ORANGE’S ideal climate for growing hazelnuts is helping the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) test their ability to grow in hotter climate in a hope to boost the entire industry.
With the help of funding from Agri Australis and the federal government, the DPI established hazelnut orchards at the Orange, Yanco and Dareton agricultural institutes in 2012 and 2013, including some Italian varieties never tested before in Australia.
The aim was to trial the oversees varieties, which produce nuts the correct size for Nutella and Ferrero Rocher, in Australian conditions.
But it was also to see whether the hazelnuts would tolerate harsher conditions than Orange, which has a similar climate to Europe.
Research horticulturalist Dr Jacquelyn Simpson said the results had been encouraging considering the orchards were still quite young.
“All the trees have grown pretty well so far,” she said.
The DPI maximised the yield by growing the hazelnuts as bushes rather than trees and watering regularly through recent dry conditions.
Dr Simpson hoped the program could be extended for another five years to test the longer-term yields.
The DPI is also currently testing walnuts’ ability to thrive in smaller-scale orchards.