Hazelnut Orchard Rehabilitation?
I am considering making an offer on 4 acres of land on Whidbey Island in WA, where I intend to establish a u-pick fruit orchard and build a retirement home. The land currently has about an acre dedicated to hazelnut trees. There are about 80 trees spaced in a grid 25-feet apart and they are 18-20 feet tall. They are over 20 years old and have been neglected for years. I would like to get some advice on the prospect of rehabilitating this grove of trees rather than chopping them all down. I have a number of pictures taken in mid-August that I would like to share to learn from your observations and comments. As a first step I have also gathered leaf samples and have sent them off to a lab for analysis. The overgrown structure of the trees make it appear to be a considerable project for me to prune out the dead wood. I am wondering if it would be worth the effort. The Island County extension agent suggested I contact you since Oregon is where all the Hazelnut production is. On Whidbey Island I may be a little north of the ideal zone for Hazelnut growth, but perhaps it could be worth while since the tree have reached maturity?
Thank you for your response. I had inspected the trees last weekend with EFB in mind, but did not see the characteristic rows of stroma or cankers illustrated in the online literature anywhere on the trees. But in my inexperience I may have missed some of the signs. There is considerable lichen on the trunks and branches. I noted in the links you sent that there are some indications of infection on the mature trunks that do not involve the rows of stroma. With the age of the orchard and it's appearance of being poorly cared for, it is hard to believe it would be free of any EFB.
I have not been able to gather any history on the orchard and do not know what cultivars were planted. Is there any way to easily identify cultivars from leaf shape or nut characteristics?
How does one identify the pollinizers? Is there a specific characteristic for the pollenizer tree I should be looking for? Thanks again.
Thanks for your comments. Sounds less optimistic than I had hoped. We are looking at purchasing the 4 acres by end of Sept. We will need to decide if we raze the 1 acre hazelnut orchard or try to rehabilitate. Sounds like your recommendation is to cut down and start anew. If we raze it, we would likely want to re-plant with a variety of fruits (apple, blueberry, raspberries, etc) for a u-pick fruit orchard. We might re-plant some hazelnuts, but our original thought was to try to begin the fruits elsewhere on the property and take advantage of the existing mature hazelnut trees for some nut harvest. Sounds like your recommendation is that rehabilitating the trees would be less cost effective than beginning fresh. FYI attached is a leaf analysis I had done (5 leafs taken from 10 different trees). It shows nutrients in the optimum range. Also attached are a couple more photos, not sure if it provides any additional insights. Do you recommend a soil fumigation prior to re-plant, or would a soil test be required to determine? If I were to begin several rows of apple tree plantings in the acre adjacent to the hazelnut trees and handle the nut tree removals over the course of a year or two, would I be endangering my apples with the EFB disease exposure from the nut trees? With the nut trees must the wood be burned instead of chipped and used as mulch to avoid disease spread?
Thanks again for your help and continual guidance.