Replacing Older Hazelnut Trees

We decided to knock down a block of our orchards where some of our oldest hazelnut (aka filbert) trees were. We removed these Barcelona hazelnut trees last year and then planted the new variety last week.

We probably could have chosen a drier day, there was a lot of mud, but in Oregon we know how to work in the mud.

We planted a newer variety from Oregon State University called Polly Os. First the trees were planted and then we added a bamboo stake next to it. The bamboo, once tied to the trunk, gives the tree more strength against the wind and gives birds a place to land (if they land on the new tree it can break off the top).

All we have left to do now is add some mulch around the base of the tree to conserve moisture and add tree protector to provide protection from sunburn and chemical burn.

While it wasn’t an easy decision to take out trees that have been there since 1990, it also was equally not as fun to keep heavily spraying and pruning for the Eastern filbert blight that we continually battled. At some point we had to make a decision, and I’m glad we made it before our costs outweighed our yields.

Baby Grass Seed Scouting

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in the Willamette Valley! And when you get beautiful days in November it’s usually the best time to go and look to see how the fields are doing.

We have planted a number of perennial ryegrass seed acres this fall, referred to often as “baby fields”. And as my husband Matt likes to say, “Baby perennial ryegrass is always looking for a way to die!” What he means is that when perennial ryegrass is just starting out it makes for a delicious meal for both slugs and geese, and when they attack they can decimate acres and acres in just a few days. So we often go out to make sure as it’s coming up that it’s being protected as best we can.

To tell you the truth as we headed out across the field it didn’t look very good. It just looked like a lot of open soil with no sprout. Which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to get a field to grow.

But we didn’t let it worry us too much. This field wasn’t planted too long ago and we knew that it should just be starting to sprout. So with a closer inspection, this field is actually doing quite well as it just starts to come out of the ground.

That’s what we call the start of being able to “row up” a grass seed planting. And the good news is that while we found a few slugs, the bait that we put out a week ago is still protecting the grass as it sprouts. And as far as geese it didn’t look like they had found it yet, so we will continue to scout for them as they fly over and more than likely also start to spot the rows of tasty grass.

We also saw a lot of worm castings which is a sign of good soil health. You can see in this photo all the small dry bits of soil, that is all from worm activity.

These fields will need to be protected through the winter from the slugs, geese, and kept clean from weeds that will inevitably sprout through the dormant and growing season. Before harvest next July we will be out scouting our acres every few weeks, if not everyday depending on the conditions in the fields. Today was a beautiful day to get this done, I’m sure my rain coat and muck boot wearing days aren’t far away though…this is Oregon after all!

It’s Nut Harvest Time!!

In the times of a pandemic, wildfires, flash floods and distance learning, we are also starting our final harvest of 2020. It is finally time to harvest hazelnuts at Kirsch Family Farms!

The filberts fall naturally from the trees when they are ready to be harvested. This year “naturally” meant they fell due to 50 mile an hour winds during a crazy storm we had a few weeks ago. Which brought wildfires and us being thankful our trees didn’t get burned to the ground.

Which led us to last week when we were thankful that the flash flood that came through skirted mostly to the west of us and didn’t float the nuts down into the drainage ditch. Meanwhile we are thankful that our harvester driver, (ahem…me) is super unreliable due to navigating pick ups and drop offs from 75 different places for my three children with this new “learning” that we’re currently doing because of the pandemic. Hoot our oldest son summed up life very well in this photo which is so far my favorite…I hear ya buddy…right there with ya!!

All dramatics aside, so far this year is looking good for our hazelnuts and we do actually have a ton to be thankful for. As for the rest of it, well…like many of you, we are ready for this year to be over!