Sunday, August 25, 2013


Very quick post here, we're into urgent hand harvest TODAY; still some days before machine harvest will be sensible.  (See UPDATE below, also)

Besides the hazel plants we sell, if you grow hazelnuts you got from Arbor Day, or "Wisconsin" - chances are over 90% you're actually growing Badgersett genetics; and there's something you need to know- today.

Some Badgersett hazels - DO NOT TURN BROWN WHEN RIPE.  In particular, the G-029-N tissue culture clones will ripen when entirely white- then vanish as animals eat them while you wait.  We've found some seedlings in all breeding lines that share this characteristic, some of which obviously took their pollen from a G-029-N somewhere.

These nuts are FULLY RIPE:

Above is life size.  NOTE_ the husk are entirely green- the nuts are white (actually a very pale but genuine green color).

Quarter for scale- NOTE - all the nuts easily come cleanly out of their husks, "abcision" is complete, the nuts are no longer taking resources from the plant.

And yes; these nuts are completely "filled", big enough for any commercial market, and with near zero pellicle fiber.

At the recent meeting of the New York Nut Growers, the Zarnowski's G-029-N clones were possibly the best looking plants there.  Our own have looked pretty ratty all year, but that has not prevented them from bearing a very good crop.

CHECK YOUR PLANTS FOR RIPENESS DAILY starting NOW.  They are ripening extremely rapidly this year, the fastest I've ever seen them do it.  Hot days make it faster yet.

PICK QUICKLY- before the mice and birds catch on that they're ripe.  At the moment- the bluejays have not discovered that the fields have lots of ripe nuts YET - this is the pattern every year.  There is a "lull" in pest pressure at the beginning- but pest theft accelerates as the season progresses.

One of your best deterrents for bluejays and crows is simply human presence in the field.  They'll avoid you.   We tend to split our picking teams up for this very reason; it slows the thieves down.

Off to the field to pick, fast.  We have around 50 of these tissue culture clones in production; and hundreds of seedlings from this breeding direction.  Many of the seedlings are not ripe- yet.  But it will happen fast- keep your eyes peeled.

UPDATE: at noon: Paranoia Is Good For You!

We have this particular clone planted in 5 different micro-climates here on Badgersett- specifically so we can measure differences.  Checking one of the more remote this morning- we were struck by how much smaller the crop was...  until it occurred to me to check for missing nuts.

You can SEE where nuts- and nut clusters - were, if you're trained, and you look.  In the current case- after counting the "empty stubs" - I'm guessing at least 50% of this outer planting - HAS ALREADY BEEN STOLEN.  They're gone- particularly the clusters, most nuts remaining are singletons.  This is a pattern we associate with CROWS.  Who are crazy smart- in case you haven't been keeping up with current research; it's now accepted by peer reviewed science that: crows are as smart as great apes; they remember YOUR face, from year to year, live for decades, and teach their young how to avoid you, and how to find food.  Give it a google.

IF Blogger is cooperating, this photo can show you 3 places where hazels, or hazel clusters, grew very recently- and were picked before I got there.  They typically leave a blunt clean scar at the tip of a twig- look, and you'll learn.  Pick a few, and look at what's left.  Then look before you pick...

Theft is already ahead of us- and it accelerates with the season.  I still don't see or hear jays- but the crows have learned to avoid us entirely, and steal as fast as they can.  Be aware!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Badgersett hazels at Oberlin College

Managed to stop in on my way back from the New York Nut Growers summer meeting; and was truly delighted to find the substantial research and demonstration planting of Badgersett hazel germplasm just outside the Oberlin Lewis Center for Environmental Studies - more than thriving.  Please note- these plants were installed only 2.5 years ago; all as standard tubelings, with about 8 clonal divisions for reference plants, including the G-029-N tissue culture clone.

To my additional delight, they're running a chicken tractor in the hazels, with about 15 Lace Wyandottes providing a little nitrogen and soil service.  The folks here, left to right, are Griff Radulsksi, Sean Hayes (Lewis Center Manager), and John Bergen.

These plants were tubelings- just 2 and a half years ago.  The tallest stems here have put on about 4 feet of new growth- so far- this year; Sean is 6 feet tall +.  Many of the tubelings are putting on catkins for next year, now; usually an indication that there will be substantial nut bearing next year.  There are even a few nuts this year on the clones.

How did they grow these so fast??  This is, in fact, as fast as we've ever seen these hazels grow; probably the fastest, period (terrific job, Oberlin!).  This plot is used as a teaching research plot, and has been managed as a randomized fertilization demonstration/experiment; with 3 levels of fertility.  Oberlin students will be measuring and doing statistics on them in the coming school year.  A really big part of "how" - is very simple.  They followed instructions, without adding random sorts of unapproved "improvements".  :-)

This is one line of the Oberlin hazel tubelings; July 14, 2011.

Another reason for you to come to Badgersett this Saturday for the Field Day- we just planted about 3 acres of hazel tubelings- 3 weeks ago.  They look awfully small- but they're on their way.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hazel genetics in the pipeline-

We have a whole lot of directions we work on with the hazels; including "big nuts", "really thin shells" and "great flavor" - oh, and "a crop, that ripens no matter what".  Here, for example is one of our research plants - fully ripe now, although so many hazels are ripening very late this year:

It doesn't look that impressive- until you crack it- and it's pretty nearly all kernel...

Don't forget!  This Saturday is Field Day.  Tons to see, although most hazels are not ripe.  And; be aware, starting this year, we're having TWO Field Days; 3rd Sat in August for hazels, and now last Sat in Sept, for chestnuts and hickory/pecans.  Come to both is you can!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Vote for the Badgersett Climate CoLab Proposal!

In mid June, Jonah Adels talked us into putting in a proposal for this year's MIT Climate CoLab competition. We're now semi-finalists, and need your votes to make it to the final presentation round at MIT this November, where the grand prize is $10,000. The judges like our proposal, which focuses on one of the many next steps for getting Woody Ag launched as an industry, and for getting even better plants into your fields.
Just making it to the next stage would be a huge help for getting the word out, and gaining support for Woody Ag and Badgersett. We also feel that if we make it to the final round there's a good chance we'll win the grand prize, which would go a long way towards speeding up the expansion of our production demonstration and clonal propagation work!

To make it past this stage, we need your help! Please do the following, at least up to step 3:

  1. If you need convincing, go to and read the proposal.
  2. Register on the Climate CoLab system so that you can vote. You can click here to get to the registration page right away. NOTE: each voter must register with both a unique screen name and a unique valid e-mail address. They are trying to make sure nobody cheats, which does make the process a little more work.
  3. Go back to the Woody Agriculture proposal page here, and click on the Vote for Proposal button.
  4. Share this blog post with your friends, and encourage them to vote and share! Click on the e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, Blogger or Google+ sharing buttons below.
  5. Comment with your support and suggestions here and on the Climate CoLab proposal page.
  6. Look at other Climate CoLab contests if you like, and register your vote in the 14 other contests that have entries at this stage in the game.
UPDATE: Aug. 29:

  Folks we're doing pretty ok; but we can do better, and your help REALLY HELPS.  I actually just "registered" and voted on this myself for the first time- and DID have some exasperated moments; I'm not really a Luddite, but sometimes- computers seem to hate me.  I persevered- and triumphed- when the registration form once more REFUSED to register me- but this time- "because a person with this screen name and password already exists."  Me.  I was signed it- it just didn't admit it.  But it let me vote.

PLEASE NOTE - when you're registered, and vote- you can ALSO click on the "Comments" tab- and leave a more detailed comment there.  THIS HELPS TOO!  Please- give it a few minutes.

Thanks- and we'll keep you updated.

2013 Field Day: Saturday, August 17

Come join us on Saturday, August 17; there is much to see, as always. We've got three acres of hazel tubelings we just put in on the back hill in July, right next door to the field of hickory-pecans that's starting to come into actual production, currently being mowed by the sheep. Our hazels have another very serious crop set this year; it's running late from the cold and wet, but it's still on its way. Some of the highlights:
  • The spring was very late, and continuing lack of heat in the summer is giving rise to a substantially later than usual ripeness profile for most of the hazels. You'll get to see nearly the whole crop on the bushes this time around!
  • Big crop this year, even after last year's drought.
  • The cool, wet year has also shifted which pests are most prominent.
  • We've got a new field of tubelings just planted at the end of July. Come see what a freshly machine-planted field of hazels should look like!
  • A focus on pre-harvest pest and field management.
As usual, we've got both introductory and advanced tours on Woody Agriculture, focusing on Hazels. The advanced tours are still TBD; provide feedback in the comments on what you'd most like to see.

Suggested possible advanced tours:

  • Establishment and Nuts on the North Hill, including our field of Hickory-Pecans just now coming into production, and blight on pure American Chestnut
  • Biomass and Mature Field Management. Things to do with all the wood, and long-term weeds.
  • Pest Management and Hazelnut Harvest

Also as usual, special Field-Day discounts on plant order handling, and no minimum order. Special Very Early Bird discount for the 2013 Woody Ag Short Course!