By David Murdoch, Interim Chairman
HGA newsletter, summer 2003
Welcome to all members of the Hazelnut Growers Association. The setting up of an association takes a considerable amount of time and effort and I would like to thank all those who helped get the ball rolling. The transition from Southern Nut Growers Association has been reasonably smooth and their grant of $500 is appreciated. Likewise we are very grateful for the early support from the hazelnut action group to help with some of the setup costs.
Since our inauguration the committee has had several meetings and along with the basic administration details there has been considerable discussion about the initial direction the Association needs to head in. Feed back from members indicated a desire for communication between growers, and some answers to the problem of yield variability with Whiteheart.
I am delighted with the effort that Dave Null has put in to come up with the newsletter as this is the most valuable means of communication we can have, so thank you Dave. The production of the newsletter is designed to fit in with the seasonal issues of Health in a Shell and will be sent out as an insert. This allows us to publish larger articles in the journal while catering for in house association news etc. in the newsletter.
With regards to research the committee feels the most important area to focus on at present is the yield profile of Whiteheart as there appears to be quite a variation between orchards. The committee is currently investigating past research and hopes to work with Lincoln University on any new research initiatives. However funding of any research is a major hurdle. The committee feels that perhaps the best initial step is to setup a program on a number of orchards to study such things as soils, fertilizer inputs, irrigation, pollinators, etc. etc. in an attempt to find out why some orchards yield better than others. In other words to come up with a set of best practice orchard management guidelines. We feel this could be a cost-effective way of improving Whiteheart yields. So at some stage this year we will be calling on a number of growers to help out with this.
The committee has also discussed the possibility of a hazelnut conference/seminar. This would be an ideal way to bring growers together and to disseminate information.