Meet Brenda Frketich of Kirsch Family Farms, third generation farmer and fourth generation Oregonian. Brenda and her family have been growing hazelnuts on their Willamette Valley farm since 1990. Hazelnuts make up 75 acres of their 1,000 acre farm where they also grow grass seed, wheat, tall fescue, crimson clover and peas. Due to increased demand for hazelnuts overseas, Brenda and her family recently planted 25 additional hazelnut orchard acres which will begin producing nuts in 4 years.
Spring on the farm has arrived! As tender, green buds bloom on the branches, the window of opportunity to assess and trim trees is limited. Brenda and her crew have just about finished pruning for the season and are moving on to another crucial task: tidying up the orchard floor.
“Although harvest is still months away, the process of cleaning our orchard floors starts now,” says Brenda. “It’s important for us to keep our orchard floors clean because when we harvest, we pick the nuts up right off the ground.” Weeds, grass, fallen branches and debris are removed and the orchard floor is flailed – or mowed – so only hazelnuts are collected from the orchard floor come harvest time.
Another springtime task is fertilizing the orchard which will give trees the nutrients they need to thrive throughout the year. The rest is up to Mother Nature. “So far, this sun-rain-mix weather has been great for our hazelnut trees and other crops,” she explains. “The blooms are expanding, making way for a great hazelnut crop this fall.”
Brenda is a busy lady. She and her husband Matt have recently begun managing her family’s farm – everything from day-to-day operations to long-term farm planning. Her mom and dad remain farm mentors, but now have more time to fish, travel and be grandparents.
What else is growing? Brenda and Matt are soon-to-be parents of a their first child and expect this summer to be a busy one!
Be sure to check out Brenda’s blog, Nuttygrass, for farming photos and updates.