In late February, the Willamette team traveled across the world in search for new hazelnut knowledge in Italy. They traveled to Piedmont, Viterbo, spent some time in Rome, and were able to meet with Italian industry members to look at their operations, equipment, and products.
It was a great opportunity to observe the Italian philosophy about hazelnuts, and the team learned that there are very different ways to grow the same crop.
In Oregon, you have your sweeper, harvester, and totes. In Italy you systematically have one harvester that not only sweeps the nuts in a row, but harvests and blows out excess debris while the nuts fall into a large bin, then dumped once full.
Italian trees lack a trunk compared to Oregon trees, but sprout from the ground with multiple limbs, and each limb is cut down and replaced if it is not producing. In some cases, there will be more than one tree planted in a small area.
Italian trees are grown on hills, not just flat ground and have drip irrigation lines hanging from above. Some varieties seen were the Tonda di Giffoni and Tonda delle Gentile Langhe.
Over all, the trip was a great experience and the team is now ready to use the knowledge gained overseas and apply it to our industry and growers.
Below: Tonda di Gentile Romana near Rome. Notice how the limbs nearly come from the ground and have a short trunk.