A Guide to Growing Your Own Hazelnuts

, written by Benedict Vanheems gb flag

Homegrown hazelnuts

Winter's when we go nuts for nuts! Enjoy them roasted (on an open fire...or in the oven), munched naked straight out of the shell, or baked with herbs and pulses to create a satisfying vegetarian alternative to traditional roast meats. Nuts are highly nutritious but eat them in any quantity and your wallet will take a fair whack. The solution, as with any premium produce, is to grow them yourself.

Many of the kitchen gardeners I speak to about nuts are put off by the thought of growing them. They need lots of space, right? It's easy to see why this prejudice exists when you think of the grandeur of a mature sweet chestnut or the statuesque beauty of a walnut tree. But this isn't the complete picture. Some nuts, including hazelnuts, are perfectly suited to garden growing – and they'll put on quite a show while they're at it.

Handsome Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts are the easiest nuts to grow – perfect for nervous would-be nutters! The hazelnut family Corylus includes the common hazel and closely related cobnuts and filberts. You can tell the difference between a hazel or cob and a filbert because the husk of the latter completely envelops the shell.

Hazelnut catkins

All members of the hazelnut family produce stunning dangling yellow catkins in late winter/early spring. These are the male parts of the plant that contain the pollen necessary for fertilising the female flowers and ensuring a good crop. Clouds of pollen waft forth on a windy day to pollinate the tiny female flowers held at the branch tips. It means that these wind-pollinated nuts actively prefer a site in the open. Furthermore, they are exceptionally hardy, putting up with both wet and cold winters. This makes them very useful plants for problem parts of the garden.

Some hazels have additional beauty queen credentials in addition to the chandelier-like mass of spring catkins. The corkscrew hazel Corylus avellana 'Contorta' is so-named for its twisted, contorted stems, which are tailor-made for winter flower arrangements. A purple-leaved filbert Corylus maxima 'Purpurea' will add contrast in the garden and in the nut bowl with its purple-husked nuts. All hazelnuts, cobnuts and filberts will provide additional shelter and food for wildlife, particularly when grown as part of a hedgerow.

How to Care For Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts prefer soil that's well drained and fairly low in nutrients; overly rich soil gives plenty of leaf growth at the expense of flowers and nuts. Although the trees have both male and female flowers they are not self-fertile, so you will always get better results if you plant them in a group so that the pollen can drift from one hazelnut to the next, though other trees in the neighbourhood will also help with pollination. Don't worry – the word 'tree' is a technicality here; hazelnuts are generally grown as a bushy shrub and can be kept to a very manageable size by pruning.

Hazelnut tree or shrub

If you have the space, try planting a small orchard of hazelnuts, setting trees about 4m (15ft) apart to give them plenty of room. Create a matrix of different varieties to maximise pollination potential. Check the pollinator compatibility of the trees you want to grow to ensure a good match. Varieties need to be in flower at the same time to secure successful pollination.

Caring for hazelnuts is straightforward. Prune them in winter to encourage an open bush. Do this by removing about a third of the oldest growth, cutting or carefully sawing the stems back to ground level. Thin out areas that are overcrowded to keep the centre light and airy. Cut back any crossing branches, but leave the young, twig-like growth, which bears most of the female flowers.

Suckers are stems that grow directly from the roots of the plant, often at some distance from the main stem. These need to be dug out or pulled right off to prevent a mass of impenetrable stems. Keep on top of these suckers and they won't cause a headache later on.

Harvesting Hazelnuts

The nuts are ready to collect in autumn as soon as the husks have yellowed. Pick them from the tree, or if they're perfectly ripe you may be able to shake them off onto a tarpaulin or sheet. Store you cache of nuts in a dry, airy place within crates, nets, cloth bags or slatted boxes.


Squirrels are natural acrobats. And they're very determined! How to keep your nuts safe from their marauding grasp is a tricky one. Due to the way hazelnuts are grown, there's little you can do to keep squirrels off your trees, other than enclose them in a wire mesh-clad fruit cage, which seems a bit excessive. The only practical answer is eagle-eyed vigilance. Should squirrels take more than their fair share then get out there and pick them at once. They may be slightly under-ripe but the squirrels wouldn't be after them if they didn't think they were ready to eat.

Dry your nuts by spreading them out onto trays, turning them every few days for an even result. Dry them indoors in a warm place for two to three weeks. Once they are dry you can scrape away the papery husks and store, either in or out of their shells.

I would love to hear from other gardeners who grow hazelnuts, cobnuts or filberts – or indeed any nuts. Do you have any tips for squirrel-proofing your crop? And how do you use them in the kitchen? Share your comments below.

By Benedict Vanheems.

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Show Comments


"Good article but what zones are good/best for these to grow?"
Kelly on Friday 14 November 2014
"Hi Kelly. They grow in USDA zones 4 through to 8. If you are in the coldest zone, then go for American varieties of hazelnut, which tend to be hardier. Let us know how you get on."
Benedict Vanheems on Monday 17 November 2014
"There are two common native varieties of Hazel trees in the U.S. They are not self-fertile. One type is "American" and one is "Beaked." The husk on the nuts of the latter completely envelopes the shell; it kind of looks like a beak. Some hybrids are considered sort of self-fertile but having a second variety or compatible planted-from-seed tree nearby is always better for the harvest. Store-bought Hazelnuts are typically a European variety and are larger than the native nuts, but most folk think the native nuts taste the best."
Hobart Crudd on Tuesday 17 February 2015
"Hi Hobart. Many thanks for sharing this insight - it's appreciated from someone gardening here in the UK."
Benedict Vanheems on Tuesday 17 February 2015
"I would like to grow hazelnuts in wisconsin. where would I get the seed or plant?"
Cindy on Saturday 7 March 2015
"Hi Cindy. I would try at your local nursery. Failing that, try doing a search online for suitable stockists in your area. Hazelnuts are fairly widespread, so I'm sure there will be someone local to you that sells them."
Benedict Vanheems on Monday 9 March 2015
"www.twowests.co.uk/category/fruit-and-vegetable-cages have saved my garden this year! I was struggling a lot with the wildlife (although I always make sure they're not neglected) and the large fruit cages have saved my raspberries! So even though it can seem like the last resort to get a fruit cage, I'm so glad I did. Click the link to check them out!"
Bethany Walker on Monday 16 March 2015
"I have found many Hazel trees/bushes growing wild in OR and WA (US), usually in the vicinity of a stream. The problem (discounting any legal issues) with digging them up for transplanting is that they develop a significant tap-root fairly young, so a healthy-looking 3-footer (meter), or taller, specimen will probably break its tap-root being removed from its site. Opinions vary as to how well such a plant can recover. I just started doing this last Fall (moving them from the woods on my land) and mine mostly look good, but I'm told that with a broken tap-root they may grow and yet not fruit. We'll see. One nice thing about scouting for wild trees is that you can at least go there (a little before the other wildlife) and get a harvest. Plus, the transplants might fruit! Still have to have more than one, though."
Hobart Crudd on Sunday 22 March 2015
"I've recently planted a purple contorted hazel but my two dogs barged into it and broke off one of the slender branches about 20cm long and in leaf bud. It came away with a heel on it so I've put it into a small pot, in a warmish place in the hope it might take root. Any advice on the probability of that happening?"
Sandy on Saturday 16 May 2015
"Sandy, again from my limited experience, most nut trees seem to greatly utilize a tap root, which grows straight down for quite a ways. In a pot that root will circle around and around. I believe it is for that reason that nut trees aren't permanently planted containers. I'm not sure if you are trying to get a branch to root. You can investigate that but though 'layering' with live branches is a common way to propagate hazel trees, rooting from cuttings is not. Here is a link to special techniques for growing nut tree seedlings. http://northernpecans.blogspot.com/2013/06/growing-pecan-seedlings-in-containers.html"
Hobart Crudd on Saturday 16 May 2015
"The suckers referred to are also known as 'free trees.' Do some research to find out the best time to do this but at some point these trees are sufficiently independent of the mother tree and not yet overly burdened with their own long taproot, and can be moved to a new location. I believe they are clones and so are not good additional pollinators for the parent tree but they are viable re: the rest of the community."
Hobart Crudd on Wednesday 27 May 2015
"Hi, we recently inherited a twisted hazel ... The previous owners of the house planted it. It's about 5 to 6 foot tall so I'm guessing not a young tree. I love the tree with its gnarled branches..and it looks really healthy. The catkins appear but to this day I have never seen any flowers appear...which therefor means no nuts :( it's been over a year so given the tree a full cycle to see what happens season to season. Everywhere I read articles claim even the twisted hazel should produce both male catkins and female flowers...is it possible we have a male only tree? Any advice appreciated. We haven't pruned it other than removing any straight shoots that appear...I read that somewhere. Really want it to produce some nuts! Thanks for any tips."
Alex on Thursday 28 May 2015
"Hi Alex. Male and female catkins/flowers are definitely found on the same plant. They perform better when there are more than one tree in the immediate locality - this helps with pollination. So it could simply be that the hazel needs another hazel nearby to boost pollination. The female flowers are very tiny, so it may be that you simply haven't spotted them! They are out at the same time as the dangling male catkins."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 1 June 2015
"I took over my brother's allotment at the beginning of this year and while not a newbie at growing my own produce I found myself with two Corkscrew Hazelnut trees, one is a fully developed specimen about 7ft x 7ft and wasn't sure about when to harvest - so was glad to read your column on the subject. "
Carol Quayle on Sunday 21 June 2015
"It would be better for you to get an allotment down the correct channels Carol. Waiting list and own name. The Allotment Society usually dont approve of someone taking over a family members allotment and its not in the rent agreement."
Veg Grower on Wednesday 5 August 2015
"Hi, greetings from Serbia.I was wondered if you could help me with something. I have done the analysis of the soil but i dont know if it needs to be improved. Could I send you the analysis so you coukd tell me what needs to be done, and wich tipe of huzelnut I should plant. Thank you"
Nikola on Sunday 11 October 2015
"Hi Nikola. Unfortunately we can't offer that service. Most hazelnuts aren't too fussy about soil conditions though. They prefer well-drained soil, but will also cope with wet and cold winters. I would ask about hazelnuts at a local plant nursery, as they will be able to advise on the best varieties for your area."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 12 October 2015
"What is the best time of year to plant hazelnut seedlings? I'm in a "Zone 5" area, and will just be growing a few backyard trees. Thanks!"
Karen Knight on Saturday 6 August 2016
"Hi Karen. Zone 5 can get pretty cold, so to stay safe I'd be inclined to plant seedlings at the very start of spring, just before the buds break into leaf."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 8 August 2016
"Our hazelnut trees produce well but there are many empty shells (assume not pollinated). Does anyone know of a way to sort the good from the empty shells without cracking them all open? We have tried floating them. All the sinkers are good but some of the floaters are also good!"
Margaret on Friday 26 August 2016
"Hi Margaret. I've not heard of this happening before and would love to hear if anyone else has experienced this and has a solution to sorting the filled shells from the empty ones."
Ben Vanheems on Friday 26 August 2016
"HI where i can find information about setting up hazelnut farm step by step ??Thank you"
Alex on Wednesday 28 September 2016
"Shoot the squirrels and eat them. Free protein and delicious to boot. Just dust them with flour, then fry them in a little bacon grease. Use the pan drippings to make Squirrel Gravy and bake some biscuits. Man, that's good eating !!"
The Porkster on Tuesday 4 October 2016
"Can you just plant hazelnuts in shell bought at a grocery store?"
Alan on Saturday 5 November 2016
"Hi Alan. Hazelnuts can, in theory, grow new hazelnut plants - that's how they of course grow in the wild. However, the process can be quite long-winded and growing from store-bought nuts may not work as the nuts may have been treated or stored in a way that renders them useless for this purpose. If you're determined, however, you can collect your own nuts and try these. This article explains how to do it: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/grow-hazelnuts-seeds-49350.html "
Ben Vanheems on Monday 7 November 2016
"Hello, I have just moved into a house with a Hazelnut tree. It is overgrown and I was told only very rarely produces nuts. Is it possible for me to make it produce again? I was told if I pruned about 1/3 of it it would begin to produce again. I have never grown a Hazelnut tree and need help!"
Theresa on Wednesday 7 December 2016
"Hi Theresa. How you prune really depends on the size and shape of the tree. If the hazelnut is badly cluttered, then yes, do go ahead and prune out some of the branches, removing any badly positioned, shaped or crossing stems to leave a cleaner, clearer crown. Hazel is pretty vigorous, so pruning will encourage lots of new growth, which is where the nuts will eventually come from. Some hazelnuts are pruned to produce a coppice or pollard - i.e. lots and lots of vertical stems from the base or a stubby trunk. You could cut all of these stems right down to the ground/stump at once, which would encourage lots more vertical stems (these are great for cutting as vertical supports for climbing beans etc.). Is your hazelnut a more typical tree form, or lots and lots of shoots all emerging from the ground/a single trunk?"
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 8 December 2016
"Thank you for your response! I think I may just cut it down to the ground and get a fresh start. The hazel is the kind that has lots of shoots coming from the ground. "
Theresa on Thursday 8 December 2016
"It sounds like it's been coppiced in the past, which means it is cut back to the ground regularly to produce masses of new shoots. Good luck with it - less us know how you get on."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 8 December 2016
"I am planning on making a espalier fence along my property line. I was wondering if hazelnuts would be compatible with that. I'd love to grow hazelnuts, but I don't have a lot of space in my yard for large bushes."
Heidi on Monday 12 December 2016
"Hi Heidi. I'm afraid that hazelnuts wouldn't really be suitable for growing as an espalier, because of their vigorous growing habit. "
Ben Vanheems on Friday 16 December 2016
"This comming spring I'm planning on cutting down a large evergreen tree that is leaning badly. I would like to plant a hazelnut trees on on each corner of our front lawn. I live in the city and the sewer system is only a few feet away of where I wish to plant them. Is this a problem? Will the roots seek out the water source and destroy the sewer tiles? Randy on Friday December 23 2016"
Randy Bell on Friday 23 December 2016
"Hi Randy. It's hard to say really. The sewer system pipes should be robust enough to withstand roots, particularly as there are so many street trees etc. And while hazelnuts are good growers, I wouldn't imagine their root systems would be that invasive. So I would be inclined to go with it, especially if, as you say, the sewer system is two or three feet away, which would allow the roots of the hazelnut a four to six foot diameter spread - more than enough."
Ben Vanheems on Tuesday 3 January 2017
"do the hazelnuts need to be frozzen to start to grow"
Stephen Molter on Friday 13 January 2017
"Hi Stephen. Hazelnuts are best sown fresh - i.e. in late summer, using fresh, ripe hazelnuts picked from the bush. They are then sown into pots before transferring to a cool (but not frosty) place - usually a refrigerator. They need to stay here for three to four months. The cold stimulates the nuts to germinate once they are removed from the cold at the end of this period. They can then be moved to a warm place to germinate. The potting soil will need to be kept moist throughout this time. An easier way to propagate hazelnuts is by mound layering, though this of course depends on you having a hazelnut in the garden in the first place. If not, growing from (fresh!) hazelnuts could be a fun and very rewarding project."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 16 January 2017
"How can I encourage flowers on my hazelnuts? I have 9 bushes some of them are 20 years old,but I never get any nuts! I get lots of catkins but no flowers. I tried breaking back the limbs one year but maybe I did it at the wrong time? Any suggestions? Thanks "
Charlie Danielson on Wednesday 1 March 2017
"Hi Charlie. The catkins are the male flowers, and the female ones are very small. It sounds like your hazelnuts are flowering fine - the problem is they're not producing any nuts. Are the nine hazelnut bushes close to each other? If they are far apart then they won't be cross-pollinating. Hazelnuts produce far more nuts if they are grown closer together and the pollen from one tree can fertilise another. Trees should be no more than about 20 metres (60 feet) apart. Also, if the tree is producing lots of suckers - shoots emerging from the base of the trunk - then these should be cut out to leave just the main, central stem. Lots of suckers means fewer nuts, so it is worth keeping on top of these. "
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 2 March 2017
"I found a sprouted hazelnut in my composting bark pile. Transferred to a gallon pot with potting soil. It is about 6 inches tall with good roots attached. I live in zone 8 in Southern Oregon. Hoping to have a hazelnut tree someday. Not sure of any others in the neighborhood. Probably from my friendly blue jay. He brings me lots of other surprises. "
Marian Treece on Sunday 23 April 2017
"What a lovely surprise! I hope it continues to grow and thrive for you."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 24 April 2017
"I would love to have squirrels come to visit me! I will plant hazelnuts, then!"
lisa on Thursday 27 April 2017
"Hi Ben, I have one mature hazel nut bush on my property and have planted six more of different types for cross pollination. Can I do scion grafting of the cross pollinators to each other to improve pollination? "
Mark Ward on Monday 29 May 2017
"Hi Ben, I have one mature hazel nut bush on my property and have planted six more of different types for cross pollination. Can I do scion grafting of the cross pollinators to each other to improve pollination? "
Mark Ward on Monday 29 May 2017
"Hi Mark. Having a number of different hazelnuts in the vicinity should be enough to ensure adequate cross pollination. Grafting the different varieties onto different plants would be a lot of hard work with no guarantee of success. As long as the trees are within reasonably close proximity - so that the pollen can travel between them - you're fine."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 5 June 2017
"I have two hazelnut trees that are probably ten years old. I've never seen them flower and we've never gotten any fruit. I haven't pruned them because they're still so small. Do you have any idea why this might happen, or can you direct me to other places that might have an answer?"
Lauren on Sunday 2 July 2017
"I have to confess Lauren that's a bit of a mystery. They should be producing nuts by now. They do need a sunny or at least part-sunny position, so if they are growing in a highly shaded area this could be your problem."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 3 July 2017
"No, they're in full sun. Both are currently about four to five feet tall and have never suckered. They're fifteen feet apart. Some things just don't thrive in my yard. I may pull them and plant something else. Thanks for your response!"
Lauren on Tuesday 4 July 2017
"That's disappointing Lauren, particularly when they've put on so much growth by now. I hope that you'll have better luck with what you choose to replace them."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 6 July 2017
"My hazelnut bushes are beautiful, but they never produce any flowers, any pollinating dangling things, and there has never been a nut on either bush. We have plenty of trees in our neighborhood, my bushes are about 10 feet apart and we have wonderful windy days here, but never a hazelnut on the bushes. I love hazelnuts, but I must be doing something very wrong."
Janie on Tuesday 5 September 2017
"Hi Janie. That is a bit of a mystery, as they should definitely be producing flowers towards the end of each winter. Could it be that the trees are just still a but young and haven't established enough yet to produce flowers? "
Ben Vanheems on Friday 8 September 2017
"If you have catkins but no nuts, you might try hand-pollinating early next spring. Look online for a picture of the female hazelnut flowers so you know what to look for: they are tiny red threads coming from apparent buds all along the length of the branches. Start looking in late winter as they are out very early spring. Then find an expanded yellow-green fat catkin from another hazel bush, and dab it over the flowers. You can also pick and hang a few catkins high in other bushes. You won't see the result of fertilization until many months later. I tried it in 2017 and it worked! I finally got nuts from the large vigorous bush."
Chris in NY on Saturday 16 September 2017
"Hi Chris. That's brilliant - thanks so much for your suggestion. This would be very useful, I imagine, during relatively still conditions too, to help the pollen get to exactly where it's needed."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 18 September 2017
"Hi Chris. That's brilliant - thanks so much for your suggestion. This would be very useful, I imagine, during relatively still conditions too, to help the pollen get to exactly where it's needed."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 18 September 2017
"Well, when I bought the bushes they were supposed to be 2-years of age. I have now had them in my front yard for at least 5 years and nothing but leaves. I have never seen the red flowers on my bushes that Chris wrote about. Googled images of female hazelnut bush flowers and I have definitely not seen any of the beautiful flowers. Starting to wonder if I even have Hazelnut bushes now. I will be snipping a bit off a branch and visiting my local nursery to see if I have planted hazelnuts. Thanks for your help! I'll let you know what I find out."
Janie on Tuesday 19 September 2017
"Please do Janie. It sounds like you may have been sold the wrong plant!"
Ben Vanheems on Wednesday 20 September 2017
"Hi Ben, I have 4 hazel trees. Planted about 3 years ago. Lots of hazelnuts last year, although a bit small. We didn’t prune them so this year they shot up.... but no hazelnuts. Any idea why? I’m in Ireland so wet soil Perry"
Perry O’Connor on Friday 27 October 2017
"Hi Perry. It's difficult to know what the cause could be. Sometimes fruit and nut trees produce less fruit/nuts after a particularly heavy crop the year before. This is called biennial bearing, and it could be what's happening here. Regular pruning is a good way to keep trees vigorous, while increasing yields."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 30 October 2017
"Aloha, I would love to add Hazelnut trees to my Tree farm. I have avocados and citrus trees. I also have my own "doorstep herb garden" its amazing at what I can grow here the land is great for growing trees, veggies and herbs. "
Stella on Friday 1 December 2017
"The Arbor Day organization has a Hazelnut Project where you can join in and return results of your trees to the organization to further the development of new varieties. You simply go to the site at www.arborday.org and then click on TREES in the top menu. When you get to that page type in Hazelnut and Enter. You will be shown a page where you can see two varieties. Click on either variety for more info and pricing. Pricing is cheaper if you join the Arbor Day organization, however there is no requirement to do so. But, if you are going to buy more than one tree joining makes sense for the savings.With that said, this site gives much more information about planting, care, feeding, and harvesting than the Arbor Day site, by far exceeding the information supplied when buying the plants at Arobor Day.In fact, I found this site looking for ways to get more growth out of my plants and it looks like I don't really need to do anything other than keeping it watered."
Jesse Glesswner on Tuesday 23 January 2018
"Hi Jesse. Thanks for the information and I'm really pleased the article has proved useful. "
Ben Vanheems on Tuesday 23 January 2018
"It is first week of March I live in Langley B.C. I have two old nut trees they are already budded Can I still prone them now thinking of planting a orchard"
Rick on Saturday 3 March 2018
"A year ago, in a response here, you wrote "Lots of suckers means fewer nuts, so it is worth keeping on top of these." I've been promoting commercial hazelnut production by coppicing in hedgerows, but only one grower here in Oregon has tried my high-density, hedgerow concept (as opposed to planting a traditional orchard). Your comment seems to indicate that you don't think hazel will produce nuts well from suckers. Why is this? "
Kevin Chambers on Sunday 4 March 2018
"I received my Hazelnut - trees? - from the Arbor Day Hazelnut Project and planted those last year. They seem to have rooted well and are between 6 in. and 10 in. above the ground. SO, how much growth should I expect from them this coming year under average North Central Indiana weather? After seeing some of the photos on this site I'm wondering how long it will take before my plants start producing also?"
Jesse Glessner on Sunday 4 March 2018
"Hi Rick. You should be able to continue pruning at any time before the plants start back into growth. I imagine in BC you're probably still technically in winter, unless it's been very mild lately, so should be able to safely prune."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 15 March 2018
"Hi Kevin. The removal of suckers is more about keeping traditional 'tree' grown hazelnuts tidy and maintaining distinct, separate plants that don't grow into each other as a thicket of stems. However, you clearly seem to be enjoying success with your technique, after all wild hedgerows will still yield nuts. It's interesting to learn of your technique - please do give a little more detail if you're able to, as I'm sure other hazelnuts enthusiasts would be keen to learn more on this."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 15 March 2018
"Hi Jesse. It's hard to predict how much growth a hazelnut will put on in a year, because it varies so much with soil conditions and climate. I would expect growth of at least a couple of feet, but possibly more. Hazelnut tend to begin cropping within two to five years of planting."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 15 March 2018
"Ben, Thanks for your response. I've been promoting growing hazelnuts in hedgerows for at least 10 years, but I know of only one commercial grower trialing the system. I promote this because hazelnuts are really understory shrubs, not really trees. As a result, our orchards here in the Willamette Valley are subject to lots of limb breakage. It seems foolish to spend years building a tree "scaffold" on which to grow nuts in the top 25% of the tree. Most other tree fruits (and some nuts), have moved to high-density planting in order to improve ROI. Sometimes these high-density orchards (as in apples and cherries) require trellising. But hazelnuts do well without a trellis and willingly send up lots of suckers to populate what will become a coppice over time. Since no one really has years of experience with this model (it's really theoretical), most likely some thinning of suckers would be required. And I estimate once every 5-7 years, the grower would saw off all the suckers on one side of the coppice (alternating timing to preserve production from the coppice). This regular removal of wood should eliminate or vastly reduce problems with EFB (the most damaging problem here in Oregon), thus we could grow the older, more productive varieties (with larger nuts) that are so susceptible to EFB, rather than the newer (less proven) varieties. Perhaps the best part of the hedgerow concept would be the improved interception of light in a vertical canopy (as opposed to the essentially horizontal approach of the traditional orchard). This would also allow the grower to have a healthy cover crop between the hedgerows, as opposed to the herbicided orchard floor that is the norm now. I could go on with the benefits of this approach, but I'll stop now. It just seems to be a superior approach to growing hazelnuts. "
Kevin Chambers on Thursday 15 March 2018
"Hi Kevin. This sounds like a genuinely interesting and likely successful way of growing hazelnuts. Certainly the way you describe it does appear to make good sense. It's great to be trialing 'alternative' methods like this, though of course coppicing is a centuries-old technique, particularly over here in Britain. Thanks so much for sharing this information. We need to be trying new (often old!) ways of doing things to boost productivity without upping inputs such as herbicides and pesticides."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 19 March 2018
"Hi Ben great source of information on here thanks. I want to plant 4 or 5 trees to create a screen from a neighbours house which looks onto our garden. My question is which variety of cobnut or filbert would reach an eventual height of 6m or would I need to grow common hazel to achieve this? Would be great to have a good nut producing screen. Many thanks in advance Matt "
Matt on Wednesday 11 April 2018
"Hi Matt. Both cobnuts and filberts, and hazels, which are all essentially the same type of tree, will grow to eventually reach around 5m (15ft) in height, so perhaps a little shy of the 6m you're after. To enable them to reach this height they need to be spaced a similar distance apart. As you say, they would make a lovely productive screen."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 12 April 2018
"Ben, Thanks again for sustaining this dialogue. I did deduce my hedgerow hazelnut production concept from the "centuries-old" British method of growing hazel from coppices for post, poles and firewood. I've read postulations that coppiced hazelnuts may have been the earliest form of "agriculture" during the Neolithic Period in Britain. BTW, to the previous post, we have filbert (hazelnut) trees in old orchards on rich, loamy, high OM soils here in Oregon that will reach 15m! But that's no longer encouraged to favor more manageable orchards. "
Kevin Chambers on Thursday 12 April 2018
"Ben, I wanted to give you an update on the non-bearing hazelnuts. I decided to move them to another area of the yard, thinking the problem might be the soil, and when I dug down to get them out I discovered that the roots were growing horizontal on top of a solid layer of rocks. The roots were no more than twelve inches deep. Drought stress is increased with roots that shallow. They seem to be doing fine in their new spots, we'll see if it makes a difference."
Lauren on Friday 13 April 2018
"Hi Kevin. Thanks for your comment and further detail of your growing methods. I'm amazed by your 15m-tall hazelnuts!"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 16 April 2018
"Hi Lauren. So pleased your hazelnuts seem to be happier now. The very shallow soil may well have been the problem. I hope they now flourish for you."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 16 April 2018
"My hazelnuts have the catskins and red flowers...FINALLY!! They are the right bushes!! Going on year six and they were 2 when I bought them. Turns out you can successfully grow hazelnuts in Colorado!! "
Janie on Tuesday 17 April 2018
"That's great news Janie - congratulations on getting them to flower. Hopefully lots and lots of hazelnuts will follow!"
Ben Vanheems on Wednesday 18 April 2018
"I have three Hazelnut trees to plant and they are about 10-12 foot apart. Two are about 1 ft tall and the other is about 3 1/2 ft tall. It is good soil well drained and I expect those to do well. My question is, "Would planting Rhubarb be detrimental to either the Hazelnut OR the Rhubarb if I plant two Rhubarb plants between the Hazelnut trees?""
Jesse Glessner on Sunday 22 April 2018
"No, I think both would be fine. The rhubarb would create a nice ground-layer of vegetation and would be fine in the dappled shade. And I don't think the hazelnuts would be any worse off for it."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 23 April 2018
"Hello Ben. Many thanks for this great interactive site that you have kept going all these years! I am an independent agronomist in Swaziland, southern Africa. Just yesterday an Italian walked into my office, and told me about some hazelnuts (three bushes, different ages) growing in the yard of a convent in our capital, Mbabane. According to the nuns they never had any fruit from them. I will go have a look tomorrow and will come back with a sitrep, but one question I'd like to ask to start off. We may be a little too warm here, although our climate is subtropical, not tropical. Do hazels need chilling in winter in order to induce flowering, and if so, how much? Mbabane will typically get a dozen or so nights with ground frost each winter (it is in the hills), but temperature will just as happily shoot up into the low 20s (C) during the day. I know that high daytime temperatures in some plants can negate any night chilling. How is this with hazels?"
Harry van den Burg on Friday 1 June 2018
"Hi Harry. Thanks for the kind words about the website - very much a team effort among us here. We're proud we are now one of the most comprehensive sources of gardening advice out there! It's great to have readers from all over, including Swaziland, which is somewhere that's always intrigued me. In answer to your question, I'm afraid I am not entirely sure about the vernilization (chilling) period of hazels. My intuition would be that it does require a certain chilling period owing to it's typically temperate climate distribution. The fact you have occasional frosts does bode well for its requirement, though as you suggest, I'm not sure how warm days would influence night-time chilling. So in short, I can't answer your question. I have had a bit of a trawl online to try and find an answer, but have drawn a blank. It may be worth finding out of the bushes flower and, if they do, if much pollen is produced. The pollen relies on wafts of wind to distribute it, so if it's very still this may be the reason. Or it could be that it is too warm and the pollen is potentially rendered ineffective? Sorry I can't be of more help. Do let me know if you manage to find out the reason behind their lack of fruiting."
Ben Vanheems on Friday 1 June 2018
"Hello again Ben. Well, things are looking interesting. It turned out that the nuns don't have three bushes, just one. So we can already guess the first reason for the lack of fruits: no cross-pollination. If they flower at all I still don't know, there was no-one around to ask when I was there. But the second problem makes that a bit unlikely: the bush was standing under some pretty big trees. It could still have received enough light from the sides, but definitely not optimal. I found some Dutch research results that showed that flower initiation in hazels takes place under the influence of light, not cold. In the northern hemisphere flowers are initiated in June or July, depending on variety. The female ones, that is, the males are initiated from mid May already. The actual flowering does not seem to be triggered in a direct way by weather factors, although for the same variety in a generally warm climate flowering does take place earlier than in a cold one. Lastly, the bush was not too well tended, it was planted as part of a kind of hedge around the actual vegetable garden. Because the garden is on a slope and is being kept excessively clean, there was a fair amount of erosion on the lower side of the bush, and practically no humus layer. This must influence the vigour, and might result in short shoots. This is another factor influencing flowering: in order to flower properly, last year's shoot must be roughly between 15 and 45 cm long. Not longer and not shorter. It should also have grown from a vegetative bud, as opposed to a mixed one (that is, a bud that produced both leaves and fruits on its shoot). The nuts seem to suppress initiation of female flowers on the same shoot. So, the mystery is probably solved for this bush. But we still are looking for good location to plant hazelnuts here. The international trade is worried about political developments in Turkey (70% of the word's hazelnut production!!) so there is a fair amount of interest in risk-spreading...."
Harry van den Burg on Monday 11 June 2018
"Hi Harry. Thanks for the update. Glad the mystery is solved. I think hazelnuts are a great thing to grow generally, and the stems offer a great local alternative to bamboo canes. Good luck with your project - I hope you all get some hazelnuts to enjoy soon."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 11 June 2018
"Hello, I am new to your blog. I have been growing the varieties; 'Dorris' , 'Jefferson', and 'Theta' for one year in containers. They are WEEDS, I can not believe how fast they grow...I also have some native Corylus americana that are a couple years older. I have sandy soil; (I sit on an old beech head of lake Erie, west of Toledo, Ohio.) I want to clarify some things... Is my soil OK?, I should space these varieties 12-15 feet apart? I should OR should Not prune suckers? I hope to start a small 'orchard' of edibles, IE Filberts, Paw Paws, blueberries, 'super fruit' honeysuckle,etc. Thanks for your input!"
chris on Tuesday 26 June 2018
"Hi Chris. Your small orchard of edibles sounds like a delicious idea - I hope it goes well for you. Hazels prefer a light, sandy soil, so what you have there sounds ideal. In any case they aren't terribly fussy when it comes to soil type. Yes, space hazelnuts about 15ft apart. It sounds like a lot - and you could probably plant a little closer - but it will give the best results, with plenty of airflow between plants and lots of light to speed ripening of the nuts. You should remove suckers, which grow away from the centre of the plant, to stop your hazels becoming a thicket of stems, which would make further pruning, care and harvesting very difficult. "
Ben Vanheems on Tuesday 26 June 2018
"Hi there guys, i'm trying to plant a field of about 1 hectar with hazelnut trees. Will i need more than 2 compatible species for pollination? Also, where should the polleniser trees be placed? The overall layout will be 4x4 meters. Cheers"
calin on Wednesday 25 July 2018
"The trees are self-fertile, which means they can pollinate themselves. The big factor in aiding pollination is to ensure you plant more than one tree, so the pollen between trees can blow across each other to improve the pollination rate. What you have planned will ensure this. You only need one variety of tree. There is no need for multiple varieties or compatible species."
Ben Vanheems on Tuesday 31 July 2018
"Hi from Victoria, Australia I have three bushes which were 5ft tall when we acquired our property 20 years ago. They are about 8ft apart. I have pruned them to keep them at about 5/6 ft. Recently I have been advised that they are hazelnut bushes but I have never seen any nuts. We are just coming out of a cold wet winter (there have been a few frosts) and the bushes have no leaves. I have just had a look at the bushes and have seen the small red flowers on the buds. However there are no catkins except for a couple of dried up brown ones that were left on the bushes after leaf drop last Autumn. Seems to me that male and female flowers occur at different times of the year. Any thoughts/suggestions?"
Trevor on Sunday 19 August 2018
"Hi Trevor. I'm afraid I can't offer any suggestions for this. The male and female flowers should occur at the same time, to enable pollination to occur successfully. Your bushes are probably close enough to enable good cross-pollination too. Sorry I can't be of more help on this one."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 20 August 2018
"Have a hazelnut tree produces a lot of nuts but they are empty inside Help ..I have only one tree is that my problem . Louie"
Louis Napolitano on Thursday 27 September 2018
"SO, we're approaching colder weather and eventually Winter!! Brrr! HOW do I protect my Hazel Nut plants during winter? I cannot call them trees yet as they did not grow much this season, but, I don't want frost and freezing to kill them off either. Some are still under one foot tall. Thanks!"
Jesse Glessner on Friday 28 September 2018
"Hi Louis. It could be, as you suggest, that there's only one hazel tree. They can self-pollinate but always do better if there's more than one. If it's very sheltered it could be that the pollen isn't blowing around sufficiently for pollination either - though I think this is probably unlikely."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 1 October 2018
"Hi Jesse. Hazel trees are very hardy, so you don't need to protect them from the frost. They'll be just fine!"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 1 October 2018
"I have spent a great deal of time in Asti, Italy where hazelnuts are native. It has inspired me to plant them back home in California. My only concern is the persistent gopher problem I have. Is it possible to start the trees in gopher cages (as I do nearly everything else). I want to give them a chance to establish themselves "
Natalie on Thursday 4 October 2018
"Hi Natalie. Yes, give the trees any protection you can until they have got well underway and are beginning to establish. I'm not familiar with the persistence, ingenuity or strength of gophers, but if they are particularly active you may like to consider a larger but equally sturdy cage until the plants are strong enough to fend for themselves. That said, hazel is very tough and grows really fast, so you should hopefully free of any nightmare gopher-related scenarios. Good luck!"
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 4 October 2018
"Hi, I’m Cassidy and I thought of a way do the squirrels to not get to the hazelnuts. You could but the plant in a pot in a greenhouse, and put in some fans so the pollen could be able to reach the female flowers. I hope this works!!"
Cassidy on Saturday 3 November 2018
"Thanks for the suggestion Cassidy. I think hazelnuts are best grown outdoors, where they can get enough cold during the winter. Netting could work to protect smaller trees. Then when the tree has reached maturity and is cropping well, hopefully there would be enough nuts for both squirrels and gardener."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 5 November 2018
"This may or may not help with your little rodents. I did this to keep deer away from my fruit trees. One person told me to chip away at a cake of "Irish Spring" soap around my trees for protection. Another person told me to collect my own urine in a gallon jar and put that around the trees. I did both. CAUTION: IF you collect the urine make sure the jar is tightly sealed after every input. By the time the jar gets filled the odor is very string."
Jesse Glessner on Monday 5 November 2018
"Thanks for sharing these tips Jesse. Urine is surprisingly useful - it can also be sprayed on trees as a winter wash (when the leaves are absent, in winter). Apparently it helps to control overwintering pests."
Ben Vanheems on Tuesday 6 November 2018
"Hello Ben, Thank you for regularly checking and replying to your post; it is most helpful. I am interested in forming a short allee of hazel. Perhaps by planting two opposing rows of three trees more closely spaced than would be ideal if planted solely for nut production, and with three meters separating the rows? Their propensity to sucker and bushy habit would seem that they might form a dense informal allee. Previously I have grown hazels in colder-winter areas of the US, now I am gardening in the more moderate USDA zone 9A of the French Charente Maritime. I see plants sold here at nurseries in Autumn so assume these may be varieties more successfully adapted to a cool, but not cold, winter. Even with reduced nut production I imagine the lovely crenulated foliage of summer and attractive late winter catkins would make a lovely addition to the garden. Thoughts or suggestions would be most welcome. Thank you."
JB on Sunday 11 November 2018
"Hi JB. I say go for it, definitely! The varieties sold locally would be the best to choose, as obviously they'll be the likeliest to thrive in your climate. A pleasingly symmetrical, though slightly loose-at-the-edges alley of hazel would look sublime, especially in late winter when the catkins are out. What a fantastic idea!"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 12 November 2018
"Hi Benedict, as an expat living with her Serbian husband in the foothills of the Valjevo mountains, part of the Dolomite range, we live on very poor and rocky land. Our little farm has a grove of hazelnuts and I am amazed at how resilient they can be. We experience temperatures ranging in summer from 40C to below -28C and extreme drought to torrential rainstorms and deep snow during the seasons, however, the hazelnuts withstands the worst of it to bounce back and produce lots of nuts. This is just as well because we have lots of squirrels who take their share of both our walnuts and hazels. The biggest competitors by far are the rescue dogs we have. The battle commences when we sit down to shell our regular harvest of 5 to 6 kg per bush which equates to around 30 kg a year, The squirrels probably take a further 2 or 3 kg overall. The dogs help themselves from the ground or sit around and become a nuisance when we sit down to shell some at regular intervals during Winter. Some years nature takes a break and instead of the usual 40 kg of walnuts from our 4 trees we only get around 10kg and the same with the hazelnuts, this year for the first time in 20 years we didn't harvest any hazel at all only walnuts. This didn't coincide with any particular weather event. We know we will lose the walnuts if late frosts come because the walnut is very susceptible to this. We never feed the bushes and generally speaking the land is very poor but they seem to thrive regardless Save for a few damaged branches we rarely prune them but this year will have to because some of the older branches look as if they will soon break. This wonderful bounty of nuts is so easy to grow and yet in UK we always cut them back regarding them as a nuisance! Nice to read all these comments from all over the World, thank you so much"
amanda celar on Tuesday 11 December 2018
"How lovely to read your experiences of hazelnuts and walnuts Amanda - thanks for taking the time to share. 30kg of hazelnuts is incredible! What a real treat! Sorry to hear the hazelnuts took a break this year. Hopefully - and probably very likely - they will come back next year in branch-straining abundance! It's very interesting to read that they thrive on relatively poor soil and in such incredible extremes of weather. It just goes to show what incredibly hardy, resilient plants they are. Walnuts? You've tempted me to gently warm a few to toss into my lunchtime salad. Very good for the brain I've read too. Just what's needed when I have another GrowVeg blog article to write this afternoon! Keep up the good work over in Serbia. :-)"
Ben Vanheems on Tuesday 11 December 2018
"Brilliant article and posts - so generous of you sharing this information Ben, and of all the contributors too. We farm Pecans very successfully in the Kwa-Zulu Natal region of South Africa but I am now really keen to try Hazelnuts. we have a hot, not very humid summer (can reach 40'C) but winters are generally mild (and definitely becoming milder, sadly) and dry with occasional frosts. My question was going to be which climate the nuts need but after reading Amanda's Serbian experience, it would seem that our climate would suffice. Is there a website you could recommend for best planting practices....unless you could provide the info? What diseases are associated with Hazelnuts? Thanks again for your great blog."
Felicity Harty on Tuesday 5 February 2019
"Hi Felicity. Yes, hazelnuts are incredibly hardy and very versatile. The main problems associated with hazelnuts are rodents and birds, which can sometimes snap up the nuts before you can, though once they are well established there should be plenty of nuts for everyone, including the local wildlife! I'm not familiar with a specific website devoted to growing hazelnuts, so an additional online search may be the best option for very specific advice on growing them, particularly commercially. Hopefully our article will have offered a solid starting point, but please do let me know if you have any particular questions and I'll of course do my best to help."
Ben Vanheems on Tuesday 5 February 2019
"I would like to grow hazelnuts - they are the only cultivated nut that is practical to grow in Colorado. Squirrels here are such a problem that I will be building a large chicken wire enclosure for my garden (I'll bury the wire about 3 inches in the ground to prevent them digging under). I would like to grow a couple of fruit trees in the enclosure. Its possible to prune trees to be very small as long as you make them cleft about knee high. I will use the more vigorous non-dwarf trees as my family keeps losing their dwarfed tree in about a decade. To give the squirrels something else to think about I will grow a full size fruit tree outside the enclosure as far away from the garden as it can get. Hazelnuts will fit nicely in the enclosure, but there may be another solution for them... For the hazelnuts I am thinking of trying a idea from a permaculture website that may be very old. The huge problem with squirrels is that they bury food - so they can take everything in your garden. But with nuts you might be able to take advantage of this behavior. You can leave a 4"-6" closed-end PVC pipe on the ground near the trees and let the squirrels fill it with nuts. You can pull the nuts out of the pipe when it fills up and put it out again. People who do this either leave the squirrels about 15-20% of the nuts (squirrels harvest far more then they can eat), or put corn in the pipe at the end of the season. I might try peanuts and corn since winters are very cold here and I don't mind the peanut shells."
Ray on Sunday 9 June 2019
"Hi Ray. That's a really interesting idea re burying the PVC pipe. It will be genius if it works. Please do report back on how you get on with your hazelnuts and squirrel-proofing idea."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 10 June 2019
"Hi. I am in the UK and have a relatively small garden. I love fruit but I am a pensioner so I find some fruits rather expensive and to resolve this I gave over part of the garden to growing fruit. In the first couple of years I got a great crop of berries (Straw, Blue, Logan, Tay, Rasp) and currants (red, White and black) but then the squirrels found them and they look at my garden as their summer food source; not bad for some of my plants like raspberries and black currants but they really decimate my strawberries. However the squirrels have brought us presents in return as they buried their nuts in my garden and forgot about them so I now have three hazel plants growing. The oldest is in a large pot in a corner of the back garden and has never produced either catkins or nuts, there is also a baby that I found growing in my lawn this spring so have just transferred to a pot and may end up replanting it, and the third which started growing in my front shrub patch two or three years ago. This third Hazel is a vigorous and extremely prolific single stemmed tree as I cut down or pull up any runners that come up. Last year it produced two small clusters of nuts but this year it has produced a wonderful crop of nuts that I planned on leaving for the squirrels. I know very little about Hazels and I have found your post and some of the more positive comments extremely interesting and informative. For example it’s made me realise I need to move the one in the pot from being in the back of the garden to a more exposed position as there is no wind or air circulation where it is, which may account for its lack of nuts. Thank you."
Rita Simmonds on Sunday 23 June 2019
"Hi Rita. I'm so pleased that you found the article useful - thanks for letting us know. How lovely that the squirrels have offered you something in return - a fair exchange I think!"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 24 June 2019
"I purchased two 8" American Hazels (Corylus americana) off ebay about 4 years ago. They grow like the dickens! I prune them from time to time so they won't get over 8' tall and I thin the center somewhat for air flow. Seems the more you prune them, the more they like it. I read once where a person said they're so tough you could drive over them with a truck or cut 'em down to the quick and they'd come right back. After my experience with them, I have to agree with this analogy. In the years they've been growing, they haven't been attacked by fungus or insects. I've read where you don't need to fertilize, but I do with 12-12-12 every Spring and late Autumn. They are planted on the south side of the north fence on our property, so they get the full heat and humidity from our hot Kansas summers all day, and the freezing cold and snowy winters. They seem to enjoy it all with no complaints! When I purchased the two plants I wasn't sure if they're from different species. I understand you need to have two totally different species to get a good crop. So, I purchased a European variety (Corylus avellan) from a fellow in the UK last Autumn. It was about 8" tall when I planted it and has been slow to take off only growing about 6 -8" in 8 months. It looks healthy and I believe it will soon start it's upward movement. This past Winter there were a few catkins. That's about right as I've read it takes 5 -7 years before they start producing. If you want a very forgiving and very healthy tree nut, then go for it. Plant it out of the way if you can, but if you are limited in space, they'll still do good for you. Love and take care of one another. God Bless!! "
eighthof8 on Tuesday 25 June 2019
"Thanks for sharing your experiences with hazelnuts. And yes, they're incredibly hardy and forgiving plants. Well worth growing!"
Ben Vanheems on Tuesday 25 June 2019
"Hello, my husband and I have a very sentimental tree. The first trip outside our local area together we got some nuts in BC. He threw what we thought was a bad one in the garden, and 5 months later.... A tree started! We have grown this tree for the past 5 years in a container because we didn't want it in the ground because we didn't have a permanent home yet. We just moved to Ontario and the tree came with. It is flourishing and amazing! And this year...3 nuts appeared! The question: can we plant the nuts and build on the orchard we want from the same plant? We love this tree and right now are protecting it from the horrible Japanese Beetle. It will be in a greenhouse and protected but it will be planted in the ground and the greenhouse will be built around the tree. I would send a picture of I could. So can I plant the shoots, or nuts to get more trees? And we did this by accident. How do we actually plant the nuts properly?"
Amanda Berry on Friday 19 July 2019
"Hi Amanda. Congratulations on growing your hazelnut tree to the stage of productivity. How incredibly satisfying to have a tree that you've grown from seed like that! So, yes, you should be able to grow new hazelnuts from other nuts - as that's how it would work in nature of course. We haven't written a full article on this yet, but essentially you take the mature nuts (some of the earliest-to-mature nuts can be empty, so pick the later-maturing nuts if you have the choice). Put the nuts into a bucket of water - if they sink then they are good to go. If they float they are unlikely to produce a viable seedling. Sow the nuts into sandy soil if possible, pushing them into the ground a little so they make good contact with it. If mice are likely to be a problem - which they often are - it may be prudent to grow them in pots. Overwinter them in pots of pure sand. Then, in early spring, at the first sign of germination, pot each nut into its own container. The nuts and emergent seedling need to be about 2-3cm or one inch deep. Firm them in, water them well and keep them well watered. Protect pots at all costs from mice - using sturdy wire mesh that will deny them access. Water and weed the hazels as they grow and plant into the ground as soon as they are a decent enough size. You could try sowing them directly into the ground as you did before - just be wary of mice eating the nuts. But I would start them off in pots so you can keep a closer eye on them and better protect them."
Ben Vanheems on Wednesday 24 July 2019
"Hello! What a nice article, comments, and thoughtful responses! I hope you have ideas for a problem that's rather the opposite of most writers. We have a little farmhouse in Catalonia, high summer temps and coldish winters, a few degrees below 0. No squirrels but our big pests are boars. We have something like 18 hazel trees on a small patch of land that were there when we got the house. We would like to get rid of some of them to make room for growing other things, and prune the rest to make them as tree-like as possible (mostly an aesthetic choice, because the shape feels airier). We tried chopping down one tree so we could have a vegetable patch and it has sprouted right back up. And the other trees we pruned down so that the remaining branches were more than 1-1.5 m off the ground, and those too have tons of shoots around the base, so once again we have 18 very bushy hazelnut trees. Is there a way to get rid of a tree, and to keep the others tree shaped, or is that a losing battle? Gràcies! "
Visca on Friday 2 August 2019
"Does anyone know if hazelnut branches are good fodder for goats? Also, is it OK to prune them in the summer? Finally, is there any way to protect the catkins over the winter (zone 4) so they’ll be alive come spring? Thank-you."
Chris S in NY on Friday 2 August 2019
"Hola Visca! Hazels are perfect shrubs/trees for re-sprouting when cut back. The shoots you have got will probably long and straight - perfect for cutting as hazel poles for making bean teepees and other supports. To completely remove the tree you would either need to grub the majority of the roots out - which may necessitate heavy machinery or some sort of stump grinder. Or I believe there are poisons you can get to kill off any stump - which doesn't seem appealing if you want to grow other stuff afterwards. You could possibly try cutting them back as close to the ground as possible and then covering the stump in several thick layer of material that won't let any light in - to deprive them of what they need to grow. They will probably sprout back but in time, with perhaps more cutting, they will give up. I would imagine that for a tree shape you would need to start with a young bush in order to train a single stem up, from which you then allow shoots to grow to bush out further up the stem, at head height or whatever height you wish. If the shrubs you have are very bushy, it may be impossible to get to that point as they will be multi-stemmed by now."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 5 August 2019
"Hi Chris. I'm afraid I'm not sure about hazel as fodder for goats, so it will be interesting to see if anyone else can answer that question for you. Pruning is only recommended for the winter months, when the tree is dormant. Pruning in the summer will result in weaker growth. If you can wait until winter - preferably late winter - then the hazel will respond much better. Hazels are generally hardy done to zone 4, particularly the American (rather than European) hazels. Blooms can get damaged in extreme cold, resulting in crop loss. If your shrubs aren't enormous you could try covering them in a couple of layers of row cover to raise the temperature that critical few degrees beneath it."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 5 August 2019
"I had a lone hazelnut in London which produced a lovely crop. When I moved to the cou try I planted 3 bushes in the front garden, over 12 years ago and I've never had a single nut off any of them. Any suggestions appreciated"
John Ledbiry on Thursday 22 August 2019
"It could be any number of issues John. Are the bushes planted relatively close to each other to benefit from cross-pollination between them? Is the area heavily shaded? And do the bushes even produce flowers in the first place? It could simply be that they have been establishing themselves, though by year 12 they should almost certainly have been producing nuts. There is a chance, of course, that the local squirrel population is getting to the nuts before you are, though I imagine you'd notice whether or not this was happening."
Ben Vanheems on Friday 30 August 2019
"I live in zone 8 or 8a Louisiana i have been looking at hazel nut trees and chinquapin trees. Most of these trees come bare root. What chance do i have for a hazel nut tree. Most sure i can have the chinquapin tree. "
Gerald Davis on Sunday 19 January 2020
"Hi Gerald. Hazelnuts should grow in zone 8. You are about as far south as you can grow them."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 20 January 2020
"Ben, thank-you for keeping this valuable Hazelnut discussion going. I had asked previously, and since determined that Hazel leaves Are Safe for goats to eat, per the anglonubiangoatsociety. I could not find many references to hazel leaves used historically for this purpose - I think because there are pollarded trees like ash etc. better for that use. When I did find a reference, it was about fresh hazel cuttings for fodder for goats and rabbits - not as stored for winter. Can I also mention that there is interesting online info from the Canadian Industrial Hazelnut Industry - omafra. It details the treatments store-bought hazelnuts have received, and gives specifics about nut moisture and fungus etc.. Besides the data, the article is a reminder that the healthiest and freshest foods are those we can grow at home. "
chris in upstate ny on Monday 20 January 2020
"Hi Chris. Thanks for that helpful information, it's really appreciated. Yes, I think in times gone by livestock would have partly grazed on hedgerow/woodland edge plants too. So it doesn't surprise me that hazel leaves would have some value for goats and other ruminants."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 27 January 2020
"I wonder if hazelnuts will flourish in São Paulo, Brazil. And if so, which varietal would fare best here."
Sté on Tuesday 25 February 2020
"Hi Sté. Unfortunately it would be just to warm for them in São Paulo - they are more of a temperate crop."
Ben Vanheems on Wednesday 26 February 2020
"Thanks, Ben. I wonder if might be able to tell me what the causal problem is with warmth. Is it that fungal diseases flourish and that pest insects multiply quickly and attack, or is there something temperature-sensitive in the plant's physiology? "
Sté on Wednesday 26 February 2020
"I think the main reason is that they require. period of cold temperatures - vernalisation - in order to initiate flower formation. Without that they simply can’t produce any nuts."
Ben Vanheems on Wednesday 26 February 2020
"My favorite way to use hazelnuts are in biscotti, and Italian cookie. My wife and I raise ducks so we always have plenty of eggs. Those two together are great combination. Easy to make and the last well in the cookie jar. I bought hazelnut plants three years ago, they just haven't grown that much, the area had them in, the soil is very heavy. This year I transplanted them into a more well-trained area so I'm hoping for big things."
Tom on Thursday 26 March 2020
"Hi Tom. Here's hoping you do indeed get a big crop. I absolutely love biscotti - so I'm with you on that one."
Ben Vanheems on Friday 27 March 2020
"1) If you have too many rodents you can try building an owl box and placing pole perches. I built a box using a plan from owlpages, and am hopeful to get barred owls. Perches might also be used in the day by hawks. Both birds also eat grasshoppers. (The downside is that they do eat amphibians and small birds). There needs to be a water source nearby. 2) I’d like to mention also that hazelnut plants have a lot of variations in form. I have purchased 4 hazel bareroot plants over the years. “Precocious” became like a small tree with huge leaves,; “FingerLakes Superhardy” became like a stemmy and leafy shrub, “Skinner” is petite, and the last one (name unknown) has fuzzy hairy stems. Japanese beetles greatly prefer the Precocious leaves. "
Chris in NY on Friday 27 March 2020
"Hello again Ben! New name but the same country…. We have not made any progress with our hazelnut project, because we ran into a legal problem. Turns out the import of any planting material (whether seed or vegetative) of hazels into Eswatini is prohibited. This is stipulated in an old plant protection act of 1982. There is no-one in the Government (or indeed the whole country) who knows why. All that the authorities can say is: we will have to do a risk assessment. Big gap between saying and doing, though. So, do you, or indeed any of your readers, know of any other country where this is the case, and if so, why? We would love to find a way around this, e.g. maybe the offending bug or lurgy may in the meantime already have entered the country anyway, or there may be new resistant cultivars, or anything else. Looking forward to any news! "
Harry van den Burg on Saturday 28 March 2020
"Hi Chris in NY. Thanks for your comment there. Didn't know that about the Japanese beetles - worth noting! "
Ben Vanheems on Monday 30 March 2020
"Hi Harry. How very frustrating for you! I know there are strict restrictions on the import of plant matter into a lot of other countries around the world, for example Australia. Unfortunately I can't advise on your situation as to how to persuade the authorities as to the advantages of your project. Hopefully gentle but persuasive persistence might pay off! I would love to know if anyone else might have any ideas for you though Harry. Good luck with this- keep trying!"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 30 March 2020
"Concerning Japanese Beetles, I was told by a Purdue person working on their "Doctor" plant series that I made a mistake in setting out Japanese Beetle traps to pull them off of my Little Linden trees. He said I would attract every Japanese Beetle withing a 0.6 mile radius. Well, I probably did, but I kept an eye on the traps and emptied them twice so maybe I did everyone in that 0.6 mile a FAVOR!! Those traps have worked for me a couple of times in past years - very efficient, although I don't know how the reproduce, nor if they've left the next generation nearby."
Jesse Glessner on Tuesday 31 March 2020
"Can one grow vegetables under hazelnut trees? "
Maria on Thursday 9 April 2020
"You could grow vegetables underneath the hazelnut, as long as enough light can reach them. You may need to water a little more often too. I would stick with fairly shallow rooting vegetables, to avoid disturbing the roots of the hazelnut too. Most salads and leafy greens are likely to work well."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 9 April 2020
"We planted a Corylus Avellana Contorta in the garden several years ago. This year for the first time we have found what we believe to be seedlings in several places in the garden. Could these have grown from nuts dropped by squirrels? Will these seedlings be contorted as they don't appear to be at present?"
Jane Wilson on Thursday 28 May 2020
"Hi Jane. Yes, they are likely to be seedlings from nuts planted by squirrels. This is something that happens a lot in my own garden. They could be seedlings of 'Contorta', but then there's also a reasonable chance they could be seedlings of other hazels, from nuts sourced elsewhere. The RHS recommends propagating 'Contorta' by grafting, which implies that simply sowing the nuts means the plants won't come true to type. I would suggest, therefore, that there is a good chance that the seedlings sprouting up won't have the same corkscrew formation as their parent plant."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 1 June 2020
"Ben: six years ago I planted 12 hazelnut bushes - they have grown well. However, I have yet to harvest any nuts. I am starting to think I was sold bad material. Bought them from a grower in Canton, MN, thinking they would be appropriate since I am also in MN. How long does it take for bushes to mature and provide nuts. The bushes are good size - some are over six feet high. Is there any way I can check what I have to know if they are OK. Please also reply by e mail. thank yoy."
James Garbarini on Sunday 21 June 2020
"Hi James. I would have thought your hazelnuts should have started to produce nuts by now. Maybe this will be the year. Sometimes they can be reluctant to produce nuts on very rich and fertile soil, which can encourage leafy growth at the expense of the catkins and nuts. Have they produced their catkins yet? If so it could be that the nuts are being eaten by wildlife before you get to pick them, though I suspect you'd notice that if that was the case. I don't know how you'd check the plants themselves. If they are hazelnuts and they have grown successfully, then they should eventually flower and fruit. It may be worth checking back with the nursery to check what you were sold."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 22 June 2020
"I'm from Southern Tasmania (Australia) where we have hard frosts in winter, which don't seem to worry the bushes at all. Summer temperatures may go to 35C and are tolerated well. Far from growing mine in a poor sandy soil.mine are in a heavy, rich, deep, red clay and seem to be loving it. I have both green and bronze-leaved varieties, grown from transplanted suckers and from seed, both being donated by friends. The only pests that I have encountered are an aphid whose exudate attracts wasps, and Currawong birds which have found the male catkins to be good tucker. I may have to try suspended CDs to scare them away. I've been warned by a friend that Brushtailled Possums will destroy the bushes by climbing on the slender branches and breaking them. They grow to 7.5Kg here and short of using cages, I don't know what I will do if this happens. Suggestions will be welcome."
Adrian Hunt on Wednesday 1 July 2020
"I'm from Southern Tasmania (Australia) where we have hard frosts in winter, which don't seem to worry the bushes at all. Summer temperatures may go to 35C and are tolerated well. Far from growing mine in a poor sandy soil.mine are in a heavy, rich, deep, red clay and seem to be loving it. I have both green and bronze-leaved varieties, grown from transplanted suckers and from seed, both being donated by friends. The only pests that I have encountered are an aphid whose exudate attracts wasps, and Currawong birds which have found the male catkins to be good tucker. I may have to try suspended CDs to scare them away. I've been warned by a friend that Brushtailled Possums will destroy the bushes by climbing on the slender branches and breaking them. They grow to 7.5Kg here and short of using cages, I don't know what I will do if this happens. Suggestions will be welcome."
Adrian Hunt on Wednesday 1 July 2020
"Hi Adrian. I've very fond of Tassie, having spent two months at the Hobart Botanical Gardens when I was younger. Great to hear from someone in Tasmania. Anyway, in answer to your question, it would be hard to prop up all the branches, or at least labour-intensive. I would be inclined to see how it goes and, if they do appear to become a problem, maybe then act on it. You never know, they may not prove an issue. As to what to do, I can't imagine any other solution other than physically keeping them off plants using some sort of cage or netting arrangement."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 6 July 2020
"Please tell me where I can research Hazelnut varieties? I thank you for all you thoughtful answers to so many questions."
Samuel Kaymen on Thursday 30 July 2020
"Hi Samuel. It depends on where you are. I would, as a starting point, research the catalogs and websites of local nurseries and garden centres. This is the best way of discovering what will grow local to you."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 3 August 2020
"Ben: I think I found the reason for "no nuts". I planted my bushes on the end of my sewage mound - they are probably getting so much nutrient they are producing leaves and branches like mad - but two not on the mound have nut clusters, so it isn't a total loss. Is there any thing I can do with the other eight other than prune them and hope for the best?"
Jim Garbarini on Tuesday 4 August 2020
"Hi Jim. Yes, that is likely the reason for the lack of nuts. All those nutrients will be encouraging prodigious growth at the expense of nut production. If the bushes are to stay where they are then they will always have access to these nutrients, and so be prone to lacklustre nut production. You could try pruning them, but I suspect they'll just come back good and strong as ever. Are you perhaps able to dig them up and relocate them? If so, I would try doing this at the end of the season, once they have shed their leaves for winter."
Ben Vanheems on Tuesday 4 August 2020
"I have been giving my bushes urine as a fertiliser (don't ask where I get it) and they are flowering abundantly, so I don't think that too much nitrogen is hurting them."
Adrian Hunt on Tuesday 4 August 2020
"That's interesting Adrian. I wonder if there's a threshold for soil nitrogen that triggers foliage over flowers? It's handy to know your experiences, thanks."
Ben Vanheems on Wednesday 5 August 2020
"How much urine are you using, Adrian? It is clearly not too much as it is, but like Ben I am interested to get an idea about a possible threshold. What is your soil like? Have you ever had it analysed?"
Harry van den Burg on Wednesday 5 August 2020
"I got American Hazelnut bushes from Arbor Day Foundation not quite 3 yrs ago and they are 6', maybe a bit more. Growing in Tn. clay mix soil and they're doing great, surprisingly, from what I've just read (thankyou!!) Thing is, I just noticed they have tight little catkins sporadically on each tree. It's Sept 2, isn't it late for that stuff to start? We live in mid Tn about a county away from Ky border. Lol, I got so excited had to start looking up articles and found yrs!"
Vikki Hallen on Thursday 3 September 2020
"Hi Vikki - that does seem unseasonably late/early for catkins to appear. Sometimes nature does strange things when the weather has been erratic. I'd say let's see what happens - the cold of winter may shock the plants back into a more normal pattern of flowering, with catkins early next spring."
Ben Vanheems on Friday 4 September 2020
RAYMOND L. PICKLES on Friday 2 October 2020
"Re urine as a fertilizer. My own output is shared amongst 5 bushes. They are healthy and have flowered well, this season. What the crop will be like remains to be seen. The depredations of the Currawongs which ate many catkins may well have limited cross pollination I mulch them with coffee grounds which seem to suit them. The soil is heavy, red clay with little topsoil. hence the coffee mulch. They'll get a compost dressing in a couple of weeks."
Adrian Hunt on Saturday 10 October 2020
"Hi Mr Pickles. It sounds like your hazel my be affected by the hazelnut weevil, which can eat up the nut to leave just the shell. The best way to defeat them is to scratch over the soil (where they overwinter) to expose the grubs to the cold air and insect-eating birds. Repeat several times over the winter to be sure you've got rid of all the grubs."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 12 October 2020
"Hi Adrian. Thanks for sharing your experiences there. 'Homemade' urine can be very useful for all sorts of purposes!"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 12 October 2020
"Part of the reason I want to plant Hazelnut trees is I love the squirrels. I question I have is if I plant enough trees will there be enough Hazelnuts for the squirrel and a few left for me if I wait until they are ripe?"
Edward L Cole on Friday 23 October 2020
"Hi Edward. It depends how many trees you plant and how keen/big the squirrel population is in your area! But yes, there should be enough for man and squirrel if you plant enough trees."
Ben Vanheems on Saturday 24 October 2020
"I planted a few hazelnut plants from Arbor Day about 10 years ago, and only two survived. Only in the past 2 years did we get some nuts, but very few. It appears that both plants catkins shed pollen maybe a month earlier (January) before the female flowers opened up. With only 2 plants timing it seems you cannot expect perfect timing. Next year, I hope to collect the pollen, store frozen, and then cross-pollinate when its time."
Emma Wren on Sunday 28 March 2021
"Hi Emma. Best of luck for next year. It will be interesting to learn how your collection and use of the pollen goes - please be sure to report back."
Ben Vanheems on Sunday 28 March 2021
"I have Two hazelnut shrubs male and female. the female has been producing well for a few years. I just looked this morning May 30, 2021 and the MALE is setting pods as is the female. is this usual? I have not observed the male at any time setting pods."
Rosemary Stanley on Sunday 30 May 2021
"Hazelnuts have both male and female flowers on the same shrub, so both shrubs should be producing nuts. I guess one of them was just slower off the start."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 7 June 2021
"Many years ago, I bought two hazelnut trees (two commercial varieties), and planted them here in Virginia in the eastern USA. They lived and produced for quite a few years before declining and dying of blight. One tree had large sized nuts (but not many), while the other tree had moderate sized nuts (but more of them). I dug up more than half a dozen seedlings from them and planted them at another nearby location, along with some new purchased trees (Jefferson, Eta, Epsilon, Zeta). Now (11 years later), the bought varieties are 15 feet tall and 15 feet wide (multiple trunks) and have been blooming moderately, but yielding no more than a nut or two. My seedlings (on average) started bearing very well and much earlier, but with small nuts (yet still larger than wild hazelnuts), and their trees were smaller and bushier with more trunks. Most of them look healthy, but there was one that has just now died (probably blight) after having grown tall like its parents and like my bought varieties (it also was not inclined to produce nuts, similar to my bought ones). Obviously genetics is playing a large role in the differences in productivity that I am seeing."
David Kipps on Saturday 11 September 2021
"I think genetics will have a big part to play. It's amazing how much variance there can be, even within varieties that are meant to be identical. Though of course site, soul, aspect etc. will have a lot to play too. Nature and nurture!"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 13 September 2021
"Dear Ben - Thank you for your note to Mr Pickles on thick, empty-shelled nuts. I was just cracking nuts today with great effort to see only a bit of webbing in most (is that from the weevil?) or a very tiny nut -- maybe a 1/4 inch in diameter. Our American Hazel nuts trees were from Arbor Day 10-20 years ago. One ripens end of August; the other late in September. We also have surprise hazelnuts growing 100' away in one direction and 50' away on the other side of the house. We are southern New England. Do you think our "no nut" problem is weevils? What about our tiny nuts? Thanks for this service!!"
Mary Ann Julian on Monday 20 September 2021
"Hi Mary Ann. It seems that the hazelnut weevil may be confined to Europe. In the USA, however, there is a filbertworm, which can enter nuts to feed, leaving behind a frass (poo). I can't leave website links here, but Oregon State University has an excellent identification guide available online. Search: Hazelnut Pest and Beneficial Insects An Identification Guide. Otherwise I'm not sure what the issue could be with your trees. Worth further online research though - and do share your conclusions if you come to any."
Ben Vanheems on Tuesday 21 September 2021
"Hi I live in Perth West Australia, Ive bought two bare roots that have been in about 4 weeks, a heap of nuts in the fridge which I put in the freezer for about an hour every now and then, about half a dozen n a paper coffee cup and a spare one in a small kiddies paddle pool utilised for gardening. My baby has started to grow. Roots are growing on the cuttings I took from the plants I bought but I fear they won't survive the growing part. However in our winter in June this may be more successful. My favourite nut, wish I had done this so much earlier."
Vinnie Heffernan on Thursday 30 September 2021
"Wow Vinnie - that's a great result! I hope they continue to grow well for you."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 30 September 2021
"Hi Ben, I'm in Northern Tasmania and have 4 beautiful trees (3 female, 1 male) they have been in now for around 5-6 years, and never been pruned. They are in a sheltered fenced open garden. Last year they produced a massive crop and we were thrilled. However this year nothing??? We did have an extremely wet winter last year, could this be the problem. Best regards"
Cherie Ritchie on Tuesday 11 January 2022
"I have a great and permanent way of keeping squirrels away from hazelnuts. 22 mag. hollow point!"
Joyce Sheridan on Wednesday 6 April 2022
"I got my Hazel Nut 'trees" (very small plants) from Arbor Day and they still seem to be stunted! They grow very little over the three years that I've had them. Any ideas on how to SHOCK them into growing more? Watering, fertilizers, etc.??"
Jesse Glessner on Wednesday 6 April 2022
"Hi Cherie. Sorry for the late reply. But just to say that I suspect your hazels are having a rest after such a bumper year the year before. This is what's called biennial bearing - when the plant rests after a big crop the previous year. It's common with fruit and nut trees."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 7 April 2022
"Hi Jesse. Hazels actually do best on soil that isn't too rich, which will encourage foliage over nuts. I wonder if the trees are struggling in hot summers? They prefer cooler climates and struggle with dry periods and high temperatures. Keep the well watered and that will definitely help. "
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 7 April 2022
"Thanks Ben. These are on a 'high spot' in my back yard and it is a pretty heavy clay soil. I'll have to make sure that they get watered weekly this year then. I'll put that on my calendar of things to do."
Jesse Glessner on Thursday 7 April 2022
"You're welcome Jesse. Yes, in that case I think a bit more watering will do the trick."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 7 April 2022
"Hello, I'm in Yorkshire U.K. I bought some bark chippings and used them for mulch. About two months ago I found a nut growing amongst the bark. I transferred it to a 3.5 inch pot (its very tiny still). However it has survived and has just started to produce a tiny leaf. Having stared hard at it I believe its hazel of some kind. The hard husk which fell away, was a longer shape rather than round. So I'm assuming Filbert. What are the chances it could mature enough to produce nuts. Can you tell if a tree is self fertilizing."
Caroline Frances Haywood on Sunday 15 May 2022
"Hi Caroline. I also have hazel saplings popping up all over my garden thanks to the squirrels. There's no reason why your sapling wouldn't mature into an adult plant that produces nuts - it may just take some time. It may well be self-fertilising, but if there are other hazels nearby that would definitely improve the chances of pollination. "
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 19 May 2022
"Really enjoyed reading your article! We have Filbert trees in our yard here in Oregon and the kids (and squirrels) love them. "
Jason on Friday 5 August 2022
"I grow hazelnuts in the UK and have bushes of five different named varieties. They seem happy with my rich, fertile soil. There was a very good crop in 2020 and a good one in 2021. Enough nuts to store for 10-12 months, or almost until the next harvest. The 2022 yield looks slightly better than 2020 ... hopefully. Most years, I escape much squirrel damage by picking the nuts as soon as I see the first squirrel. However, how much of the crop do I sacrifice by picking slightly early, and is it worth a few days' or even a week's losses to get a slightly higher yield per nut? In effect, I want to maximise yield (measured as dry matter.) If the nuts are picked as soon as I see a squirrel in the garden, the kernel appears to fill the shell and a third or half of the shells part readily from the husk. But the rest are more of an effort. The kernel shrinks significantly on drying. This suggests to me that in an ideal squirrel-free world I should have left the nuts on the trees a week or so more, until they all started falling. The kernels of purchased hazelnuts - which are mostly grown in Turkey - do not seem to have shrunk on drying. Does this mean that in Turkey they were able to ripen hazelnuts fully on the tree? In most years this isn't possible in the UK. "
David on Sunday 14 August 2022
"Totally new to hazelnutting. Recently moved onto an old family property and happened upon some bushes no one knew were there - both beaked and American. So stoked! I've been reading and finding great articles on what to do with them, but everyone seems to gloss over what to do once they've been de-husked (shucked? lol) and are still in the drying stage. It is normal to have a bunch with worms and holes (obviously discard those), and just keep the rest, or should I consider them all contaminated? And how do you know when they're dry enough and ready for storage or roasting? Thanks for any tips! "
RJ Smith on Saturday 20 August 2022
" Off Subject in a way: I had a tree leaf and nut and didn't know what they were. I found a FREE App to download that identifies plants.It is free because the collect your plant data for their archive. I just wonder if the App would be able to show the 5 different varieties of poster "David on Sunday 14 August 2022"? And the App would be helpful to people like poster "RJ Smith on Saturday 20 August 2022" when they are interested in knowing what plant species is growing on their property. I'm going to try this on my fruit trees and Hazel Nut trees when things slow down. It is canning season here in Indiana and I'm in it up to my 'ears' (pun intended for sweet corn)."
Jesse Glessner on Sunday 21 August 2022

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