Bill and Marie Ellery

Swannanoa, North Canterbury

HGA newsletter – Summer 2003

It is important that New Zealand growers of Hazelnuts develop an understanding of what is happening within our industry at the orchard level. Much useful information could be tapped by listening to each HGANZ member talk about what he or she has done which has worked well in their orchard….. or hasn’t worked so well…. equipment that they use or would like to use to make their operation more efficient… or whether they have aspirations to produce Hazelnuts for a living or just as a hobby….or pass advice on to the rest of us.

Each issue of our newsletter will try to touch base with a different grower to see what they are up to in their Hazelnut operation. In this issue we are listening to Bill and Marie Ellery of Rangiora.

Our Hazelnut orchard consists of 950 Whiteheart trees plus pollinators. All of the trees are nearly eight years old. The main variety, Whiteheart, was chosen for the quality of the nuts produces and because it grows well in Canterbury. The pollinators are Alexandra, Merville de Bollwillier, Kentish Cob and Ham Sing, and are planted one pollinator per ten Whiteheart.

The trees were planted over a three year period, as money became available. They were planted in nine blocks with just over 100 trees per block. The rows are five metres apart and three metres between each tree within the rows.

The internal shelter is Italian Alders, which crows nest Poplars, Leyland Cypress, and Wattles as external shelter. In Canterbury, it is important to establish shelter well before planting the orchard.

Approximately 170kg of in-shell nuts were harvested last season. The nuts were mostly sold dry roasted with small quantities sold either as cinnamon or chilli coated. They were marketed as Ellery’s Hazelnuts.

To bring in an income while waiting for the hazels to produce, we put in 900 berry plants. The berries are a cross between a boysenberry and a blackberry and are known as “Karaka Black” and “Ranui”. The fresh berries are sold in roadside stalls and to several wineries and local restaurants. Frozen packs are available during the non-producing months of the year. The berries are very labour intensive and when their producing life is at an end, a future crop might well be Blueberries.

The soil on the property is described as “Eyre Riverstone”. It is ancient
Waimakariri river bed, consequently irrigation is essential. The berries are fed and watered using drippers while the Hazels are watered using sprinklers with the laterals being underground. Hares have been a problem, nipping the 4mm feeder tubes to the sprinklers and in the early days nipping the young trees themselves. Egg and paint spray help deter hare damage.

Our Hazels seem to be pest and disease free here. The orchard floor is sprayed and mown regularly to keep the grass and weeds under control.

Bill and Marie Ellery
North Eyre Rd.
RD1, Rangiora