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Whether you call them hazelnuts or filberts, you just know that you love their distinctive taste. But what you may not know is how easy these trees are to grow. In fact, Rutgers University notes that hazelnuts need virtually no watering, spraying for insects, or treating for diseases. But we'll go a step further. We have the hazelnut that is preferred over all others '– the Jefferson Hazelnut (Corylus avellana 'Jefferson'). Jefferson is so renowned for its low-maintenance qualities plus its heavy yields that it's the hazelnut tree of choice among commercial breeders. And now you can grow it right in your own backyard! It's a Huge Improvement Over Other Hazelnut Trees In a "nutshell," Jefferson Hazelnut trees have bigger harvests, compact growth habits, and unbelievable disease resistance. And all these qualities don't compromise the taste of the nuts, which are rich and buttery. Another improvement over other types of hazelnut trees is that Jefferson nuts fill the shells. This is significant because other types of hazelnuts lead to a disappointing harvest when you crack the shells and find them poorly filled with tiny nuts. Many times, other hazelnuts produce "blanks," which are full-sized shells with no nuts inside. One of the breeding goals of Jefferson Hazelnut was to produce nuts that filled their shells completely '– a goal that was met and surpassed! The Jefferson Hazelnut Produces the Best Quality Compared to other Native Species There's a native species of hazelnut (Corylus americana), which grows in the northern and eastern regions of the U.S. and Canada. And even though the native hazelnut tree also produces nuts, they are much smaller than and not as flavorful as European hazelnuts (Corylus avellana). Jefferson is a type of European hazelnut that is the result of crossbreeding the best genetic traits from numerous types of hazelnuts into one outstanding tree. The Go-To Replacement for Inferior Hazelnut Trees Producing 99 percent of the commercial hazelnut crop in the U.S., Oregon is the undisputed leader in this market. Plant breeders and growers in that state know a thing or two about hazelnuts, particularly because of the renowned research program at Oregon State University. The Jefferson Hazelnut tree is the result of research, breeding, and testing by the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station, which introduced this superior cultivar in 2009. The leading contender at that time was the Barcelona Hazelnut, which was highly susceptible to disease, and the Jefferson Hazelnut was initially bred as a disease-resistant replacement for Barcelona. Extremely High Disease and Insect Resistance Hazelnut trees were originally so damaged by Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB) that commercial production of these nuts came to a screeching halt. This severely incapacitating fungal disease began killing trees and didn't let up until entire orchards were lost. But Jefferson Hazelnut is so resistant to EFB disease that you'll never have to use protective fungicidal sprays on your tree, according to researchers from Oregon State University. There's another common problem with other types of hazelnut trees '– a pesky insect called a bud mite. But you won't have to spray chemicals to control this problem either because Jefferson Hazelnut is also resistant to bud mites! Exceptional Drought Tolerance You won't find too many fruit or nut trees that are as easy to grow as Jefferson Hazelnut. In fact, many fruit and nut trees are very labor-intensive, requiring an ongoing spray regimen for diseases and insects, and lots of irrigation. But if you can keep it watered well during its first couple of years during establishment, Oregon State University offers an almost unheard-of care regimen '– after the first two years, "irrigation is not needed" . High Yields and a Long Production Life Jefferson Hazelnut trees begin bearing at a young age '– only 3 to 4 years old. And once they start producing nuts, strong>they'll continue bearing for up to 50 years! Each mature tree will reward you with up to 25 pounds of hazelnuts, which is a bumper crop for such a compact-sized tree. The Perfect Fit for Small Landscapes Jefferson Hazelnut trees are landscape-friendly deciduous trees for small yards. Because their mature height is typically 15 feet or shorter, you can easily use them in your compact landscape design without worrying that they will eventually outgrow your small yard. You'll need to have room in your yard for at least two trees, because Jefferson needs a "pollen partner," called a pollenizer. Another Hazelnut Tree Needed to Lend a Helping Hand Two hazelnut trees must cross-pollinate each other to produce nuts because the male pollen produced on a tree is not compatible with the female flowers on that tree. A successful pollenizer for Jefferson Hazelnut must have these three characteristics: 1. It's a different cultivar. You'll need two different types of hazelnut trees, not two Jefferson Hazelnut trees. 2. It has the same bloom time. Pollination can occur only when the flowers on both trees are open at the same time to allow the transfer of pollen. 3. It has resistance to Eastern Filbert Blight disease. Even though Jefferson Hazelnut is resistant to this disease, you wouldn't want to grow a pollenizer tree that could potentially be infected with this disease and die, which would leave your Jefferson Hazelnut without a partner for cross-pollination. • Cultivars that are recommended: 'Eta,' 'Gamma,' and 'Theta.' • Cultivars that are not recommended: 'Delta,' 'Epsilon,' 'Sacajawea,' and 'Zeta.' Ornamental Appeal Because of its compact size, rounded shape, and tidy nature, Oregon State University recommends the Jefferson Hazelnut tree as a lovely ornamental selection for any edible landscape design. This is a strategy for maximizing the impact of your landscape by combining plants that are both ornamental and edible into your overall design. Even when it's not yielding hazelnuts for a fall harvest, the Jefferson Hazelnut tree is a beautiful addition to your yard! Ease of Harvesting You won't have to use a helicopter to shake the hazelnuts from trees as some commercial orchardists do! Beginning in September and continuing through mid-October, an average of 80 percent of Jefferson Hazelnuts fall naturally from the trees at the perfect peak of maturity. All you have to do is gather them from the ground underneath your tree! You'll Go Nuts over These Nutritional Benefits Dr. Frank Hu, Harvard School of Public Health professor of nutrition and epidemiology, is also the co-author of a scientific study of the health benefits of eating nuts. Among his findings, Dr. Hu's study noted that "people who ate nuts every day lived longer, healthier lives than people who didn't eat nuts." He published his research in the New England Journal of Medicine, which also includes these statistics about nuts: • They contain healthy unsaturated fats, lots of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. • They raise "good" (HDL) cholesterol levels and lower "bad" (LDL) cholesterol levels. • They lower blood pressure. Low Maintenance for High Rewards Jefferson Hazelnut is a perennial in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5 through 8, where it grows best in climates with mild winters and cool summers. • Sun. Full sun '– at least 6 hours each day '– will promote optimal growth and health. • Soil. Your Jefferson Hazelnut tree will grow best when planted on soil that is rich in organic matter and well-draining. A soil pH of 6.5 to 7.0 is ideal. • Water. Keep your tree watered deeply during its first two years, which is the most critical time for developing its strong root system. In subsequent years, natural rainfall will typically supply sufficient water for a Jefferson Hazelnut tree. (If your climate experiences a period of extreme drought, your tree will benefit if you keep it watered during this time.) • Fertilizer. Typically, the most important nutrients for hazelnut trees are nitrogen, potassium, and boron. But you don't want to make a random guess of how much and what type of fertilizer is needed for your tree. Recommendations are best when based on the results of a soil fertility test, which your local Cooperative Extension Service can perform for you at a nominal fee. Hazelnut Fun Facts • The Jefferson Hazelnut tree is in the Birch plant family (Betulaceae). It's botanically related to birch trees, alder trees, and hornbeam trees. • Although still commonly used, the name "filbert" lost most of its popularity in the 1980s when the Oregon Filbert Commission decided to use "hazelnut" as the standard name for this nut. • Some hazelnut trees are still producing nuts when they're 100 years old!
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