Tuesday, October 24, 2017


I have a friend who lives in Bellevue, Michigan who as a beautiful row of hazelnuts.

His problem is that they are all the same kind, Grand Traverse and hazelnuts are not self pollinating.

He knew this and, at one time, had several varieties of hazelnuts in his orchard.  And then the Eastern Filbert Blight wiped out all the other trees.

He gets very, very light crops of nuts.  Larry may not know it, but I am about to give him a gift.

This bush is about 36 inches tall.

Same photo but with the bunches of catkins circled.
One of the healthier bunches of catkins.  I count twelve on this branch.
This little bush has almost one hundred catkins on it.  There is roughly an 80% chance that it can pollinate Grand Traverse.  There are 14 documented "alleles" and two of the alleles are manifest in the female flowers.  Based on random chance, there is at least one-chance-in-seven (14%) that the two cultivars will not be compatible.   Flipping that around, there is about an 80% chance that it will be able to pollinate Grand Traverse.

I have no idea if this seedling will be compatible with Grand Traverse but it is from an extremely different genetic background and so I am optimistic.

These hazelnuts are ready for winter.  They are dropping their leaves and fully dormant.
These seedling hazelnuts were purchased from the National Arbor Day Foundation.  Their seedstock is from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa and is a mix of European and American hazelnut species.  The precocious catkin production of the one seedling is likely to be a gift from Corylus cornutaC. cornuta may be the hardiest hazelnut in the world.  It has been collected in central Saskatchewan and Alberta in Canada.

Grand Traverse is a cross with Turkish Tree Hazel and European Hazel in it bloodlines.

These hazelnut seedlings are in the very next row and you can see they still think it is summer.


  1. I'm sure he will be delighted! :-)

  2. I bought a hundred Wisconsin native hazelnuts a few years ago from the DNR and have zero fruit. There are also a couple of nursery grown ones in the mix and they also have nothing. I asked the Wisconsin DNR guy if having all of one variety would impact fruit production,as Hazelnuts need a second cultivar, and he assured me it would not as they native. Not so sure. what's your take?

    1. Do any of your bushes have catkins? They might not have hit sexual maturity.

      There are some tricks for pushing them along if they don't have catkins. Increasing sunlight by release cutting is one technique. "Shocking" them with potassium is another. Spreading limbs so they capture more sunlight is a third.

      Nobody is really sure why shocking with potassium works. It may be that it mimics what the roots would see after a forest fire. Any plant that can recognize that there is open ground to colonize and produces prodigious numbers of seeds has a competitive advantage.

      Regarding pollination, it seems unlikely that all hundred seedlings would be mutually incompatible.

      Good luck.


  3. Not a catkin in sight. I'll try the catkin. Sunlight is very good in this location.


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