Julio Botero, a tutor and PhD candidate at Lincoln University, is conducting a research project into factors affecting horticultural industry growth and has asked whether HGA members might answer a survey to contribute to his research:
Growers are being asked to participate in a survey as part of research project to help unlock growth in the horticulture industry. The survey is part of Lincoln University PhD student, Julio Botero’s, research project on the business factors that enable or restrict growth of horticultural businesses.
The survey will take 15 minutes to complete and asks questions about your business structure and preferred ways of operating. Having a range of grower input is crucial for ensuring that the results reflect the breadth of the industry.
In 2021, two of New Zealand’s larger hazelnut processors changed ownership. Uncle Joes, located just outside Blenheim, is now owned and managed by Debbie Whiteside and Alan Crawford. Hazelz New Zealand, near Christchurch, is now run by Shane McKenzie.
Over the next few newsletters, we’ll be introducing the new owners to you.
Debbie Whiteside & Alan Crawford – Uncle Joes
Please tell us a bit about your personal background.
The New Zealand hazelnut industry is steadily establishing itself as an economically viable horticultural industry. With over 400 hectares planted, the increase in hazelnut production over the coming years will enable the existing cracking plants to take advantage of the expanding market for nuts. This market expansion is being led by research that is showing the health benefits of including nuts as a daily part of one’s diet. Research is continuing to prove that the nut oils are heart friendly, rapidly lowering levels of bad cholesterol, and recent research is indicating that they may also be useful in preventing diabetes.
The expansion of hazel growing out of the main Canterbury area has indicated the potential for hazelnut production in many areas that are now dominated by livestock production. In recent years the dairy boom has made it difficult for other land uses to attract attention but there is potential for a significant hazelnut industry in the sheltered, moister areas of South Canterbury, the lower Waitaki, and coastal Otago. Examination of new plantings and old stands indicate that the best sites have growth rates as good as in the main hazelnut producing areas overseas. Compared to dairying or intensive livestock production, hazel growing has lower total water use, no effluent disposal costs, and lower energy input costs. Nuts are machine harvested so seasonal labour requirements are not an issue.
The majority of hazels planted in New Zealand are the Whiteheart variety, selected for its high quality kernel. Grower success with this variety has been mixed, with many experiencing poor yields and high losses of young plants in some soils. The Hazelnut Growers Association of NZ (HGANZ) and the NZ Tree Crops Association have been working to identify the causes of these problems, running field days on pruning, orchard management, and testing young trees for disease. Poor pollination has been identified as the probable cause of poor yields and assistance from the Sustainable Farming Fund is enabling us to provide accurate advice to growers through a series of workshops in June of this year.
The Oregon hazelnut industry is a highly profitable horticultural industry concentrated on the high quality soils of the Willamette Valley. With returns of about $US7000 per hectare over cash costs, hazelnut production competes well with other land uses. Production is concentrated in the northern part of the valley between Salem and Portland, an area with large areas of grass seed cropping, berry growing, ornamental tree nurseries and wine grapes, especially pinot noir. Having watched the changes in the Oregon industry over the last 15 years, I had the chance to examine it during a visit in August/September of 2008 and see if there were lessons for the NZ industry.
The Oregon hazelnut industry has always been based on providing high quality nuts for the world inshell nut market. Fifteen years ago the traditional in-shell markets (Europe and domestic US consumption) were declining and the focus for hazelnut production was turning to the dominant kernel market. The situation has changed with the rise of China as a dominant economic force and about 50% of the total US in-shell hazel production now goes to China and Vietnam, often with prices negotiated and contracted prior to harvest. Processing plants in Oregon are keen to promote extra hazelnut production.
Both of the preferred in-shell hazel varieties, Barcelona and Ennis, are susceptible to Eastern Filbert Blight, a disease that has been spreading through the Willamette Valley since the 1980’s. This has restrained new plantings as growers wait for EFB-resistant varieties to emerge from the Oregon State University breeding programme. Recent years have seen resistant varieties emerge for the kernel trade but the first EFB resistant in-shell variety was not released until January this year. Oregon growers have a huge replanting task. Larger growers that we visited are replanting 10,000 trees per year.
The markets that the Oregon industry is supplying would be open to New Zealand growers if they had the right varieties. Good quality Barcelona and Ennis nuts are already being grown in Marlborough but quantities are not yet sufficient to fill local market requirements. The opportunity exists to expand our hazelnut plantings to take advantage of profitable markets for healthy food and growth in Asian economies.
By Sjef Lamers of Sustainable Nutrition B. For. Sc., Dip. H.L.S. Dordrecht, MNZSSS
HGA newsletter, February 2009
There are 16 essential nutrients required for plant growth: carbon (C), hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), and chlorine (Cl). Of these 16 nutrients most are derived from the soil except carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.
Nature has provided the soil with a form of nutrient storage (a nutrient cupboard): very small clay and organic particles called colloids. These colloids have electrical charges: they are positively or negatively charged. The amount of these colloids in a soil determines the total amount of charges in a soil. Nutrients are electrically charged ions in the soil. A positively charged ion (called cations e.g. potassium or calcium) will attach itself to a negatively charged colloid. A soil with a small amount of negatively charged colloids will have a very limited capacity to store elements like potassium and calcium. A soil with a high amount of negatively charged colloids is able to store a large amount of cations. The amount of fertilizer to use depends on the storage capacity of the soil. There is no general fertilizer application which will be valid for all soils. Every property will require its own fertilizer program.
Important aspects to monitor in the soil are:
pH and Buffer pH: soil acidity determines the growth and health of roots
organic matter: plays an important role in soil structure, water and nutrient holding capacity, reservoir of organic nitrogen and other nutrients
the major elements phosphorus, sulfur, calcium, magnesium, potassium
the trace (or micro) elements boron, zinc, copper, manganese, aluminium and iron.
Soil analysis takes the guesswork out of making fertiliser recommendations and leads to more efficient nutrient management.
Nutrient content and pH vary with soil depth. We suggest to take soil samples from the main soil horizons. Sub soil samples tend to be taken while investigating the suitability of land for hazelnut growing. The analyses results of the sub soil will give information about any chemical imbalances.
Soil analyses of New Zealand top soils (0150 mm depth) frequently indicate low levels of potassium, boron, magnesium, zinc, relatively low pH levels and high aluminium levels.
Excessive soil acidity can reduce growth and yield of hazelnut trees. A large amount of New Zealand soils are naturally acidic with a pH generally in the range of 5 to 6. Soil pH can decline over time due to the acidifying effects of rain, plant growth, fertilization (nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers). Lime (or dolomite if magnesium is required) can be used to improve the pH of the topsoil. Some laboratories conduct a buffer pH or lime requirement test. This test determines how much lime should be applied to adjust the pH to a target level.
Young hazels require potassium (K) for shoot and root growth. Mature hazels have a need for potassium for nut production. Soils with a low K level or a high Mg level require extra potassium. The amounts of available potassium, magnesium and calcium in the soil are interrelated; an excess of any one of them can cause deficiencies of the others.
Phosphorus (P) deficiency has not been a problem in general in hazelnuts despite the low content of P in some soils. Several factors contribute to this: hazelnuts have a good ability to extract P from the soil, P is mobile in the hazel and crop removal of P is relatively small. Generally P fertilisation is not necessary, but if soil analyses indicate very low P levels you may consider a P application before planting. If the pH is very low or very high then the phosphate fertiliser should be applied close to the plant rather than broad spread. Lock up of phosphate can occur within 48 hours in these soils.
The functions different nutrients perform in the hazel are:
phosphorus: root growth and flowering
sulfur: quality aspects like aromatic properties
calcium: soil structure, cell division
potassium: root, shoot and nut growth
boron: bud development and nut quality
zinc: leaf size, height growth
copper: enzyme systems; please monitor build-up in the soil from fungicide sprays
aluminium: toxic element for roots, interferes with phosphorus and magnesium uptake, antagonistic to calcium
manganese: chlorophyll, flowering.
Sustainable Nutrition gives independent advice on soil and plant nutrition. We endeavour to help hazelnut growers to achieve optimal production of hazelnuts.
Hazelnuts have found their way into more non-traditional foods due to the recognition of its nutritional and nutraceutical properties. Among nut species, hazelnuts play a major role in human nutrition and health because of its special composition of fatty acids ( mainly oleic acid), fat soluble bioactives ( tocopherols and phytosterols), vitamins (vitamin E), minerals, amino acids, antioxidant phenolics and dietary fibre. Hazelnuts provide an excellent source of energy (631 kCal/100g) due to its high oil content (~61%). Besides nutritional value, the presence of taste-active components together with aroma-active components can improve the taste and flavour of hazelnut-based products.
The presence of palmitoleic acid allows hazelnut oil to be absorbed quickly into the skin as well as acting as a solar UV filter, thus making it an excellent carrier oil and ingredient in skin preparations.
Elevated serum cholesterol level is a well-known risk factor for coronary heart disease and is a leading cause of mortality in many countries around the world. Monounsaturated fatty acids which are in large quantities in hazelnut oil, are known to decrease the low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease. Research has demonstrated that hazelnut supplementation (40g) in the diet results in total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triacylglycerol Apo B and homosistein reduction of up to 5.3, 2.6, 22.4, 5.3, 0.3, 10.4, and 7.8% respectively. Furthermore, hazelnuts in the diet increases high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and Apo A by 13.9 and 0.3% respectively.
F.Shahidi, Dept. of Biochemistry, Memorial Univ. of Newfoundland, and C. Alasalvar, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Univ. of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, United Kingdom.
Local Research – Hazelnut Oil Composition and Comparisons
The quality of cold pressed hazelnut oil extracted from a mixture of Merville de Bollwiller, Ennis, and Butler hazelnuts grown at ‘The Nutt Ranch’ in Marlborough, was determined by measuring lipid classes, and fatty acids. The oil was tested at Hort. Research in Auckland during September of 2004. The reasons for having our oil tested were:
To be able to give more accurate information about our own products to our customers.
To make a comparison of the fresh hazelnut oil from our orchard, grown and pressed in Marlborough, with hazelnut oil from other parts of the world.
To compare the fatty acids that make up hazelnut oil with virgin olive oil.
The total lipid content, by weight, of the hazelnuts being tested was 48.3%. This is slightly lower than the actual figure due to some oil loss within the extraction equipment. Seven fatty acids were identified by chromatography, among which oleic acid contributed 77.839% to the total, followed by linoleic, palmitic, and stearic acids. Unsaturated fatty acids accounted for 93.183% of the total fatty acids present. Saturated fatty acids made up only 6.817% of the total fatty acids and were composed of palmitic acid and stearic acid.
Hazelnut oil sample tested (oil %)
Comparison with virgin olive oil (oil %)
International norm for hazelnut oil (oil %)
16:0 (palmitic acid)
16:1 (palmitoleic acid)
18:0 (stearic acid)
18:1 (oleic acid) (=Omega-9)
18:2 (linoleic acid (=Omega-6)
18:3 (linolenic acid) (=Omega-3)
20:1 (gadoleic acid)
We were extremely pleased with the results of our data as it shows good consistency with fatty acid measurements internationally. All of the different fatty acids were well within the international norms. The data gained, as well as the investigation of the makeup of our oil will help us in answering questions about the fatty acid content of our oil by interested customers in a more informed way. We found it very interesting that hazelnut oil compares extremely well with Olive oil, the best part, of course, being able to ingest the oil in the form of fresh hazelnuts or as cold pressed oil. We were amazed at the amount of research being done on Omega-3 fatty acid, Omega-6 fatty acid, and Omega-9 fatty acid internationally. The uses that our body makes of each of these are pretty incredible and it is notable that we can only get Omega-3 and Omega-6 within our diet. Our body is able to manufacture a limited amount of Omega-9 but most of what we need must still come from within our diet.
And finally, aside from the fact that hazelnut oil has super health giving properties, it also has a terrific aroma and taste. It is an excellent replacement for butter on potatoes and vegetables and is perfect for use in baking where an oil is called for.
DW & BL Null, Nutt Ranch Products, Marlborough, New Zealand
In this issue we are visiting the orchard and business of Bev Taylor and Gordon Mounsey on the outskirts of Christchurch.
We bought our 11 ½ acres in 1990 and planted shelter trees. Over the next 5-6 years we planted the hazelnuts; Whiteheart with Alexandra and Merville de Bollwiller as their pollinators. We lost very few and the trees grew.
When they started producing nuts we found there was a shortage of processing units. We joined Ted Kempe, Bob and Grace Laing and Roger Rose in forming “Associated Nut Harvesters”, using Ted’s equipment at Amberley. This worked quite well for 3-4 years. We then disbanded this company. Ted continued north of Christchurch and we developed “Divine Taste of Canterbury”. Divine Taste has a small nutcracker that we use when we have groups on site. Most of the cracking is done by the Hazelnut Company Ltd. As I have found it a labour intensive activity.
Marketing is very select and Niche oriented. In the past we have targeted the supermarkets and to do this you need bar codes and good labelling. We maintain these markets but have not recently expanded in the supermarkets. A distributor may be necessary if we are to do so.
More rewarding financially is the value added products we do. The most popular is Dukkah followed by caramelized hazelnuts. I have worked with a chocolatier and two chefs – Phillipe Meyer (from Celia Hay Cooking School) and Mhairi Maxwell. We have experimented with a range of products. Now I supply gift boxes and boutique shops. I make up the products in packaging and price to suit.
After fourteen years we are in profit from our hazelnuts. Divine Taste has people on site by invitation and we have a selection of Canterbury products which they can buy ex. Kernelz walnuts, NZ kelp and Canterbury olive oils. Hazelnuts have introduced us to a wide variety of people from chefs and journalists as well as growers and nurserymen. We have found this rewarding and interesting.