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US(OR): Pollination issues make for light hazelnut crop

A warm, dry summer sped up this year's hazelnut harvest in Oregon. Volume was also down because of pollination problems earlier in the year.

“Production is down about 30 or 35 percent from the estimate at the beginning of the season,” said Joan Firestone of Firestone Farms. “The blossoms didn't pollinate the way we expected they would, so kernels didn't develop and nuts didn't come into maturity.” Warm, dry conditions throughout the summer also made for a speedy season. A significant amount of harvesting usually takes place through October and into November during a normal season, but, this year, picking wrapped up last month. That's contributed to tight supplies.

“Starting out, prices were down from 2014, but prices have come up as there's been more news of the shortage,” said Firestone. “It still hasn't been a banner year, price-wise, like it was last season, but there has been some upward movement on in-shell nuts.” The market for kernels will depend on how Turkey shapes up, which is the largest supplier of kernels in the world.

Kernels popular at home, in-shell nuts popular abroad
Consumption of hazelnuts has grown in the United States over the years, but a lot of the growth has been driven by the use of hazelnuts in snacks and chocolates. Those kinds of value-added products use kernels, so the market for kernels is growing domestically.

“Most consumers have gone away from cracking nuts, so we've had to adapt some of our marketing to satisfy that need,” explained Firestone. “But in other areas, like China, they process hazelnuts much like pistachios. So there is still a strong in-shell market.”

For more information:
Joan Firestone
Firestone Farms
+1 503 864 3515

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