A hazelnut farm near Orange is celebrating a record harvest after getting very little yield last year, and another is expecting an above-average harvest.
Fourjay Farms at Forest Reefs is run by husband and wife Basil and Jean Baldwin and their daughter and son-in-law Carolyn and Dave Stansfield, and so far this year they have exceeded their record haul by three tonnes.
Mrs Baldwin said they have 5000 hazelnut trees on two sites, with 500 at one and 4500 at another.
Graeme Eastwood also has 5000 hazelnut trees at Rosefarm at Nashdale. He said he has imported a new harvester from Italy and is expecting an above average harvest.
Mrs Baldwin said the record harvest is especially welcome after the drought led them to only harvest three tonnes of hazelnuts last year, with nothing harvested from their smaller site.
"The harvest this year is the largest we've ever had, it's the opposite compared to last year," Mrs Baldwin said.
She said due to wet weather and cool conditions the trees have bounced back and so far they have harvested 16 tonnes of hazelnuts this month.
"Our biggest group we've had up until now was 13 tonnes," Mrs Baldwin said.
"This year we haven't quite finished harvest, we've just got a little bit to day."
She said at Fourjay Farms they let the hazelnuts develop until they drop off the tree on their own and once all the nuts have dropped, without shaking the trees, they bring the nuts in, dry them in the sun and shell them as needed.
She said this year the harvest is taking place in April.
However, she said not all farms follow the same method and a in the United Kingdom hazelnut, also known as cobnut, farms in Kent harvest straight from the tree while they are still green.
Mrs Baldwin said her husband Basil, a former Orange Ag College lecturer, researched hazelnut cultivation for 10 years with five cool climate locations in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania before planting 5000 trees at Forest Reefs.
Mrs Baldwin said hazelnut trees pollinate in the middle of winter when the trees have no leaves but they have long droopy male flowers called catkins that release pollen. They pollinate with small red flowers, which later grow into nuts. Fertilisation takes place in spring and nuts can be seen in November.
She said they have two main varieties of hazelnuts because the trees need to cross pollinate to form nuts.
She said some of the shelled nuts from Fourjays are sold at Orange Farmers Market as nuts as well as in products including dukkah and pancake mix but they also sell them to a nougat maker and a biscuit maker in South Australia as well as chocolate makers in the Blue Mountains.
"There's hardly anyone in Australia who do what we do," Mrs Baldwin said.
Unlike Fourjays, Mr Eastwood sells his hazelnuts in the shell mostly to people who visit the farm, and he also sends them to Melbourne.
Although he is happy with this year's yield, he said wild pigs from the national park are causing a problem so he is putting in a "big fence" next year.
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