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Oregon hazelnut farmers ready for harvest

The Oregon hazelnut harvest is about to kick off for another season, and growers are preparing for a moderate season. The timing of this year's harvest is on track with long term trends, which has not been the case in recent years. 

Lucas Schmidt, of Hazelnut Growers of Oregon, explained, "We're around 1 ½ to 2 weeks away from the yearly harvest. That is a little behind schedule compared to the last few years, but it's actually close to the traditional timeline for commencement of the harvest. This year, we anticipate the harvest to last between late September through to the end of October." 

The hazelnut harvest is dependent on weather conditions. "Hazelnuts require a certain number of consecutive degree days above a certain temperature in order for them to fully develop and be ready for harvest," said Schmidt. "Once that happens, the hazelnuts simply fall of the tree and we then come with machinery to sweep them up. This spring was cooler than usual, so although we've had hot and dry conditions in the last month or two, those degree days have not yet counted up."

Lower yield expected this year
Oregon is the chief producer of hazelnuts in the United States, but this year's harvest is expected to be lower than last year. "The USDA just announced the results of their survey and it showed that the annual yield will be down on last year. Last year, there were 44,000 in-shell tons out of Oregon, whereas this year the estimate is pointing to 36,000 in-shell tons. However, we won't know the actual figure until the end of November" continued Schmidt. 

"A big year is almost always followed by a smaller one – going back to 1992 the Oregon crop has not been up two years in a row. Last year the Barcelona and Ennis varieties - which have historically been the two dominant Oregon varieties – pushed out a bumper crop and appear to be stressed this season as a result."

Market outlook
While yield is set to be down on last year, the market position for Oregon hazelnut growers is looking strong. Schmidt explained that Oregon still has a firm hold on the in-shell market and that there is upward pressure on prices. "There is not intense competition from other origins for the in-shell market and prices are look to firming to recent norms. 

Earlier this year, around springtime, the market price for a pound was hovering between $1.40-$1.55, whereas the forward estimates for this season are from $1.55-$1.60 and up," Schmidt said. "In Turkey, everything is very quiet right now because they are yet to come into harvest themselves. But they are estimating a very big crop this year. Along with this, the Lira has been weak against the US dollar. Most of their business, however, is in kernel, which is not as big product for Oregon producers who deliver a lot of tonnage to the in-shell market.."
For more information: 
Lucas Schmidt
Hazelnut Growers of Oregon
Tel: +1 503 648 4176

Publication date: 9/12/2017
Author: Dennis M. Rettke
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


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