For many of Oregon’s staple crops, summer is a time of abundance. Juicy strawberries are harvested in June, followed by blueberries, raspberries, peaches, tomatoes, and more. For hazelnuts, harvest won’t begin until early autumn. Despite this, summer is a vibrant season in the orchards, as growers stay busy tending to their growing and maturing crop.
By now, clusters of nuts are filling out the branches. They start out green and sheltered in a protective husk, but as the weather warms up, the nuts take on the shade of their namesake: hazel. As the leaves crowd the branches, orchards develop a dense overhead canopy that provides shaded shelter for hazelnuts to ripen and to keep weeds at bay.
Hazelnut growers work diligently to protect their trees from pests, with the help of nature’s tree guardians like red-tailed hawks and owls that instinctively patrol the orchards. As summer begins to fade, growers are busy grooming the orchards and clearing any branches and debris that may have fallen throughout the summer to make room for ripe hazelnuts, which will begin falling in September. Aside from orchard maintenance in the summer, growers are taking care of all other farm activities to prepare for the busiest time of year in a hazelnut orchard – fall harvest!