A ripe hazelnut tree can produce up to 25 pounds of nuts in a single year. Once a tree starts producing, you can expect a new hazelnut harvest every year, up to 50 years. On average, hazelnuts aren't produced until a tree grows for 7 or 8 years from seed. Trees grown with other methods of propagation can produce nuts in 2 or 3 years.
However, self-incompatibility, changes in temperature, biennial production, pests, diseases and animal consumption can greatly affect performance. The amount of nuts produced per plant (especially seed-grown plants) can vary widely. Preliminary research from Minnesota shows that when selected hybrid varieties are used for nut production, 4 to 12 pounds per plant per year can be produced, with an average of close to 7 pounds. Hazelnuts are a unique permanent crop with a long lifespan.
These orchards have an even longer lifespan than almonds. The shrub tree can produce nuts for up to 40-50 years. Unlike most permanent crops, hazelnuts bloom and pollinate during the winter months. Hazelnut blooms with male and female flowers.
The male flowers appear long and yellow, and the female flowers are small and red. Pollinators are not yet active during the cold winter months when hazelnuts bloom; as a result, trees rely on the breeze to carry pollen from one tree to another. The pollen is then stored while the tree is dormant until spring, when fertilization occurs. Hazelnut trees start producing nuts in mid-May and are ready to harvest from August to October.
It is important to give the hazel tree the best growing conditions; an unhealthy tree is unlikely to produce a lot of nuts. Most will tolerate some light shade, although American hazelnuts usually do better in this regard than European hazelnuts. I'm just trying to determine if there's really NO competition in this market in my area, where hazelnuts seem to grow really well everywhere, including in partial shade and in clay soils. If planted in the landscape, leave enough space so that the plants are not crowded to allow for sufficient nut production.
About 65 years ago, when I was a child in West Virginia, I would go to places close to my house after the first frost and pick hazelnuts in the wild, as well as persimmons and papayas. Being an excellent source of protein, hazelnuts are an attractive food for squirrels, moles, birds and mice. But it is also cultivated commercially for its delicious hazelnuts (also known as filberts, cobs or peanuts), which are used in many foods and flavorings. Table 1 presents American hazelnut and other species that are relatively cold-tolerant and are resistant to USDA zones 3 or 4 (equivalent to an average minimum temperature of -30 to -40° F), depending on the variety, and can be grown in most areas of Utah.
Hazelnuts thrive in well-drained, clay soil, but they grow in many types of soil as long as the soil is well-drained. Although the trees have male and female flowers, they are not self-fertile, so you will always get better results if you plant them in groups so that pollen can move from one hazelnut to the next, although other trees in the neighborhood will also help with pollination. As a rule, hazelnuts that grow in the Northern Hemisphere are visible on trees in early summer and ripen in September or October. I'll be happy to unpack this and present you with a practical guide to ensure an excellent harvest of those delicious hazelnuts.