Are hazelnuts profitable?

Hazelnuts provide a very profitable income far above what any annual grain crop can do, after the necessary 6-year wait before trees produce a significant amount of nuts. Terry Ross, executive director of the Hazelnut Producers Negotiation Association, says the president's trade war is having an impact. More than half of all hazelnuts grown in Oregon end up in China, so the tit-for-tat tariff is a drag on profits. Although they are primarily known as the key ingredient in the ever-popular Nutella spread, hazelnuts have a long history of diverse uses in human nutrition that continues to evolve to this day.

Oregon Hazelnuts, an association of & industry producers, has dedicated an entire page of its website to exploring the myriad health benefits of these nuts. The growth in demand for hazelnuts in the U.S. The U.S. and abroad is projected to stay strong, and the solidification of the U.S.

hazelnut industry seems to be taking shape to match that growth. The export markets and the prices they paid have been bread and butter to help build this industry and give us wings to expand into new markets and make growing hazelnuts profitable for producers. And that competition is serious, given the size of the global hazelnut market and its potential growth in North America. If butterflies and bees continue to die, hazelnuts can survive their wind-blown catkins.

This put the world's largest buyer of hazelnuts under enormous pressure to change its supply chain and include a more geographically diverse production base. Although not all hazelnuts will be sold at the minimum price, the increase in cost indicated a safer outlook for the hazelnut market compared to last year. And it's the subject of an ambitious effort to convince farmers to plant one million hybrid hazel shrubs in the upper Midwest, using the plant's deep roots to prevent soil runoff and agricultural chemicals while providing farmers with a new source of revenue. In addition, Oregon hazelnut crops have long benefited from agricultural researchers at Oregon State University, who have developed trees resistant to eastern filbert blight, a tree-killing fungal disease that wreaked havoc on Oregon hazelnut farms 30 years ago.

Even cloned hazel bushes, with identical genetics, can grow as differently as branches on a tree, said Lois Braun of the U., co-leader of the development initiative. Unlike soybean cultivation, which often leaves vast bare fields during some of the wettest times of the year, wild hazelnut bushes that are native to the area have deep roots that could end much of the erosion and runoff of fertilizers that flow into streams, lakes and rivers. These “Hybrid Hazels” are behind the recent eruption of new growth in the US hazel industry, as they not only present more economically attractive production options for farmers in the Willamette Valley, but they also present enormous potential for expansion in the rest of the United States. The Million Hazelnut campaign, mainly in Minnesota and Wisconsin, is partly a fundraising effort and partly an advertising effort.

Dena Mckusick
Dena Mckusick

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