Oregon Hazelnut Industry
Hazelnuts, also known as filberts, are a special commodity in Oregon. The Oregon hazelnut industry has thrived for more than 100 years, and is now expanding even further. Over 3,000 acres of new trees are planted each year, with roughly 45,000 acres currently in production. There are more than 800 multi-generational family farms located throughout the Willamette Valley that take pride in growing some of the finest hazelnuts in the world. Oregon’s moderate climate and rich volcanic soils make it a pristine area for growing high quality hazelnuts. Oregon hazelnuts are recognized for their inshell quality, large size, rich flavor and freshness. Even though hazelnut growers in Oregon only produce five percent of the world’s hazelnuts, they produce 99 percent of the nation’s hazelnuts, and export 50 percent annually to countries around the world.
The hazelnut tree naturally grows as a bush, but is trained to grow as a single-trunk tree in the United States. Hazelnut trees start producing nuts between two and five years of age, and can produce well over 80 years of age. Hazelnuts are harvested in the fall each year, when nuts start to fall from the trees. Some growers will use equipment called a shaker, to encourage the nuts to drop, but most wait for them to fall on their own. There are four main pieces of equipment farmers use to harvest hazelnuts. The first is a sweeper, used to gather nuts into uniform rows. Next, the harvester drives over the rows to collect the nuts and separate them from sticks and other debris. Once the hazelnuts are sorted, they move up a conveyor belt on the harvester and fall into the nut cart, which is pulled behind the harvester. A forklift is then used to offload nuts from the cart and stack the totes on a truck to be shipped out for processing.
Hazelnuts are available all year round and can be purchased shelled or unshelled, roasted, salted or sweetened. Hazelnuts are high in energy and contain several nutrients that are essential for a healthy lifestyle. Not only are they packed full of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, folate, calcium, potassium and magnesium. Hazelnuts also contain the highest proanthocyanidin (PAC) content of all types of nuts, which help prevent health problems and diseases. Whether enjoyed as a snack, in a favorite recipe, or as a spread, hazelnuts can be celebrated every day!
- Hazelnut Facts:
- The hazelnut became the official state nut of Oregon in 1989
- Oregon is the only state that has an official state nut
- A hazelnut is also known as a filbert
- Hazelnuts are a high quality source of protein and fiber
- The hazelnut tree blooms and pollinates in the middle of winter
- The first hazelnut tree was planted in Oregon in 1858 by Sam Strickland
Learn more about local hazelnut farms here: SJB Farms, Ioka Farms, Hammelman Farms, Scharf Farms, Pearmine Farms, Riddell Farms, 4B Farms, E.Z. Orchards, Kirsch Family Farms, Cook Family Farms