April is Earth Month, and April 22 is Earth Day. We are all looking for new ways to be better friends to the planet and conserve our natural resources, and that quest for sustainability is extra imperative for Oregon’s hazelnut growers.
Oregon boasts an ideal climate for growing the world’s highest quality hazelnuts. It’s in this special corner of the world where temperate ocean, mountain and river climates meet with rich volcanic soils to create prime hazelnut-growing country. Hazelnut growers must do their part to preserve these traits, and they do so through many carefully researched and implemented management practices. Farmers and researchers have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in exploring biological controls that lead to healthy, productive orchards, while also protecting natural resources and wildlife.
For example, after harvest, hazelnut growers will allow grass and native plants to grow in between the tree rows; these plants provide soil cover and prevent erosion. Growers also plant buffer strips between the orchards and nearby bodies of water to ensure streams, lakes and rivers remain vibrant. Hazelnut orchards are also incredibly biodeverse, being especially popular with native bird species who feed on insects in the orchard.
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, hazelnuts sequester more carbon compared to annual crops; the extensive root systems of perennial crops help build and increases organic soil matter, sequestering more carbon from the atmosphere each year. Hazelnuts also have a much longer period of photosynthetic activity–which means more carbon dioxide is taken out of the air and replaced with oxygen–and hazelnuts allow less nitrogen leaching than annual crops.
Taking care of our planet and natural resources takes all of us working together, and Oregon hazelnut growers take their part in this mission very seriously!