Oregon growers are rebounding after a devastating ice storm in February 2021 that damaged hazelnut trees throughout the Willamette Valley. Despite the damage from the storm, the growers saw a record harvest in 2021, in large part because seed crop farmers who transitioned to hazelnuts saw their first harvests.
The ice storm bent hazelnut trees to the ground, cracking bark and splitting trunks, but after temperatures warmed, many rebounded, springing back and continuing to grow nuts. Others needed to be cut back or removed entirely. In some cases, the loss of the tree canopy allowed more sunlight into the orchards, increasing the nut yield.
According to Nik Wiman, an orchard specialist at Oregon State University, newer varieties of hazelnut trees proved more resilient in the ice storm as well as to diseases. Farmers who had to replant old orchards destroyed by the ice will need to wait for the harvest as the trees mature slowly.
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