This time of year it sure feels like we spend a whole lot of time out in our hazelnut orchards! Last week during all the freezing weather, while we were flailing, we were also knocking trees over. Which may seem strange, but it was time!
Filbert or hazelnut trees need a certain amount of room to grow. The sun needs to get down into the branches and those branches need to have room to stretch out in order for them to produce to their highest potential. Our trees have been in a constant cycle of removal for about the past 8 years. We have done it in cycles mostly because of the windows of opportunities that you get, when we have the labor, and also when we have the time to get this job accomplished.
Well last week we took out the last trees that needed to be removed, and I can thankfully say, while this job isn’t over yet, it’s well on it’s way. I’ll say here that one of the hardest things about tree removal is all mental. When the prices are good for nuts you want to leave the trees in, knowing that for the first few years you will have a dramatic decrease in yield until the trees that remain can catch back up. So more nuts, is more money. But then when the prices are down you think, “Shoot I can’t take the trees out this year, we need all the nuts we can get because the price is so low.” You see what I mean…it’s a battle. So this year while harvesting we noticed that the yields were dropping in the areas we hadn’t thinned, the trees needed the room, it was time (no matter what the price!).
Here is a video of how the thinning was done. We planted originally on a square grid of 18′ by 18′. Then we thinned, or pushed over the trees on a diagonal. Leaving a diamond pattern of 18′ by 36′. This will give room for the tree branches to stretch, and the sun to get into the canopy.
Meanwhile we are also out pruning suckers that grow from the base of the tree, and pruning out blight. Basically from the day we finish harvest in the fall until spring, there isn’t a day that we don’t have someone working out in those trees.
Next step will be pulling those trees out of the orchard, which is another blog post in itself. And hopefully not a too muddy of one. Who knows, maybe more freezing weather will help us get that job done with little mess too!