Upper Midwest. This project continues that approach and isonly possible thanks to the enormous investment of time and money by early-adopter growers working to develophazelnuts as a multi-use perennial crop. The germplasm trials were established as a service to the growers andthis project ensures the efforts and investment by the growers is not wasted. Hazelnuts have potential as aspecialty crop, but more significantly as a perennial oilseed crop hazelnuts have potential to replace a significantacreage of annual crops, and when deployed as part of agroforestry systems, they can deliver significantconservation value. Growers and SARE have worked tirelessly for many years to deliver improved agriculturalecosystems and this project helps realize that goal through development of a perennial oilseed crop.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Previous SARE funding established replicated performance trials of superior hazelnut germplasm provided by
    early-adopter growers. This project will continue the collaborative cultivar ¬development work through
    establishment of on-farm plantings of the best genotypes identified in the performance trials, and will develop
    optimal post-harvest handling practices to optimize processing efficiency and product quality. Chemical analysis
    of the hazelnut kernel and by-products will improve our understanding of hazelnut flavor and potential economic
    value of hazelnut by-products.
    1.    Growers and researchers will gain agronomic experience growing select hazelnut genotypes through on-farm
    trials. Nurseries will gain the knowledge needed to propagate hybrid hazelnuts through micro-propagation.
    2.    Growers will gain information related to post-harvest handling of hazelnuts for optimizing whole kernel recovery
    and quality.
    3.    Growers and researchers will better understand the flavor components of candidate hazelnut germplasm to
    facilitate market differentiation and optimization of post-harvest handling.
    4.    Growers and researchers will gain knowledge of phenolic content and other biochemical uses of hazelnut byproducts,
    possibly leading to economic benefits from sale of by-products.

    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.