initial experience in growing hazelnuts in zone 4 was to
trees in the springs of 1995, 96, and 97. One hundred
grafted or layered cultivars and the other 100 were
trees were described in U.S. catalogues or other print
“cold hardy” or “super hardy” and “resistant” to eastern
filbert blight. Most sources of seedlings indicated that
variability among the offspring was to be expected,
although some did
not mention the substantial variability seen in the
progeny of even
carefully controlled cross -fertilizations.
results of this initial attempt have been discouraging
to say the
least. Only fifteen trees remained of this original
planting in 2006
and seven of these were infected with eastern filbert
only three trees remain. Of the 100 trees in the grafted
group, only one healthy grafted tree remains from the
planting, the cultivar ‘Lisa’ developed by Cecil Farris.
produces a moderate crop of very good nuts. The other
layered trees succumbed to cold injuries or blight.
one remaining healthy seedling is from selections made
Ashworth in northern New York. These seedlings are a
crosses of Skinner x (Graham or Winkler). The seedlings
are very cold
hardy and remarkably wind tolerant. Unfortunately, the
is small and of low quality.
other surviving seedling is a “Finger Lakes Filbert”
Brothers Nursery in Canandaigua, NY. This tree produces
harvest of good quality nuts, but currently has many
on its branches. The nine other Finger Lakes Filberts,
part of the initial planting, became infected with
blight and died some years ago.
of the cultivars which died, produced a good crop of
nuts every year
while healthy. This tree was a layered clone of “Graham
Severe winters kill the catkins of this tree, but the
survived and set nuts every year. Eastern Filbert Blight
tree, but the clone survives from suckering.
the expenditure of time and resources, this is not an
I would choose to repeat. However, there have been many
developments in hazelnut breeding that make the future
those easterners who crave tasty hazelnuts.
our efforts focus on planting seedlings from controlled
exposing them to eastern filbert blight when they are
very young so
that sensitive trees can be rapidly removed and
replaced. We tie
blighted branches above seedlings early in the second
year of growth.
Spores from these blighted branches are released by
spring rains and
infect the new growth on susceptible seedlings. A
sensitive tree will
usually show a blight lesion in 1-3 years. We maintain
on the premises to use as a source of blighted branches
release spores over adjacent trees.
are currently crossing our most resistant and productive
controlled crosses and planting out the resultant
are then exposed to lots of blight and zone 4 cold. If
we’ll find a cold hardy, blight resistant, productive
will produce tasty nuts.
we have not succeeded in any commercial sense,
nevertheless there is
much hope for the future of hazelnuts in Northeastern
due to the outstanding work in hazelnut breeding,
and eastern filbert blight resistance at Oregon State
Shawn Mehlenbacher and colleagues. They have released
cultivars: ‘Santiam’, ‘Jefferson’, ‘Yamhill’, ‘Dorris’,
‘Wepster’, and ‘MacDonald’. which they claim are
eastern filbert blight. We hope to test these cultivars
Molnar at Rutgers University has also been hard at work
samples of filbert blight from all over North America
various cultivars and seedlings for blight resistance.
released a list of cultivars that he has shown to be
to the blight and should serve as parents for a new
blight resistant cultivars (see the NNGA newsletter “The
Sept. 2006,vol.60, no.3, for Tom Molnar and Sara Baxer’s
how to make controlled crosses of hazelnuts and for his
blight resistant cultivars).
is needed now is a large planting of seedlings from cold
disease resistant, productive parents. This would allow
of superior cultivars with many of the desired traits
that we need. I
plan to help in this effort and hope to plant out 1,000
over the next five years. This is only a fraction of
what is needed
if we hope to find truly outstanding cultivars.
If I can help you get started or discuss
related to hazelnuts in zone 4, please give me a call at
Tom Potts, revised July 2014
New York 14813
NNGA, NYNGA, SONG