Oregon hazelnut industry on the upswing

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We recently blogged about a Portland Monthly article, emphasizing the need for new hazelnut varieties in order for the industry to overcome the ongoing battle against Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB). That article highlighted one new variety, ‘Jefferson,’ which has already won praise from growers as a blight-resistant variety yielding stellar in-shell results. Subsequently ‘Dorris,’ ‘York’ and ‘Felix’ were released and now, the Oregon hazelnut industry has even more reason to see a bright future. Last week Oregon State University announced the upcoming release of ‘Wepster.’

Thanks to plant breeder, Shawn Mehlenbacher, these new varieties range in size and production time, allowing hazelnuts growers flexibility in their growing practices. ‘Dorris’ and ‘Wepster,’ commercial varieties, share a high level of resistance to the EFB, but differ in other respects. Nuts from the ‘Dorris’ cultivar are notable for their flavor and will be shelled and sold as high-quality kernels. The trees are also notable for their size (about half the size of ‘Barcelonas’), which will lead to increased planting density and shorter time to production. The ‘Wepster’ variety will offer growers an extended harvest with a more vigorous, higher-yielding tree (compared to the ‘Yamhill’). Its nuts, which are small in size, will be sold for use in chocolates and baked goods.

‘York’ and ‘Felix,’ both pollinizer varieties, will be used to pollinate the ‘Dorris’ variety. While they won’t produce commercial yields, their nuts are marketable and both varieties are highly resistant to EFB.

Read more about Dorris, York and Felix on the Capital Press.

Read more about Wepster on the Capital Press.