Jason Fischbach, Agriculture Agent in Ashland and Bayfield Counties and Linda Grimo from Ontario, Canada discuss hazelnut breeding and her nursery’s long history working with hazelnuts.
Cutting Edge: In Search of New Crops For Wisconsin
Episode 18: Grimo Hazelnuts
Recorded February 26, 2021
JASON FISCHBACH, Linda Grimo
JASON FISCHBACH 00:00
This is a podcast about new crops, you’re gonna love it. Join us on the cutting edge, a podcast in search of new crops for Wisconsin.
Linda Grimo 00:10
The the hazelnut industry isn’t competitive. It’s cooperative. And I think that really helps the entire industry whether it’s in Ontario or Minnesota, Wisconsin or Oregon, or New Jersey, everybody wants the industry to thrive.
JASON FISCHBACH 00:45
Welcome to the Cutting Edge a podcast in search of new crops for Wisconsin. I’m JASON FISCHBACH, the agriculture agent in Ashland and Bayfield county. I’m today’s host and I’m joined by Linda Grimo from Ontario, Canada. She’s going to talk to us today about their breeding program and their nursery and their long history working with hazelnuts. Welcome, Linda. Thanks for joining us.
Linda Grimo 01:07
Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.
JASON FISCHBACH 01:09
Right. How’s the weather in Ontario these days?
Linda Grimo 01:13
We’re really mild. It’s nice. We had some massive snow last week, but nothing, nothing like you guys get. And now it’s melting.
JASON FISCHBACH 01:23
We went 35 below Fahrenheit in our northern regions. So that’s pushing our luck in some of the hazelnut material. So we’ll see what happens in spring. But yeah, yeah. All right. Maybe, yeah, just start talking about the nursery and the history of it. And the work that you and Ernie have done. You know, I really see you guys as kind of a, a bridge in a lot of ways where you carry forth some of the earlier attempts to improve plant material. Now you’ve also introduced obviously, your new material, too. So anyway, yeah, if you could just go into the history and the overall business.
Linda Grimo 01:58
Yeah. So Ernie started Grimo Nut Nursery in, oh, long ago, he had an interest in testing nuts to see what could be grown in our Ontario climate. And at the time, we lived in Niagara Falls on a little city lot, probably an average city lot. And he had about 100 trees. So he decided he needed some land to continue exploring. And so he purchased the land in Niagara on the lake, and was collecting all kinds of material from Northern Nut Growers Association members and other people who he had met through his contacts and eventually started on a pretty neat little collection of everything that people liked. If they said it produced well, he would graft it and grow it. And the same was true with the hazelnuts. So eventually, he had this great setup with all these different things, and he started offering them for sale by grafting them for people, or in the case of hazelnuts, I’m not sure when he started layering, but I moved back here in 1999, to work with him. And he was still grafting hazels. And the percentage of takes wasn’t high. So we we kind of abandoned that and started working on just a cloning by layering or stool beds. Yeah, and that was much more successful. He used to graft on a Turkish tree Hazel to make sure that it wouldn’t sucker. Because obviously, once a tree starts branching out or suckering, if you if you’re on a regular hazel it’s going to, you’ll never know where the graft was and where the suckers are. And so layering is a good alternative for us.
JASON FISCHBACH 03:49
Just so folks are clear that are listening. Niagara on the lake is on Lake Ontario, just south or across the lake from Toronto, right?
Linda Grimo 03:57
Yes, that’s right, on a nice clear day we can see the Toronto skyline across the lake. So we are protected by that lake. So it gives a moderating effect, which is why we love to test our material with you guys. Because our climate can’t test for cold hardiness. It can test for Ontario hardiness, but it can’t test for true cold hardiness. And that’s why sites like yours are so important.
JASON FISCHBACH 04:29
Looking at the map, it looks like you’re roughly at the same latitude as Madison, Wisconsin.
Linda Grimo 04:33
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, but because of the lake we’re much milder.
JASON FISCHBACH 04:39
Much milder right. It’s always interesting to think that you know where you are in Canada, you’re farther south than part or all of 13 states in the United States.
Linda Grimo 04:51
JASON FISCHBACH 04:53
So you’re working with both the northern adapted I’d call her the winter hardy hazelnuts but Also some of the European types, do you want to just talk briefly about the less hardy material and maybe even go into Ontario Hazelnut Association and the work their with.
Linda Grimo 05:12
So I’m sorry to interrupt, but yeah, um, Ferrero for built a plant in Brantford, Ontario in 2006, I believe, and with that plant came a renewed interest in growing hazelnuts for commercial purposes. And because Ferrero makes Nutella. That’s right. And, and they first they said, Okay, well, we, they wanted us to grow the nuts, that would be the little center nut in a Ferrero Rocher. So if you pull apart a Rocher, and you get to the very center, it’s a tiny nut. And they like that, and it needs to be a very certain specific size and shape to drop in the center and not change the the grams of material going into the little circle, or the little ball. So they thought of Ontario as being a great source for planting these trees and growing them out. But they didn’t. At first, they really didn’t realize that those European selections are just not suited to Ontario because of of Eastern filbert blight. So we through time with their research and their investment and their dedication to the Ontario Hazelnut Association, a lot of research was done to see which of the selections they were really most interested in, meaning the European ones and the Oregon Hazel’s. And then of course, they asked the University of Guelph also really insisted that Ernie’s material and selections from his earliest days of gathering cultivars and weighing the crops and all of that to to get his input on the best Ontario ones that would go into those research plantings. So over the years, they discovered that all of the European ones died off with blight, or never produced, they just aren’t hardy, they’re not suited to our interior climate. However, the ones that Ernie selected really yielded the highest, but they aren’t the right size and shape for them. Not to put into that for Rocher. However, it can be used for the Nutella spread just fine. But they were still focusing on that little nut. So they they looked at Yamhill as being an ideal nut for the kernel market for they’re the center of their products. But over time, those Yamhill and Jefferson especially gets blight really bad here, blight, Jefferson, definitely Yamhill I’ve never seen blight on our trees, but they don’t yield as heavy even as Gamma. And Jefferson. I just consider. Unfortunately, you have to do spraying and a lot of maintenance if you’re going to plant Jefferson but it does produce a very nice nut.
JASON FISCHBACH 08:17
Does Yamhill have the gasaway resistance.
Linda Grimo 08:21
JASON FISCHBACH 08:22
Okay, but Jefferson does not right.
Linda Grimo 08:25
Oh, I thought they both did.
JASON FISCHBACH 08:28
An interruption here from the editor’s desk. Eastern filbert blight is a fungal disease that is endemic to the upper Midwest, and is lethal to hazelnut trees, not American hazelnut, which grows wild in our region. The upper Midwest has resistance to Eastern filbert blight, but generally European hazelnuts do not. The two cultivars Jefferson and Yamhill, which are European hazelnuts grown in Oregon, are resistant to one strain of Eastern filbert blight via the Gasaway gene, or allele of that gene. And it’s overcome that resistance is overcome by the many different eco types of Eastern filbert blight that are found in the upper Midwest, which is why the resistance is breaking down in Ontario, where Eastern Filbert Blight is also endemic.
Linda Grimo 09:15
But the Ontario selections that Ernie put in, the Gene and Slate were both based on their gene of resistance is Rush. And that came out of the Cornell or the Ithaca plantings. the Finger Lakes area in New York where a big breeding program was done. Oh, sixties and and seventies, no, maybe even earlier, maybe fifties in New York, so they shut down that breeding program. It didn’t come out to a whole lot. They never did make recommendations. But Ernie was able to get material from those plantings before it was lost. So we’ve managed to maintain Gene and Slate and they are still some of the top producers, especially for the Ontario market, whether it ever becomes a part of the Ferrero. So once blight was found in in southern Ontario in Yamhill, and Jefferson in a lot of the orchards that Ferrero was able to go out and and look at, they, they became very hesitant with the Ontario market realizing that if they can’t grow exactly what they want, they may not get the yield they’re anticipating. So they’ve kind of put their efforts back into Oregon, or not back into Oregon, they put their efforts into a renewed conversation with Oregon, because they hadn’t been buying nuts from them. Maybe because of the price maybe because, I don’t know. But historically, they had not until more maybe within the last five years buying from Oregon. But Yamhill is what they’re buying from my understanding.
JASON FISCHBACH 11:10
Gotcha. So Gene
Linda Grimo 11:13
I just, yeah.
JASON FISCHBACH 11:14
Gene and Slate, can you just give a little more detail? The progeny of those those these would be? From your considering maybe not winter or northern hardy? Or do you think that they could work in Wisconsin or Minnesota?
Linda Grimo 11:28
No, I don’t think so. And the reason I say that is because when they were tested we’ve got a farm up in a zone 5B and their well Slate didn’t do well, in a 6A, the catkins froze. And I think that Gene would be really pushing it. We’ve got some Gene in a in a place up in a 5B but I don’t think they’re, I don’t I just don’t I wouldn’t plant them in your area. Gotcha. I wouldn’t. Yeah. I would focus on the ones that really are suited to that colder zone. And then you never have to worry about did my did my flowers freeze. Well, the flowers never freeze. Females are always Hardy. That’s my joke, but the it’s the pollen and if the pollen freezes, and I had at this farm up in 5B, they have a I was looking they do fortunately they do the they do the phrenology for me each year, and have found that they’ve got Farris G17. And it freezes. Like the pollen just freezes for them. And they recognize that they learn to start looking at the catkins very closely. And yeah, in colder, like wicked cold if those catkins have even opened up slightly, it kills them. So it’s it’s not worth it. It’s just not worth it. Yeah.
JASON FISCHBACH 13:03
Okay, so that’s the stuff more adapted to Ontario. So now maybe let’s shift to the northern more hardy material. And I’ve been trying to teach our growers here in the Midwest a lot about the difference between seedling hazelnuts and clonal hazelnuts and seedlings are grown from a seed, every plant’s going to be genetically different versus clonal material. They’re vegetatively propagated, every plant of that of that clone will be the same so maybe let’s start with the seedling material that you’re you’re offering through your website as a breeder.
Linda Grimo 13:37
Yeah, yeah, so this the the seedling varieties are, we’re taking them from our best sources. So there’s we consider them by source. So the the Skinner source for example would be the Skinner Hazel that was that originates in Manitoba. And of course Manitoba being very cold. We like that for a nice cold hardy source. However, Skinner did get blight, but its offspring have not. So at least Dermis. Dermis is. Now, it could be the same with the others as well that their offspring would get blight, but the parent source in this case got blight. We do like Skinner though because of its hardiness. And it’s, it’s, it’s a good hard shell, it produces every year. And and we don’t know what Dermis was pollinated by and we don’t have the alleles back on that one yet to know. To give us an inkling of what the parentage is we’re finding that when the alleles line up, that you can see family lines in that.
JASON FISCHBACH 15:02
And Skinner is a hybrid between European and American hazelnut?
Linda Grimo 15:08
Yes, yeah, that’s exactly it.
JASON FISCHBACH 15:10
So So you guys are selling seedlings from the Skinner mom, essentially.
Linda Grimo 15:17
Yes. For Dermis. So we use the dermis seed as a Skinner source as well.
JASON FISCHBACH 15:24
Linda Grimo 15:25
JASON FISCHBACH 15:28
Okay. Do you know if those are planted widely or, you know, how widely are those seedlings being planted at this point from seed?
Linda Grimo 15:35
We just, ah, we’ve been selling Skinner layers for quite a long time. Someone just contacted us this morning and was telling us about his plants, his his Skinner sourced plants and and they’re doing very well in Northern Ontario. Then we’ve got the, another northern source we have is the Asian/Quebec. And now this Asian/Quebec he he was given the he was given a tree that was considered to be heterophylla. But he was always, over the years he’s he’s reconsidered whether or not it’s a true heterophylla or not simply because of the shape of its leaves. And it seemed that it’s not typical of the heterophylla. However, we were just chatting with Shawn Melonbacher and Shawn sent some pictures back of other pure heterophylla and said no, it really could be, don’t base you’re, don’t base that on the leaves. So that that was kind of nice feedback because the heterophylla actually has a huge variation in in leaves. So it is possible it’s true heterophylla.
JASON FISCHBACH 16:49
Heterophylla is from China, right?
Linda Grimo 16:52
Yes, it’s it’s the Chinese chestnut, and in a very cold hardy region of China. So, yes. So Ernie became interested in the parent tree in the 80s. Because it had abundant crops of pea sized nuts every year that dropped cleanly out of the husk. So of course, that’s ideal, right? And it dropped in late August. It never had bud mite, blight. And the tree is really dwarfish, like Cornuta. And it’s I think, that I don’t even think it’s more than five feet tall. So he started using that as he would, he would use that source as the mother tree’s nut, without crossing, without controlled crossing, just open pollinated, whatever was nearby and he would plant those out. And he he planted out 50 seeds in an orchard row and eliminated a lot of them because they did get blight. But he was able to choose Aldara, Andrew, Het-E, and a new one that he’s called Dawn. We also think so we’ve added Quebec to the source name. We call it an Asian Quebec source because the original heterophylla came from Quebec, but also because heterophylla is Asian, and secondly, because another grower had bought our trees, seedling trees, planted it out and found it to be fantastic. So he brought the entire tree back to my dad. My dad said just bring me a layer,now the guy brought him the whole tree. And, and that’s Northern Blaze. So.
JASON FISCHBACH 18:41
Linda Grimo 18:43
Yeah, that’s northern Blaze. So it started out as a seedling here. He grew it and then brought it back to us because he found it was such a great tree.
JASON FISCHBACH 18:53
Linda Grimo 18:54
Yeah. So then out of those Asian Quebec sources, like I said, there’s Andrew, Aldera, Dawn and and Northern Blaze that we find to be superior. And, yes, there’s always going to be in the case of seedlings that some get blight and we tell people cut them down. Don’t play with blight. Don’t prune it, just get rid of. I know it. I know it kind of sucks to have that space in your orchard. But especially in your region where you’re doing the bush form just just get the tree to sucker. Find one find one of the seedling trees you really like. Get it to layer and fill in those empty spots, but cut out the ones that get blight because you’re going to spend more time and your trees are close because of the way you’re going to harvest them. You don’t you don’t want that contact you you want separation and I think that’s the best way is if you’ve got an orchard full of seedlings, cut them down and refill with some of your own best ones or get, obviously get layered ones from us. Yeah, so that’s, that’s my take on how to deal with a seedling orchard is really cull and plant better ones in between.
JASON FISCHBACH 20:12
So, back back to Northern Blaze so it was a seedling that was grown from that original. Oh, no. Yeah. And then he liked it and transplanted the whole tree.
Linda Grimo 20:26
JASON FISCHBACH 20:27
Linda Grimo 20:27
JASON FISCHBACH 20:27
So then you you’ve been able to make layers of that since then.
Linda Grimo 20:32
Yeah, right. Okay, because northern Blaze. Now we have a lot of these at the West Madison planting and Northern Blaze. Now. It’s one year, you know, last year was our kind of first nut crop of those plants that were planted in 2018, I guess is when we planted them. And Northern Blaze by far had the most nuts and the nut quality was just amazing, you know, larger than any of the seedling stuff that’s being grown in the Midwest right now. So it’s interesting, but I’m looking at your website now. And I don’t see any Northern Blaze for sale is that. Oh yeah, everything sold out. If I I’m I may have taken it. Oh, yeah. I took that and Marian off by mistake. I can put those back in. There’s still nothing left, but I can add them back in.
JASON FISCHBACH 21:19
Linda Grimo 21:20
Okay. Yeah. Yeah, so that that’s the that’s what he had selected Mr. Blaze and decided that yeah, this was a fantastic tree and we should we should make clones of it.
JASON FISCHBACH 21:32
Oh, that’s why the blaze came from, it’s the guy’s name. Okay. We’re all wondering. Okay. That’s good to know.
Linda Grimo 21:39
Yeah. His name is Jacque Blaze.
JASON FISCHBACH 21:43
Okay, so you’ve got the the Skinner origin material, the Asian/Quebec source material. And then you’ve also got a Saskatchewan source that you’ve been working with.
Linda Grimo 21:52
Yep. So the Saskatchewan. Yeah. The Saskatchewan source. We’re, they’re less hardy trees of the Manitoba crosses. So the crosses were made at the Morton experimental farm in Manitoba, in Manitoba, and he crossed the prairie adapted Native American Hazel with selections from the Geneva New York breeding project and distributed the offspring across the prairies. The University of Saskatchewan continues with that Hazel network, and one of the young workers in that program actually attended the last and MNGA conference that we had in person. So it was a pleasure to meet him and to to know that there’s still people behind this project. Now with. Yeah, and blight resistance seems good with those but the mother trees we use ripen in late August. And we think they’re, because of their heritage, they’re suited for the parentage. They’re suited for results for a and of course, nicer.
JASON FISCHBACH 23:03
Do you know, what was the they were using from the Geneva growing program for parents. Were those hybrids themselves too or were they?
Linda Grimo 23:12
No, they never provided him with that information. Just gave them that it was crossed. So I’m not sure which material they have.
JASON FISCHBACH 23:19
Linda Grimo 23:20
JASON FISCHBACH 23:21
Okay. So you’re selling seedlings collected from those mother plants? Are there selections or layers that you’re, that have come out of the Saskatchewan?
Linda Grimo 23:31
Yes. The Saskatchewan. Yep. So out of those came the earliest selections we made were Marian and Frank. And then Joanne and Julia and then Kira, but yeah, so out of those. Now the interesting thing is with these Frank and Marian produce a nice size large nut. So did Joanne and Julia but Joanne No, Julia. We found after selecting it and naming it we started to see blight. So it had grown here for 20 years without a drop of blight. And and then of course it did. So we don’t, and I think it gets it up by you guys too. Joanne is, Joanne’s a good tree. We’d like to hear a little bit better. It’s a newer one. But Marian and Frank we still really like and Marian is grown up in in our 5B fields, our friends property up there and he loves Marian. He’s like, get me 650 of them. They are early ripening, early producing, he likes everything about them. So that that.
JASON FISCHBACH 24:50
In our west Madison trial here that that we also have Marian it didn’t produce quite the same volume of nuts as northern blaze but the it was you number two, from you know, again, our first year of data, but the nut quality there too is just amazing. Really large, and, you know, pretty round kernels easy to crack.
Linda Grimo 25:12
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And then Frank is another one. Right now, we only know that it has one allele, however, we’ve we’ve been able to work with Shawn to see. And we’ll know, in the next week or so, if there is another allele in the pollen that is not quite known yet. We’re so you know, we’re so very fortunate to work with you guys. And Shawn and Tom, Shawn Melenbacher and Tom Molnar. Because the the hazelnut industry isn’t competitive. It’s cooperative. And I think that really helps the entire industry, whether it’s in Ontario or Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Oregon or New Jersey, everybody wants the industry to thrive. And it’s that collaboration is so important. And we’re and we’re really grateful for it.
JASON FISCHBACH 26:11
Yeah, absolutely. We have enough challenges with hazelnuts as it is to, we don’t need to be competitive, right? It just makes it harder for everybody.
Linda Grimo 26:19
JASON FISCHBACH 26:22
So yeah, on your website, there’s all kinds of sold out.
Linda Grimo 26:26
JASON FISCHBACH 26:27
So what are you recommending? Are you you know, in the apple industry, it’s not uncommon to, for people to place orders for two or even three years before they actually get the material. So So how are you handling the demand here and because we know the motivation is slow.
Linda Grimo 26:41
It is slow. We do have a number of labs, we have three labs that we’re working with, and another nurserymen that has had success with cuttings. So we’ve we’re working with four partners to try and get these things out faster. And it’s slow, you know, one contamination in a tissue culture lab and they lose everything, and they start from scratch. So it’s it’s that part’s been frustrating for us. And we we wish we could produce trees faster. But we do use a waitlist. So as soon as people email me and expressed in expressed interest in growing Hazel’s, I put them on the waitlist, they can change their mind, I’m not binding them to anything. But it also allows me to know what the you know, when I tell the people to produce trees for it, give me give me a few 1000 You know what, I’ll take whatever they can produce. But it’s nice to know that I, if I actually got the 2000 of everything that I’d have buyers for them. So there’ll be a point where the, the supply meets the demand. But for now, we ask people to send us an email, I’ll put you on the waitlist, you can change your mind. I don’t bind anyone to it. But I, I if you know, if I ended up with a 1000, all Alderas I’ll get those out to as many people on the waitlist as possible. And then year after year, we fill in the rest of the orchard. Usually I start with at least two and I do like if people are going to grow layers, I really like them to have at least four. I don’t want less than four. I think that with an industry like this, we really need to make sure that we’re optimizing pollen and for pollination. So we have to make sure that they’re getting a good variety of cultivars with varying timing of pollen shed, making sure that those alleles all work together, and that the crosses in their orchard will work. So it’s it’s important that when they set the pre orders, sometimes people will order and say, I want these very specific ones. And if it’s if they’re in in supplying enough, then that’s not a problem. But sometimes I’ll get someone say, Okay, I saw Dawn on your website, and I’d like that. Well, I don’t even have Dawn for my research sites yet. So it’s it’s we’re letting people know what it’s about. But we just don’t even have production yet. So sometimes in that case, I’ll say, well, you know, maybe by the time that your order comes up, Dawn will be available, but if not, then I’ll offer you something different in its place. But yeah, it’s for the Northern Hazel’s. We’re looking at an 18 month to two year wait.
JASON FISCHBACH 29:40
Okay. Good to know. So if they, can they find your email address through your website or do we can they put it in our show notes or.
Linda Grimo 29:49
Yeah, put it in the show notes. It’s email@example.com. If they go to the website. It’s it’s a clickable button and that gets to us, too. But Tom, by the way, yeah, either way, they’ll reach us.
JASON FISCHBACH 30:04
Gotcha. Okay. So also looking on the website, you’ve got some American hazelnuts from Wisconsin source. Could you talk about those?
Linda Grimo 30:14
Yeah. So the Wisconsin source. Yeah. So there, they came from Badgersett quite a long time ago. And so I believe his were crossed with European at the time, and Ernie got seedlings of those. And there, we haven’t made any selections of those seedlings yet, but we do know that they’re quite Hardy. So people who are planting them in cold hardy places are reporting back that yeah, they’re, they’re doing well there.
JASON FISCHBACH 30:48
And that’s primarily what folks are growing in the Midwest now, plants that came from Badgersett and seedling populations. In some cases, they’ve made selections. And in fact, that’s what our program did is work with the on farm plantings of these Badgersetts. And I think our top 10 are all originated either from Badgersett or from plantings that came from Badgersett. So definitely northern hardy. They’re nut sizes are not amazing. But it’s, the plants are hardy, that’s for sure.
Linda Grimo 31:16
Yeah. And and I think that’s probably why we haven’t made any selections. If for the Ontario market, if the nuts aren’t large enough, they won’t, they won’t sell even Ferrero needs a very specific size nut. And that, that keeps people away from the smaller ones that even though they taste fantastic, they’re just not going to have a market here. I think if they made oils, or the oils are fantastic that you guys have when I was at your conference, the last time it the oils were phenomenal. So like they’re just beautiful. And I think that once that gets into the marketplace, the people won’t worry so much about the size or shape of these nuts when they can have something so beautifully pressed out of it.
JASON FISCHBACH 32:10
Yeah, right. Yeah, it is an amazing color that comes out of those hazelnut oils is just amazing.
Linda Grimo 32:17
JASON FISCHBACH 32:18
Um, so you talked a little bit about that growers should plant at least four different varieties of the layers. So if I’m a beginning grower just starting out, what’s your recommendation for working with you and getting plant material in terms of, you know, how big should they go? Do you feel confident enough that people could plant 10 or 20 acres? Should they start out smaller? I mean, obviously plants are limited, but we don’t go in forests.
Linda Grimo 32:43
Yeah, if plant supply wasn’t an issue, I think I’d still tell a new farmer to start with three acres. I think that especially people that haven’t necessarily farmed a tree crop before, we’re finding in Ontario, the learning curve is very, very difficult for new farmers. Maybe they don’t even have a tractor. So you know, if I have a peach grower that switches over to put in a nut crop a tree crop, that’s easy. They know exactly what to do. They’ve managed trees before. They know how to manage weed control, they’ve got everything in place all the skills. But I’m finding that a lot of times new Hazel farmers here are just completely new at farming. They love the idea. They love the tree farm, but it’s just new to them. So I think three acres is a really good starting point. They learn how to plant them, how to manage weed control, how to start monitoring for pests and scouting, it just gives them and then each year, add more on whether it’s one acre two acres, I have one guy that has pre orders in my pre order list for three acres every year for four years. So his his goal is to continue to add and make sure that each time his land is ready that I’ve got the supply available for him. But that that allows him to learn steadily as he grows. And when his first little three acre, not little, because three acres is quite a bit. But when the first three acres are are starting to mature, by the time his full acerage are in full production, he’s learned a lot along the way and he’s had a year to figure it out ahead of time. So as his first year crop starts to get into production, okay, I can get some wizards I can go pick those up by hand, I can pick them off the tree, kind of figure things out. By the time six acres are in production, then and nine acres by nine acres in that time period, they’re probably going to need a machine to harvest but it gives them the time and this the the ability to know year after year, it’s only going to get heavier your harvest your yield is going to get higher you have to, but by inching into it, it helps. I do think that 10 acres is a nice amount of land to have with trees. However, I think to that with the northern plants, they are smaller, you can put more per acre and get excellent yields on less land. So I think that’s a factor too. Maybe you don’t need to start with three acres, maybe two is good. Getting your feet wet, because you when the first time I remember someone calling me they had, I don’t know, 10 acres of trees, we hadn’t supplied them. It was a trial planting with local growers. And then they had trees from other nurseries. And she said, I don’t even know how to do this. How do I plant them? Do I just dig a hole? What do I do? You know, the the learning curve is so incredible. That Yeah, starting for her with 10 acres was way too much for looking back. She says she wish she started with three or five acres. But so when I say in your area, look at the you know, how many trees per acre? Can you plant in a day? Can you plant in a weekend? What is manageable? What is what is feasible to manage? Maybe they work a full time job, and they’re going to be weekend warriors, and weekend farmers. And that’s okay, too. You just have to make sure that you go into it slowly so that you’re ready for each step as it comes. And I think that will if someone jumps in and puts in 10 acres and they’ve never farmed trees before. It’s overwhelming. And I think that’s an that’s unfair to them. Because it can it can be frustrating. It can be confusing it can, they can have losses that they might not have had if they started with three acres. I just think it’s better to pace it and do it right. Even if your second year you jump in and say you know what? I loved my three acres I’m going to put in seven now. No problem. You know, again, if tree supply wasn’t an issue, no problem. It’s just that staggered start. I think it’s really helpful to people.
JASON FISCHBACH 37:19
Yeah, that’s great advice. Great advice, especially hazelnuts, because especially when we see this a lot when harvesting when the nuts start producing, oh boy, what have I gotten myself into? How do I do this? It’s not just like going out and picking blueberries. There’s a lot going on in terms of post harvest processing, drying, you’re selling kernel and you gonna crack them out. You mentioned plant spacing. Do you have recommendations for that are different for each of the varieties you’re selling? Like does Dermis have a different spacing, than Northern Blaze, or what do you recommend?
Linda Grimo 37:52
Yeah, well, dermis is a dermis becomes a bigger tree than northern Blaze. And so a lot of the Saskatchewan trees and even the Saskatchewan source and the Asian/Quebec source, the ones that we’ve selected range in size, I’d say from six to ten feet. Dermis is bigger. So if you’re going to do a row of Dermis, I would space that out a little bit wider. So maybe even 18 by 18 or 18 by or 16 feet down the rows. Whereas maybe with the Kira or the other trees, you might only need 10 feet because they’re just never going to crowd. I. Yeah, um, so there is a little bit of spacing differences between them. But that’s okay. And it doesn’t matter if when you look down a row, the dermis row are spread more than the other ones it aesthetically it might you might think, Oh, this looks lopsided or something. But in the big picture when these trees are all grown, it’s not going to make a difference.
JASON FISCHBACH 39:02
Gotcha. So the…
Linda Grimo 39:03
Because they’ll fill in.
JASON FISCHBACH 39:05
Yeah. So we’re faced with this very question right now at the West Madison planting. All of these selections we got from you, we have not pruned at all, we’ve just let them grow free. And now they’re, you know, they’re six feet tall, and some of them are three, four feet wide. And they all have different kind of growth forms. So what are you recommending in terms of pruning down to a couple of stems, one stem, just let him go?What do we do?
Linda Grimo 39:31
So in Ontario, in Ontario, we tell people to start getting them to a single stem right away. Just make that the growth pattern, but I think in your area the bush type works very well because they are being machine harvested. Well, whether they’re being machine harvested on the ground or machine harvested from the tree. I still think it’s best to keep the leaves cleaned off in the lower part of the trunk, if you’re going to harvest off the ground, than having the leaves and the branching kind of away from the, from the ground helps you to see what you’re picking up and helps the machinery to get under the trees, I still think that it’s best to at least always manage your plant to have three to four leaders or main stems, not leaders, but main stems because it I think in your area that the the idea of a single stem isn’t going to fly. But I think that when you go to a full bush, and you end up with so many branches, you’re you’re you’re creating a problem for the tree to produce, the more energy it’s putting into it’s suckers, and its growth at the ground, the less energy it’s going to put into its its performance and crop yield. So if you can manage that to three or four stems, I would say five at the very most, I like three or four. If one branch gets hit boom, or if raccoons or something attacks the tree, it’s only a part of it. It’s not the whole tree. I like the idea of three to four branching because of wildlife. And because of I think it’s just a sensible way to go. But I do think it’s important to minimize the number of suckers that are allowed to be growing, it definitely will delay, production and yielding.
JASON FISCHBACH 41:39
Yeah, we’re gonna have to get out there and do a little pruning in the spring. But yeah. So would you say if we’re taking it down to three or four, you know, we’re, it’s just the first year of production, are we too late do you think, or is this may be the first time you would go in there and do the pruning, you know, three or four years after planting, or?
Linda Grimo 41:57
Yeah, three or four years after planting is just fine. It’s, it’s when you get into maybe 10 years later, that you’re going to have, you’re going to have more difficulty in managing that. It’s going to be a it’s a, it’s going to be a bigger effort. And the tree has put so much energy into those branching all along that now you’re cutting out branches or limbs that have catkins and flowers on them. If you can keep those in mind, even at a young age, I’d say three years is a good time to go out and start clip clip clip. No, I like these are going in the right direction. You want as much light penetration as possible in that canopy. So even if you’re looking at our American Hazel F1 hybrid seedling, you can see that it’s really a compact bush, well, it’s only going to produce on the outer edge. It’s not, and it’s a small bush, but it’s only going to produce where the light can reach it. And so it’s really important to keep that the suckers and the number of stems under control for the for the for the yield for the energy use, and and for light penetration.
JASON FISCHBACH 43:21
So maybe let’s shift gears a little bit. You know, our growers are, they’ve got the American Hazelnut Company, but there’s no association of growers yet. There used to be what was called the Minnesota Hazelnut Foundation, but most of those growers have kind of since retired or moved on. How are the growers organized in Ontario? Is it an the Ontario Hazelnut Growers Association? Is it? Is it still active? Is it what is it doing? Or, if you can just talk about how the grower side of the industry is developing?
Linda Grimo 43:52
Yeah. So when when Ferrero first expressed an interest in hazelnuts in Ontario, that was the second time that there had been an interest in hazels in Ontario. And the first time was when the tobacco growers here were told, You know what, we’re not going to be growing tobacco find another crop, so they moved into some different tree nut crops. And but when it when that kind of that phase passed, it was kind of let go as well. But the Hazelnut Association kind of got that renewed boost from Ferrero’s interest and there was, mostly professors and my dad and Doug Campbell and a few other interested people in in the industry that kind of started having discussions every six months and and formulating some plans and eventually that turned into a steering committee for an association which founded the Ontario Hazelnut Association. That association, we were very lucky, we had some funding from government for starting up agricultural associations for new crops or something. So it was I think you can tie a lot of things into innovation. And that might have been how our association got its initial funding to get started.
JASON FISCHBACH 45:24
When was that? When were they formed?
Linda Grimo 45:27
So it was formed in 2010 I would say. And maybe, maybe, we’re on our 10th symposium. So yeah, maybe around 2010 it was incorporated as a farm association. Yeah. And during that time, we’ve, the Hazel Association has worked to provide information to growers to encourage people to have a an annual symposium where just like you guys do, except I like yours, because it’s over a couple days. And that networking that takes place overnight is really, you know, when people sit and visit that that’s really important, and growers need that. But it’s usually a one day meeting and throws in the research, the findings. Can the the Ontario government people talk about the pests and different agronomy issues, and it’s kind of a whirlwind of information. And, but they do that each year, this year, it’ll be virtual.
JASON FISCHBACH 46:49
Alright, so like, maybe let me put you on the spot here in terms of so you had talked about four varieties. If you’re talking to a grower from Wisconsin, which four?
Linda Grimo 47:02
I would say Dawn, because it pollinates early, and um okay, Dawn’s alleles are 15 and 27. So I would put Marian out there because the alleles are 14 and 25 and Northern Blaze the alleles are eight, eight and 11. And then then I’d have to have one other. So those three would definitely cross pollinate without any issues. I might put Nathan in there if it was, if I had enough in supply or Dermis, or or actually or Andrew and Aldera. So that fourth one I would say could be anything that’s reliable and hearty.
JASON FISCHBACH 47:45
Linda Grimo 47:46
Yeah, knowing the alleles really helps us and also knowing when they when they drop. So I know it’d be interesting to know when they drop there for you. I know that Northern Blaze is late here and so with Aldera but maybe they aren’t for you.
JASON FISCHBACH 48:04
Yeah, you know, I have to look back at the notes, but we picked them directly off the shrub. And so the the husks were still relatively green, but the nuts were loose in the husk still. And if I remember, it was in September sometime. I’d have to look back at the notes to see just when when it was okay.
Linda Grimo 48:22
So that would be another thing I consider too is I would want to know, when everything’s harvesting, if they’re going to machine harvest off the tree, then they need to have everything ripening at the same time. So for me, I would look at that too. So if you can, if you can send us at some point the ripening times, then that would be really helpful.
JASON FISCHBACH 48:44
Can do, yep, good. So we’ll send all whatever, 200 people at our conference to buy Dawn, Mary, Northern Blaze and one more.
Linda Grimo 48:52
That sounds awesome. I wish I could be there. Your group is fantastic. And I’m really excited with everything that you guys do.
JASON FISCHBACH 49:03
Well, thanks so much for being on on the call and sorry about the mix up here. It was not a pretty day.
Linda Grimo 49:14
You know what, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m just happy to talk to you and it’s it’s I know that the people only hear our voices but it’s it’s wonderful to see you and to connect in this way.
JASON FISCHBACH 49:27
Yeah, for sure. Alright.
Linda Grimo 49:28
Say hi to everyone for me.
JASON FISCHBACH 49:30
I will, no doubt.
Linda Grimo 49:31
All right. Okay. See ya.
JASON FISCHBACH 49:33
Linda Grimo 49:34
JASON FISCHBACH 49:49
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