The mechanics of pollination

HGA newsletter, June 2004

Bryan Thomas recently attended two lectures given by Professor Karl Niklas who is a visiting Erskine fellow at the University of Canterbury. He is the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Plant Biology at Cornell University. The subjects of his lectures were “Allometry of plant growth” and “The Biomechanics of Wind Pollination”.

The Biometrics of Wind Pollination

In this lecture Professor Niklas demonstrated his work on airflow around female wind pollinated flower structures and how the shape influences the airflow, and the consequences for successful pollination. Using pine trees as the prime example he carried out wind tunnel tests on receptive pinecones and plotted the course of both neutrally buoyant bubbles and actual pollen grains around the cone. The cones were surprisingly efficient at trapping pollen grains in eddies circulating around and through the cones and that, by placing the actual flower deep within the cone in an apparently inaccessible position, the chance of a pollen grain landing in the right place was enhanced.

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Hazelnuts for taste and health

HGA newsletter, January 2004

Fresh hazelnuts are certainly good for us. They are a good source of energy, high in monounsaturated fatty acid and oleic acid, and very low in saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are a good source of micronutrients, vitamin A, E, B12, and amino acids. And best of all they are cholesterol free. 

We usually think of hazelnuts being chocolate covered as a sweet, but they have so many other uses:

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Murray Redpath

HGA newsletter, January 2004

In this issue Murray Redpath of “Wairata Hazels”, near Opotiki, is sharing some of his vast experience of Hazelnut growing with us.

Wairata Hazels is part of Wairata Forest Farm, a 575 hectare property in the hills of the Eastern Bay of Plenty.  

Historically the property has been run as a sheep and cattle farm with occasional income from wild animals (deer, opossums), tourism, and forest products (primarily native timber).

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One in 8000!

From ‘Sun-Diamond Grower’, written by Jamie K. Hartshorn

HGA newsletter, January 2004

That’s about how many hazelnut seedlings Oregon plant breeders must go through before one is worthy of release.

It pays to be patient if you’re a plant breeder. Take scientists at Oregon State University’s Agricultural Experiment Station for instance. Their quest for a new hazelnut variety for the kernel market took some 17 years from initial trials to final release. Many thousands of seedlings later, along came ‘Willamette’, introduced in 1990. “The new variety has shown both positive and negative points,” says Dr. Shawn Mehlenbacher, associate professor and plant breeder with OSU’s Hazelnut Breeding Program. The largest planting to date is a 40 acre block that went in last Spring, “but most growers are taking a wait and see attitude,” he says.

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Off to the market

HGA newsletter, August 2003

We’ve spent all year fertilizing, mowing, pruning, worrying, planning, pollinating, spraying, raking, rolling, harvesting, cleaning….a lot of organised work to get those little nuts into those sacks. It’s easy to think that this is the end of the line and look only to next season’s production. There is one other job that is at least as important as all of the production work put together…..and that’s MARKETING.

As hazelnut producers we have several options open to us for the disposal of our nuts once they have been harvested and all of those options involve planned marketing. We can sell to a processing company as a commodity, or sell to an agent, or we can package and sell our nuts directly to the public either in shell or, with a bit of work, as kernels. Or we can develop a range of products to sell or a combination of any of the above options. Our marketing can be as complex or as simple as we make it but we always have the choice as to how much control we have over our products. 

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Alan Mathewson


HGA newsletter, August 2003

From 2300 Sheep to 2300 Hazelnut Trees in a month! YOU MUST BE NUTS !!!! was the reaction of some of the relatives when we told them we had purchased a property and were going into Hazelnuts. I had been farming (sheep and a few beef) in the Five Forks downlands area of North Otago for the last 14 years in partnership with Janet. Some years ago 

I put in a shelter belt on a paddock near the house with the idea of putting it in Hazelnuts. Local growers Don and Helen Newlands informed me of a field day on his property. I ordered 1200 Hazelnut plants and pollinators from Hazelnut Nurseries and then started looking at where to put them! We decided a separate block from the farm would give more options, so for several months looked around the Oamaru area for a suitable block. 

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