I would just write everyday about how it’s still raining, but that gets old for all of us. So instead I thought I’d share about what we did on that one day that it didn’t rain…I know you all remember it a few weeks back. We planted new filbert trees! Actually the more accurate term would probably be replacement trees because the last few years we have stopped adding new acres of hazelnuts (often referred to as filberts) here on our farm and instead are removing older varieties and planting new baby trees.
Our older varieties are Barcelona and were planted back in 1990. This was before blight was really a big “thing” in our area and not something that we had to work very hard to control or manage. That has changed a lot in the past 30 years and with new tree development from Oregon State University we have newer varieties that are resistant to the blight that we are currently having to control in our older trees.
By controlling I mean the use of heavy pruning each year and also fungicide sprays multiple times per year. In turn the new varieties help in reducing labor costs and also the use of fungicides. It’s not quite a win win however because you’re taking down a tree that has been producing an income for you and replacing it with a tree that will take years (usually around 4) before it is producing enough crop to harvest. Meanwhile we are still caring for and nurturing that tree, which all costs money.
We have been slowing chipping away at our older orchards. This planting is only 13 acres and will start to get harvested in the year 2026 or 2027. The variety of tree is Polly O’s along with a handful of pollenizer varieties mixed in as well.
We are planning to wait for a few more years before we take out the final acreage of Barcelonas, they are still producing well and while they take a little more care, it economically makes sense to wait until a few of our newer trees are making some income before completely taking everything out. It’s always easy to make an excuse to leave trees in that are producing nuts because when the price is high you need all the nuts you can get, and when the price in low you need all the nuts you can get….see what happened there, there is no good time when looked at face value, but when you sit and calculate the costs, there comes a time when you just have to move forward with a new variety.
We have had a few more days of drying the past couple of weeks and we are slowly chipping away at getting our crops fertilized, planted, and weeds killed; but it’s been frustrating so far this year. Time will tell what this all means for all of our bottom line, until then we will keep chipping away hoping for more sunshine!
Most of the time when folks think of when farmers here in Oregon are most busy, many would agree that harvest time would be the obvious answer. And in many ways that’s true. Through summer we are working seven days a week, often 14 hours or more a day. But if you look beyond just the “time” aspect, for me, the fall always feels much busier.
During summer harvest you usually find yourself and your crew in a groove. People know what to do pretty much everyday, because it’s the same thing they did yesterday and will often do tomorrow. But in the fall when the end of harvest is winding up for the year and we are gearing up for the next year’s crop, everything seems to come at you all at once.
So lately we have been harvesting filberts when we can get into the orchards. Our seasonal rain here on one hand helps the nuts fall naturally from the tree, which is good because we harvest the nuts off the ground. But it also creates windows of time where you have to wait for the ground to dry enough to be able to harvest off the ground.
So in the “in between” we are also getting ground worked to plant. In the fall we plant our perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, crimson clover, swiss chard, and filberts. We are also applying weed control and fertilizer to many of our established fields. Meanwhile getting projects done such as ditch cleaning, excavation projects, etc.
So in perfect fall fashion the last few weeks have been a triage of “what to do today”. We have been able to get a few fields planted, worked and ready for winter, the tall fescue is all in and we have about quarter of the crimson drilled (planted), and killed off some sprout.
This week we will get back to harvesting the second (and hopefully last) time in our filberts.
And then after more planting in the good weather windows, more excavation repair and maintenance projects….at some point….we will all be very happy that it is finally November!!
We have had some beautiful weather here lately. And while if I was in charge of the weather, we would have had a few more rainy days the past two weeks, I’m not, so here we are.
But as they say, make hay while the sun shines. So we have been out doing all we can while it’s dry. Which for filbert (hazelnut) farmers that means a lot of orchard preparation.
While we don’t harvest these nuts until the fall, this is a great time of year to prepare the soil to be nice and flat, clean of debris, and ready to pick up nuts off the ground once they fall at maturity.
So what does that mean? It means grabbing those last few branches off the ground, flailing up the leaf material and grass, that’s been left for erosion control through the winter rains. Then scraping the ground to level it out from any tracks or erosion that may have occurred.
While harvest is only a small portion of the year, for many of our crops the maintenance of the crop and the soil underneath is a year round project. We want to keep the worms happy so we allow the leaves to remain for food and nutrients for them. We also allow grass to grow to protect the soil. But all of that has to be reset at some point to allow for those nuts to be picked up off the ground for harvest.
Next up for the orchards is getting fertilizer applied, possibly some irrigation and some foliar applications to keep the tree healthy and happy during the growing season. Then eventually harvest this fall.
We don’t always get this large dry window to get the orchards ready this early, but we will take advantage where we can and control what we can control. Because like I said, the weather is one place where I definitely don’t call the shots!