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Year of the Hazelnut

Year of the Hazelnut
It’s time to reflect on another successful year in Oregon’s hazelnut industry.

A late freeze in Turkey took out 40-50% of their crop, causing a worldwide shortage. Leading Oregon processors set a starting price at $1.70 per pound, a new record.

Low quality hazelnuts from Turkey kept them from making U.S. grade. The U.S. grade system holds higher standards than other countries’, making Oregon hazelnuts the best quality option. It gave processors the opportunity to create new business relationships, and show customers how much better Oregon hazelnuts are.

As a result, many of our kernels stayed in the U.S. to fill increased demand. In the last few years, North Americans have started to welcome the idea of hazelnuts and value added products.

For Willamette, things were moving fast in a positive direction. We added two team members; Juliana Bertelli Birkemeier as Grower Relations Manager, and Emilia Craig as Marketing Administrator, both from hazelnut backgrounds. Recently, we launched a new website that will better serve as a tool to keep our growers informed about industry happenings, and attract new customers.

Willamette and Crop Production Services developed The Growth Project to give growers one-on-one guidance and help them achieve the highest yields in the industry. The Growth Project will consist of educational workshops, crop and nutritional assistance, and chemicals and fertilizers at lower costs. All Willamette growers are eligible for this free service.

At the 99th annual Nut Growers Society meeting, Shawn Mehlenbacher and the Oregon State University Hazelnut Breeding Program introduced a new variety, McDonald. This tree is for the kernel industry with its 51% shellout rate, high productivity and is grower friendly in terms of size.

Oregon’s total acreage is increasing as farmers are realizing the value of hazelnuts. Jefferson, Yamhill and newcomer McDonald are among the most popular varieties.

The year will start with the 100th annual Nut Growers Society meeting January 13th, 2015 at LaSelles Stewart Center at Oregon State University, where hazelnut industry leaders will reflect on the past year and plans for the future.

We experienced a record setting year with a growing industry in 2014. We’re excited to see what 2015 will bring and what new achievements will be made.

Happy Holidays,

Your family at

Willamette Hazelnut Growers

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