If you live in Oregon you have been seeing a major change in the landscape of the fields throughout the I-5 corridor. Thousand and thousands of little hazelnut trees have been planted the past 10 or so years. And here at Kirsch Family Farms, the landscape is also changing.
We have older hazelnut orchards of Barcelonas, planted in 1990. We also have some newer varieties, mainly Jeffersons. And this year we put in a third variety called Wepsters. The reasons for our plantings and even the delay in plantings until more recent years has a lot to do with disease management and pressure, and a lot of great work done by Oregon State University to help us with those issues. But it also has to do with timing of harvest, early or late fall can mean the difference between a dusty (preferred) harvest and a muddy mess of harvest. And also how much land we want to take out of production for a number of years, to then leave in a permanent or basically permanent cropping system.
What you are seeing here are the newly planted trees. Too small to really see the tree itself. It is surrounded by a protective tube to keep it safe from the sun, and has a bamboo post next to it to give it more strength.
This year we planted the Wepsters right behind our house on a small field that was soon to be, I guess you could say “tree locked.” Meaning with all the orchards being planted around it, there wasn’t going to be much room for getting larger equipment needed for grass seed or grain production. Case in point, our combine header was rubbing tree branches as it made its way back harvest the wheat.
So we decided it was time to plant a few more trees. We had a neighbor come and mark out the rows using GPS. Then at the cross-hairs we planted a tree. Most of the trees were Wepsters (the main variety), with a mix of pollenizer trees as well. (Hazelnuts can’t pollenize themselves so you plant pollenizer trees throughout the orchard).
These newly planted trees should start to produce nuts in about 4 years, and we hope they will produce nuts for another 4 generations! Farming is an industry that is always changing and evolving, and the type of crops that you plant in the ground is no different. It will be exciting to see these trees as they grow literally right in our backyard and seeing a little bit of that large scale “changing of the farming landscape” up close.