Dave & Bev Null


HGA newsletter, winter 2003

In this issue our growers’ corner takes a look at the hazelnut operation at the Nutt Ranch in Blenheim, and we are listening to Bev and Dave Null.

This property was purchased in 1995 as 8ha of pasture land. The land was purchased with the growing of hazelnuts in mind. The land is marginal for horticulture use and is in a dry area of Marlborough.

Hazels are not deep rooted and our soil, although light and stony, is rich and has good PH. Norwesters are a bother in early summer as the hazel leaves are fairly delicate and can sustain some wind damage. We have an excellent water supply for both ourselves and our irrigation.

At present we have 3000 trees with 500 at 7yrs, 500 at 5yrs, 500 at 4yrs, and 1500 at 3 yrs.


Our main crop is a New Zealand bred hazel, “Whiteheart”. It is an excellent confectionery nut with a fine nutty flavour. It fills the shell exceptionally well and blanches nearly 100%. We have Narrowed our pollinator range over 5 years to 4 which work well for us. These are Alexandra (best), Merville de Bowiller (good), Butler (earlyish), and Ennis (earlyish).

Our tree spacings are somewhat different thanwhat most written material suggests. The Whiteheart is not a large tree and it is fairly upright. We have chosen 4 meters between rows with 3 meters between trees in the row.


We are using Nitrofoska as a general fertilizer in late Winter. The amount is based on soil and leaf testing during the previous season. Our plan is to replace what elements are used by our trees and see annual growth of between 150-200mm in the season.


We try to keep the centre of the tree open with no crossing limbs. We remove some fruiting wood from most trees to promote new growth. We shorten to an outside bud all extra long growth. We try to leave as large a framework as possible.


Our irrigation consists of 50mm mains with 40mm leaders and 19mm laterals. We are using 4litre/hour drippers which are serving us well. We keep close records on all irrigation during the dry summer. We have found that the Hazels need extra irrigation during nut formation and then again during their final maturing.

Sucker Control

The Whiteheart variety produces large amounts of suckers at the base of each tree in early summer and again in early Autumn. We spray with Buster when the suckers are young and tender but clean up the trees with the secateurs during the Winter.


Our harvest is done by hand as a family affair, but our plan is to eventually operate a vacuum running off the tractor’s PTO as the trees become larger. Our nuts are washed carefully and then dried in onion sacks in the sun to about 5% moisture content before cracking, shelling, grading and sorting. We store the shelled nuts in plastic drums until sold.

To The Future

We have just completed a commercial kitchen and a building for the processing, retailing, and storage of nuts. Next year there will be a need for a full time worker in the orchard…..the tractor needs replacing….the harvesting and shelling of the nuts must become more mechanized to speed the processing and save our backs.
We would also like to see more people sharing their experiences and knowledge. Contact with other growers and processors is extremely important for the industry.
And, of course, we wish to find the time to just sit on our veranda and enjoy the day!


We consider the marketing of our products to be as important as the growing of the nuts. Our marketing strategies are based on the quality and freshness of the products and/or their health giving properties. We sell from the “ranch”, from markets, by order, and by e-commerce through our website which has become an exciting part of the business.

Pollenizer management in a hazelnut orchard

S.A. Mehlenbacher and A.N. Miller – Oregon State University, 1988

HGA newsletter, Winter 2003

Three factors must be considered in choosing pollinizer cultivars: 1) the amount of viable pollen produced, 2) compatibility, and 3) time of pollen shed.

The amount of viable pollen produced by a hazelnut tree is largely a function of the number of catkins on the tree and the viability of the pollen produced. Some cultivars set pollen in abundance Others typically set very few catkins. Some cultivars drop their catkins prior to pollen shed. Since one good Daviana catkin is estimated to produce 4 million pollen grains, the amount of pollen produced by a single pollinizer tree is tremendous.

Incompatibility occurs when plants having functional pollen and functional female flowers are unable to set seed when self-pollinated or crossed with some of their relatives. Incompatibility is a physiological between pollination and fertilization. Pollinizers are required in hazelnut orchards because cultivars are self-incompatible. They are also cross-incompatible in certain combinations. Hazelnuts are similar to Brassica species (cabbage, broccoli, and their relatives) in that all have the sporophytic incompatibility system All pollen produced by a tree exhibits the same incompatibility reaction. The reaction is under simple genetic control. There is one locus (one gene), the S-locus (for self-incompatibility) with 22 known alleles. Don’t let this terminology scare you. In humans, there is a locus controlling eye color, an allele for brown eyes, and an allele for blue eyes. Humans have a locus controlling hair color, an allele for brown hair, and an allele for blond hair. In hazelnuts, there is one S-locus which controls the incompatibility reaction, and alleles S1, S2, S3,…..S22. Hazelnut trees, like humans, are diploids. Thus at every locus, they have two alleles. Brown eyed people may have two alleles for brown eyes or one allele for brown eyes and another for blue eyes. The allele for blue eyes is recessive. In hazelnuts, both alleles are always expressed in the female flowers. One or both may be expressed in the pollen. If a given allele expressed in the pollen is met with the same allele in the female flower, the cross is incompatible. In simpler terms, if like meets like, the reaction is incompatible. If a given allele expressed in the pollen is met with different alleles in the female flower, the cross is compatible. Because of the dominance relationships among S-alleles, some crosses are compatible yet the reciprocal cross is incompatible.

A third factor to consider in choosing pollinizer cultivars is time of pollen shed. It is essential that the pollinizer shed pollen when the female flowers of the main crop cultivar are receptive. Pollen which is shed before the female flowers emerge is wasted. Unpollinated female flowers remain receptive for up to 3 months, so a late pollinizer can be very effective. Although actual dates vary from year to year, relative dates of pollen shed are consistent. Female flowers and catkins respond differently to temperature. In colder winters, female flower development is accelerated relative to catkin elongation. Thus a pollinizer which sheds at the ideal time one year may shed too early or too late the next year. Some cultivars shed their pollen over a very short time while others shed over a much longer time. By planting 2 or 3 rather than a single pollinizer, growers increase the odds of having pollen shed at the optimum time.

Another dehiscence and pollen release from catkins requires lower relative humidity and warmer temperatures. If temperatures are too cold (320F or less) and humidity is too high (85%+) then pollen will not be shed.

Temperature will also have an effect on pollen viability. If temperatures exceed 730F then pollen viability decreases. Optimum pollen germination in artificial culture has been obtained at 68-720F, but will also germinate at 34-390F.

Once pollen is released from the anther, wind is required for its distribution. The absence of wind could result in pollen dropping to surfaces below the catkins. Theoretically, pollen could travel about 250ft. in 36 seconds and drop 3 feet. if a 15mi/hr wind was blowing. However, hazelnut pollen is moved by eddy diffusion where the air movement rolls and swirls. Pollen consentration drops very quickly to relatively low amounts around 46-72 ft. distance away from the orchard edge. At this time we do not know what the required amount of pollen is to guarantee optimum nut set and development. However, in 2 research articles Schuster (5,6) states, “In observation in the field is shows that trees planted 40-60 ft. from a pollinizer bear good crops though the ones at 60 ft. sometimes appear light.” and “In the field it has been noted that trees more than 50ft. from the pollinizer yield smaller crops than closer.”

The above article has been abridged to conserve space in our news letter. Data tables showing compatible crosses, compatible cultivars, Cultivar pollen shed compatibility, Pollen concentrations at different distances, and charts showing pollinizer planting options within orchards have been left out. If a full copy of the article is wanted, please contact the Editor.

Ted Kempe

Amberley, North Canterbury

HGA newsletter, Autumn 2003

In this issue our growers’ corner takes a look at Hazelwood Hazelnuts, and in we are listening to Ted Kempe of Amberley, who is one of the pioneer leaders in New Zealand’s young hazelnut industry. Ted has kindly given us the statistics of his operations.

PlantedAugust 1989
Area3.5 acres (1.4 ha)
SoilWakanui: Comparatively shallow topsoil on a clay base.
ShelterTasman Poplars. These are compatible to a saline atmosphere.
Block sizes6 x 50m x 50m blocks
SpacingShelter Belts: 4m in rows with 5m between rows.
Headlands5m between last hazelnut and shelter belt. (Not Enough)
IrrigationPump water .5km from well. Irrigated shelter belts with 4litre drippers.
Irrigated hazelnuts with 2 x 4 litre drippers, 1m either side of the tree.
FertiliserNitrophoska TE Blue special
Weed controlRoundup with Versatil to remove clover.
Sucker controlParaquat (Gramoxone)
Block layout1 row pollinators to 5 rows Whitehearts.
Hazelnuts180 pollinators; 560 Whitehearts.

Hazelwood Mistakes

ShelterPlanted six months prior to planting hazels, resulting in wind damage.
IrrigationHigh iron content resulted in blockage of drippers. Hazels stressed due to lack of moisture.
HeadlandsNot big enough for turning machinery at end of rows.


• Whiteheart is an excellent hazel with many qualities.

• Prune to a vase shape for first two years.

• Weed control is essential.

• Nuts fall onto the ground when ripe. Eventually mechanical harvesting is necessary.

• Moisture content of harvested nuts has to be reduced from around 24% to 9%.

• Yield: Suggest 4kg at year 10 seems to be realistic.

• Beware of poplars and willows for shelter because their surface root systems will chase water (from your irrigation system) and deprive your hazels.

• Roughly allow $1.00 per kg for maintenance/growing expenses per year and $1.00 per kg harvesting costs. These costs reduce as your orchard becomes more productive. Greater productivity does not necessarily mean greater expenses.

Ted Kempe
307 Beach Road

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