Monday, December 3, 2012

not good news update 1

It's Monday; Meg did have her major reconstructive surgery on her knee last Friday.  Here's the back story if you're just starting to follow this stuff.

The doctor, a top Mayo orthopedic surgeon we are delighted with, said he was "very, very, pleased with how the operation went."  It did, however, take 5 hours, with a surgical team of at least 8 people we met beforehand.  Being under full general anesthesia for 5 hours straight is tough just in itself.

She now has 6 titanium screws, and 3 (I think) titanium plates in her right knee.  And she is not supposed to put ANY weight on it; for 3 months.  The expectation is to recover at least 90% of original mobility; the healed restoration should allow that.

Meanwhile; Meg has now been in bed and immobile for going on 2 weeks; which is enough to cause weakness all on its own, of course.  We're hoping to have her back home here tomorrow, Tuesday.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Not good news.

Hi folks.  If you haven't heard from us in a while- this is probably why:

That's Meg's leg, today.  The apparatus you're looking at consists of 2 steel pins through her skin screwed into her right tibia; there are two more screwed into the femur at the top end of the high-tech carbon-fiber stiffening bar.

She broke her leg on Thanksgiving; and was operated on to install all this that night at the Mayo Clinic.  She has another operation scheduled for tomorrow morning (Friday 30th) to actually do the internal pinning necessary to reassemble the top of the tibia.

You'll recall that we have horses now... they do a tremendous amount of work for us in clearing grass and brush before chestnut harvest and grazing grass in the hazels; they're highly compatible with these crops, when supervised carefully.

One of the horses we have here now is trained to do heavy draft work, however; a registered Spotted Draft in fact.  So- we were working on that...

Meg is a highly experienced horsewoman, having grown up on a ranch in Colorado which sometimes had a herd of over 200 horses (besides the ~20,000 head of cattle and 9,000 sheep).  But.  Not a lot of experience driving draft horses.  In the training process, of horse and Meg- the horse was hitched to a "stone boat" load- and Meg got tangled in the hitch.

We have an abundance of hindsight at this point, of course.  But meanwhile, Meg is entirely immobilized for a month at least, which means she needs care, also.

So- that's why it may take us a while to get back to you.  The Lemonade side- both Meg and I will be spending more time in the house for a while; so there's a fair chance that after tomorrow's surgery, some of that time will be expended on communication.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Plant Catalog Update

If you're on our catalog email list, you should already have seen this little note from If you want us to add you to the list, just send an email to that address!

Hello Folks,


As those of you in neighboring states should already know, the Hazel Maze at Badgersett Farm is now open, and will be on weekends through the end of October. We now have a Facebook page with the most recent pictures and status updates for the maze. Check it out and Like us at:

The hazel and chestnut harvests are in, and hickory-pecan harvest is nearly finished. With the seed in, we've updated our plant catalogs for 2013 orders. The largest changes are to the NeoHybrid Hazel catalog, where we now have a little bit of a buying guide.

MACHINE PICKED hazels are now a larger part of the catalog. 2012 marks the second year that we've harvested nuts for both eating and seed by machine. It's clear: this works well enough that machine harvest with this style of picker is definitely going to be a major direction for industry development. Also, in most cases it is already substantially less work to harvest by machine, even in our patchy research-oriented plantings.

For several reasons:
- The earlier you place your order, the more likely you will be to get your plant order on the date requested without substitutions.
- Ordering now locks in your selection, and protects against price increases.
- The catalog is getting more complex, and we may be removing some of the less popular options within the next few months.
- Large orders placed now allow us to prioritize seed processing and handling in order to allow us to deliver as close to the requested date as possible.
- Large orders (over $1,000) can pay 50% now to reserve your place in the shipping queue. If you are able to complete payment by March 1, we will still apply the 5% early payment discount.

The newest plant catalog links are available at

As always, check for the latest news and plant availability at

--> And don't forget, the holidays are coming soon- order your Chestnuts for stuffing or roasting before they run out!

Good Growing,
From the Folks at Badgersett Research

p.s. Interested in buying seed? It's not in the catalogs yet, but since our seed harvest has been increasing, we are intending to again offer hazel and chestnut seed for sale, possibly as early as late 2012. Select and hickory seed will still be unavailable due to limited supply.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hazel Maze on Facebook-

Trying to keep up with the times!

The Hazel Maze now has its own Facebook page; where we can post updates and let folks know exactly what's going on every weekend.

Give us a Like!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Hazel Maze and Pick-Your-Own Chestnuts!

A long time in the making, we are now ready to open our Amazing Hazel Maze for the month of October. The season has been good enough for our chestnuts that we have some available for pick-your-own for the first time as well- definitely exciting to pick that food out of the leaves on the ground!

Below is the note we just sent out to our email list. For directions, check the "About Badgersett" page on the main web site
We hope to see you here, and we'll post more details here as we can.

This Sunday October 7, and the remaining Saturdays and Sundays in October, from 1PM-5PM.

Hello folks,

This is a quick note going out to our "nearby" friends from us here at Badgersett– this Sunday we will be opening our hazel maze for the first time, and we'll have pick-your-own chestnuts available for the first time ever as well!  The maze will be open for the rest of the weekends in October, but chestnut harvest is tapering off and they are likely to be harder to get, and maybe unavailable, later on.
Our half-acre maze is fun for the whole family- plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, and room for the kids to run around as well!  Once you've been fully a-mazed, spend some time touring the farm or picking up your own chestnuts.
Admission is $8, $5 for children 10 and under. If you've got volunteer credit, that can be used for half of the fee.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A new threat to woody crops.

In the news today in the New York Times; 2-4-D resistant corn has moved closer to regulatory approval- as a fruit and vegetable growers group has withdrawn their opposition.

Yes, 2-4-D will hurt your hazels, or chestnuts, or almost any other tree crop.  A modest amount will kill them- but more insidiously, tiny amounts will "hurt" your trees, resulting in lower crop production, or decreased crop quality.  Besides the effect on those aiming for organic-certified status.

Dow has "promised" to change the formulation of the 2-4-D, so it's not so volatile; and change the label on the corn, so farmers are "required" to use only the "new" formula- and apparently the Save Our Crops Coalition has decided that's good enough.

It isn't good enough- not if it's YOUR field that gets wiped out, when a local farmer decides he can't afford the new and improved formula; and just uses the old stuff sitting in the barn that his father bought in 1975.  Will that happen?  Yes it will.  The other catastrophe waiting- the "new formula"

If Dow is serious about responsible chemical use- they should be required to set up a fund to pay damages for any instances of abuse; regardless of "whose fault" it was.  Its the tree crop growers who will be ruined.  Loss of livelihood and investment is a real possibility; all that's required is some one farmer who is momentarily careless.

This is a brand new development; not sure what will happen next; my guess would be that a substantial faction of Save Our Crops will split off- and declare loudly they are NOT satisfied with label changes and untested new pesticide formulas.  You may want to keep informed.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Combined perils of climate change and increased biodiversity...

So; walking back home from the greenhouse 2 days ago- after a technically "severe" thunderstorm - quite late in the season, with 3/4" torrential rain and 1" hailstones- I very nearly walked my bare toes right into this:

This isn't the biggest snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) we've seen wandering through our woody agriculture plantings, by a good deal; but this fellow was certainly big enough to remove bare toes, if they went by within range.

We see them rarely; more often in the pond than out.  This one was apparently heading towards the pond, which is at an all time low.  Looking for water, in the drought, maybe.  I'm puzzled a bit by the smoothness of the shell; our other, bigger, snappers have usually had the typical very rough upper scutes- this one looks like it's been tumbled in a rock polisher.  Old?  Perhaps.  We didn't try to count rings on the scales (possible sometimes).

Not agressive.  But with excellent eyesight, and a strike as fast as a snake, if motivated.

We're glad to see them.  Also glad not to trip on them, barefoot.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

No More Tubelings for 2012; Latest Planting Dates Updated

Hello folks, here's a final fall plant availability update. We are now (still) taking orders for the 2013 planting season. We've stopped shipping plants for 2012 delivery, a bit earlier than in the previous couple of years, because:
1) We are sold out of tubelings in a good state for late planting; what we have on hand is either too actively growing to reliably go dormant in time, or too close to dormancy to put in enough roots.
2) In the recent few years, fall planting has been overall less successful than before, and some of our growers have had very serious mortality. Most of this appears to be a result of unusual weather extremes: early freezes, excessive winter moisture and freezing farther south have contributed to direct mortality. Extended growing seasons or early warmth has also been confusing the plants and adding to transplant and seasonal-clock-reset stress.

Given these developments, we can no longer provide our survival guarantee this late in the season. Our updated latest planting dates are:
July 30 for zone 5 and colder.
August 30 for zone 6 and warmer.

In the past it has been useful to plant later in the season, both for us and our growers, so we are working on making later planting more reliable again. But for the time being, it isn't, so we want to take steps to reduce dead plants and unhappy customers!

Coming soon, some new plant categories available for the 2012 season...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Nut Predator Warning

An urgent note to all hazel growers- we're seeing increased nut theft this year, and it's accelerating.

We're talking about rodents and birds, primarily.  In all years, there will be "theft"; but this year it seems to be exceptional to us.  The nuts are disappearing.

In our experience, less experienced hazel growers tend to see hazel bushes with few nuts, and assume the bush simply never had many.  Often this is not the case- predators remove them; and very stealthily, so the gradual loss is not noticed.

As a reminder; one of the papers I submitted for my Masters was an original piece of Ethology; a summer long field study of Black Tern social behavior- I basically minored in Animal Behavior, and am a trained observer.

Which has turned out critically important on several occasions; in one, it took us weeks to discover that bluejays had deciphered our plant marking process- and were using it to harvest the best nuts, and best plants, before we actually got to them.  Sounds hard to believe; but we proved it.  Amateur observers would not have noticed the jays' behavior- it was silent, (very unlike jays) concentrated (25 jays in a flock) and limited to very early morning hours only- when humans were not in the field, because of heavy dew.

A couple of years later, our local crows started behaving similarly; though they did not need pre-marked plants; and their restriction on time in the field was even more acute- they started specifically at sunrise, and left the fields before any humans were (normally) out of bed.  I discovered this by following the rules of animal behavior research- get out and watch, until you find out- all night if necessary.

We teach numerous ways to intercept nut thieves in our Short Course; but the #1 tool is "Be Aware!" - and take action of some kind; most effectively quick harvest.  The nuts can disappear rapidly once the thieves get focused.

We think this year is exceptional because of the drought.  Corn usually abundantly available to crows is far less available, and often of poor quality- the animals are hungry, and the hazels may represent the only easy food source available for miles.

This photo was taken by Brandon, one morning a few days ago.  If Blogger is working right, you should be able to click on it and get access to the full file size.  If you zoom in- the crows become visible.

This photo is a "blow up" of the previous one, doctored with editing software to bump up contrast and sharpness; so the crows can be seen.  If you do the same to the rest of the photo- there are about 30 in this one snippet, about 100 crows in the entire picture when you count; Brandon estimated only 60...

They only flew and revealed themselves when Brandon responded to 2 watch crows, and "chased them".  Two calling crows turned into a flock of 100 hiding birds.  .

REALIZE- YOUR CROWS KNOW YOU.  They watch you.  Do you hear a crow cawing a minute or so after you step outside?  That's the "watchman", telling the others you're moving.  No, I'm not making this up, or delusional- crows are extraordinarily intelligent, as researchers have finally been documenting in the past few years.

That's one of the few good points to crows- ours know for a fact that we will shoot them if we have the least chance.  They also know we go to great lengths to sneak up on them (not easy).  When sufficiently harassed, the flock will usually decide other food is less dangerous, and quit (for a while).  They'll be back, though

We have not succeeded in training bluejays to stay away- and they become very quiet and fly furtively when stealing nuts- if you're not looking for them, you will not see them.  We have slowed them down with various techniques, and we no longer mark bushes- for them.

BE AWARE.  This is a tough year; the theft can be extensive.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Biodiversity in woody agriculture crops...

It's a basic part of the concept of woody agriculture that the biodiversity possible in a permanent hazel, or chestnut, etc., field is going to be far higher than in any row crop monoculture.  We just now had a truly spectacular demonstration of that.

While serving as the "bagger" on the hazel picking machine in the Illinois field; I suddenly saw something odd come down the chute with the hazel clusters.  "MOUSE!" my brain yelled- I'd never seen one come through with the nuts, but in fact the deer mice (Peromyscus sp.) not only climb up in the hazel bushes to eat nuts, but sometime build nests there, renovating old bird nests.

I automatically grabbed it and threw it behind the harvester- and only then did my brain register- "wings."  That was a bat - not a mouse.  A bat?  In a hazel bush- at noon?  Oh, yes.

We stopped the machine, got off and searched- I thought it likely the bat would be stunned; probably desperately hurt, going through a harvest machine is not what those tiny bones were designed for.  Brandon found it- on the ground, looking exactly like a dead leaf.

I worked with mammals in grad school- this is a male Eastern Red Bat; they're solitary, and "tree" bats, not cave bats.  They belong in the hazels; but this is the first one we've ever seen.  I've had practice handling bats, and held this one correctly; bare hands on feet, glove to keep teeth occupied.

He was stunned- but in fact I couldn't find anything broken.  He gradually got over the stun as I held him and we hurriedly took photos- who'd ever believe it, otherwise?  As he started to squirm, the hazard that those sharp needle teeth would reach my bare fingers grew, and I had no desire to discuss rabies shots with anyone- so I released him...

And he flew off.  Perfectly.  Completely unhurt.

So now in addition to the frogs doing our insect control for us- we can add resident bats.  No spray; permanent habitat.  It works.

Come and see in Minnesota this Saturday!  The hazels are ripe; we'll be running the harvester, and showing the hazels thriving- even now growing fast-  in this drought that has killed so much of the local corn.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hazel Ripening- Early Warning...

Thanks to Lois Braun for the nudge that we'd neglected to post our observations on hazel ripening this year.  Sorry about that; I'd actually thought we had.

Yes- the hazels are ripening well ahead of "normal" this year, due to the extreme heat, and likely also due to drought.  The drought here at Badgersett has been sufficiently severe that we have immediate neighbors whose corn is looking like a dead loss; maybe salvageable as silage, but no grain; but the hazels, chestnuts, and hickory/pecans are just unaffected (vegetatively) by it.

The hazels ARE getting ripe early, though; and some of them are ripening this year before the nuts turn fully brown.  I've seen that happen both in hazels and chestnuts, in years with varying kinds of stress; "color" is not as important as other factors, apparently; and nuts may be fully ripe and separated from the tree long before they turn the colors you expect.

The critters, however, know perfectly well when they are ready, and don't wait for the color.  Be aware; and beware- the drought and heat may INCREASE the critter pressure on your nut crops.  When other food sources fail, they will come where the food is.

When watching out for animal thieves, also keep in mind- their behaviors will change, from year to year.  Old crows teach young ones- this is now accepted by the fussiest scientists; and they learn how to avoid YOU.  Crows learn when you are likely to be in the field; and will time their visits so you'll never see them.  They carry clusters away; so you won't see nut shells or husks; the clusters will just gradually vanish from the field.  Our crows are in the hazels field at dawn- until we convince them we're there too; waiting for them.  They are also smart enough that they will stay away, if they know you're waiting with the shotgun.  But you have to prove it.

Our biggest pest problem right now is red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus).  When I moved here in the '70s, no one had ever seen one here.  But; maybe it's climate change? - they have invaded, and are now established; and are much faster and more evasive than gray or fox squirrels.  Harder not only for us to catch; but harder for the hawks, too.  They're getting more hazels than I like right now; and they don't wait for full ripeness before starting to steal.

Other pests will also vary from year to year; bluejays, deer mice, and "striped gophers" - will do varying amounts of thieving; changing with the year, the acorn crop, and the size of your planting.

So- NOW is the time to be checking your crops!  Don't take it for granted that just because there was a heavy crop on last week- it will still be there next week.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Field Day, Oil Drum

We've got an article posted today on The Oil Drum, where we address Woody Ag and energy production more completely than has been available in print before. For those of you who made it to Philip Rutter's talk at the International Biomass Conference in Denver earlier this year, this article started with that talk as a framework.  Welcome new visitors, and if you haven't visited that site, go on over and take a look at The Oil Drum.

Also of import, the field day page has been updated with a tentative schedule and tour info.  New this year: a completely harvest-oriented tour, and of course a demonstration of the mechanical harvester. Our hazels have a very serious crop set this year; come and see a little bit of what they can do!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Prairie Plum Farm Hickory-Pecan Plantation 2012

Many folks are aware of the NeoHybrid Chestnuts and Hazels being bred and tested at Badgersett.  Less well-known is the hickory-pecan group (Carya).  A major reason for this is the longer generation time - typically 10 years to first seed crop from a seedling - resulting in fewer generations present on the farm.  (That is, in addition to just not enough personnel or hours in the day...)

Now - I really like wooden items - their lasting beauty and luster pay tribute to the tenacity of trees overcoming the odds to persist to lumber or even veneer size.  When I lived in Illinois, I joined a wood carvers' club and had chosen hickory as the flooring of choice if I had been able to afford the upgrade to my tiny ranch home.

Soon after coming to work for Badgersett I learned that Philip shared my admiration for hickories.  He has a grove of hybrid hickories, both shagbark and bitternut, interbred with pecan.  Compared with the other nut crops, they are easier for the smaller grower to harvest/gather (unless renting a blueberry picker for hazels), and easier to extract from the husk.  In my humble opinion, the flavor is better and the range of culinary uses is as wide or wider than the others.  The wood of the bole is downright gorgeous as lumber, smaller parts yield great btu generation per unit, and the branches are valuable as smokewood. 

I decided, when provided the opportunity, I wanted to plant a bunch for myself.  Well - a year or so ago I purchased a 14.5A former Amish farmlet and am working towards the goal of becoming at least 80% energy and food self-sufficient.  I don't aim for 100% - at least not until I find temperate strains of coffee and chocolate.  The dairy end of things will also, at least for now, need to be bought or bartered for.

Last month I purchased 5 dozen of Badgersett's last year's hybrid hickory tubelings and began my orchard!
Being a geneticist, I set it up as a progeny test plot, with blocks and reps and all that.  Contrary to many recommendations, I did minimal field prep - planting into a recently mowed alfalfa/grass mix.  We hand dug  the holes using a tile spade at 6 foot within and 30 foot between row spacing.  Since then we've had NO rain and temperatures in excess of 100F.  Watering has been done approximately every other day with water pumped to a former ethanol industry carboy and gravity fed through a series of garden hoses.  I started with 5 gallon buckets and jetisoned that approach real fast.  So far I have about 10% looking peaked, but resprouting could still occur. 

Having attended Badgersett field days and short courses, as well as seen the perpetrators and consequences in the fields there - I'm paranoid.  Already I'm seeing burrowing in gthe vacinity and even IN the planting holes.  The next step I'll be taking to counter the Enemy is to erect some wiring fence exclosures aimed at large herbivores (deer and my flock of sheep).  As all other vegetation seems likely to dry up, these succulent tidbits could become beacons in the landscape to any and all hungry plant eatters.  Stay tuned for later developments...

8th International Hazelnut Conference - Temuco, Chile

For those of you who wonder what a Research Associate does... one noteworthy activity I engaged in this early spring was to attend the Eighth International Hazelnut Conference in Temuco, Chile.  In addition to making and renewing contacts in the world of hazelnuts, I presented a poster on the preliminary results of my research on vegetative propagation.  (You can see the full poster at the end of this posting.) Interestingly, once I got there I found they had tagged on the words "europeo Avellano" to the conference publicity.  This was indicative of the focus of the majority of the presentations. With this blog I hope to share some of the interesting bits of information I gleaned from the proceedings.

Why Chile for a hazelnut conference you might be asking.... (this blog will be the first of a number...)

  • Chilean aspirations  Chilean growers are intending to become major growers of European hazel and surpass Oregon, Spain, and Italy in production.  Currently they have about 15,000Ha (37,000A) in cultivation and they are adding about 1,000 Ha annually. Most of these plantations are not yet bearing fruit. They do not have Easten Filbert Blight in Chile and feel they are geographically protected from its introduction.  Consistent with this - they are planting large acreages of EFB-susceptible clones such as 'Barcelona' and 'Tonda di Giffoni'.  Some of the newer Oregon State University introductions are also being planted on a smaller scale - thanks to a Chilean tissue culture industry.  These cultivars have major gene resistance to EFB.
A stumbling block or two are being encountered along the way...
  • Chilean challenge  A beetle of the cucurlio type (Aegorhinus superciliosus), commonly found in Chilean Nothofagus forests, has found the non-native hazelnut bushes to its liking.  The insect larvae feed below the bark on the crown tissue.  As the larvae grows to 2cm in length it does serious, often lethal, damage to the vascular tissues. 
  • Some innovative work is being done to isolate soil fungi that have been found to be effective controls of the insect in laboratory tests.  In order for this to work effectively, however, the beetle needs to be precisely identified (there are some look-alikes) and the complex life history carefully attended to to actually deliver the fungi to the insects in field situations.  Unlike systemically translocated chemical insecticides (e.g., Marathon, etc.), the fungal spores or hyphal suspensions need to actually contact the insects.  Thus, knowing what time of day and under what temperature and light conditions the beetles exit the plant are critical.  Some poor grad student is probably camped out in a hazel orchard right now with a flash light!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

For August 18: Field Day Poem

Actual details coming in the next couple of days, but here's your first reminder that our annual field day is on August 18. In poetic form, by our secretary Sara West:
You're invited to the Annual Badgersett Field Day
A chance to come learn and play
With friends old and new
And bring the family too!
There will be tours of the farm
That will cause little harm
We'll have plants available
Have lunch at a picnic table
So come one and come all
To the kickoff event of the fall
We know it's a bit early
But we need to beat the squirrelly's

Finally, a catalog update!

If you're on our catalog email list, you should already have seen this little note from If you want us to add you to the list, just send an email to that address! And, so you don't have to go looking any further, here is a link to the YouTube full preview of the 2011 Short Course introductory talk.

Hello Folks,

For the first time in six years, we've updated our plant catalog! And in addition, we once again offer other products for order on the web. This includes the 2011 SHORT COURSE DVD-ROM, which I know many of you have been waiting for. This crazy weather may be too hot and dry for some of you to plant, but now is a great time to get your order in for 2013 so you can be close to the front of the shipping queue come next May. If you're in a place where it is less extreme, or you have no problem getting enough water on, we do have quite a few plants available– the availability notices on the catalog pages are now current.

Scroll down for a little more info on the updates, or go straight to a page with the newest catalog links at

As always, check for the latest news and plant availability at

Good Growing,
From the Folks at Badgersett Research

NEW! Badgersett Marketplace
This new order page has products grown and made here Badgersett Farm, and a selection of excellent other products we've found for Woody Ag growers and nut enthusiasts. Badgersett T-Shirts! The best hazel oil from France! Visit the link above to see more, and there'll be even more than that coming soon.

Our NeoHybrid(TM) hazels were the first, and still offer the widest selection, best-tracked, best-vetted and most advanced genetics for hybrid hazels available anywhere.
Now includes MACHINE PICKED (first time available anywhere) and JUST PLAIN HAZELS (so you don't have to worry about all the different types).

Our chestnuts are the most cold-and-dry adapted available. Now includes SELECT PARENT chestnuts so you can be choosier, as well as JUST PLAIN CHESTNUTS so you don't have to choose at all.

HICKORIES: Now available as regular standard tubelings.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Exteme conditions-

A few more points on keeping newly planted tubelings alive in extreme conditions.

Our regular planting instructions strive to be complete; but the reality is, the current record-breaking heat and drought are outside anything you could call "normal".  We do have some additional experience that can help you in this situation.

A.  Water deeply.  If you are only able to supply enough water to get the ground wet down 2-3"; you might be better off not watering at all.  Because: hazels normally grow roots very near, or even "in" the ground surface.  Particularly when newly planted, they have limited resources to work with; if you are only watering shallowly, they will be encouraged to grow mostly shallow roots- following where the water is.  They may not have energy enough to also grow deep roots.  So- when it gets dry again- they will be stressed, again.

Try to deliver enough water so that the ground becomes wet at least 6" deep; 8" is better.  This will encourage deep root growth- and down below 8" there will still likely be water available in the soil; and the roots will continue growing deeper.

B.  DO NOT PULL WEEDS near your newly planted tubelings.  Their roots are intertwined, and you will destroy some of the roots of the tubeling; it may not be able to recover in this extreme situation.  You can cut the weeds off; but don't pull them.

C.  NEVER HOE around new tubelings- the damage to their roots can be drastic.

D.  DO NOT suddenly remove all weed cover, if the tubeling has been buried- it will burn up.  If weed cover has become extensive, we cut off all weeds to the NE of the tubeling, leaving most of the weed shade to the south, west, and overhead.  A little shade won't slow the tubeling down at all; and a little protection from drying winds and sun may actually help.

E.  DO NOT let the tubelings remain totally buried in weeds - not only will total shade slow them; but the deep cover greatly encourages insects, which are safe from birds there.  In particular, young hazels may be skeletonized by grasshopper nymphs - if buried in grass.  Opening up just the NE side will drastically decrease grasshopper attacks.

F.  If you feel you cannot keep up with watering in these drastic conditions; consider a) covering the tubelings with a hay/straw "hat", just during the extremes, quickly removed when the weather breaks; or even b) abandoning some of the planting, and concentrating on saving a portion of it- whatever you can actually deliver enough water to.

Even in the worst conditions- there are tactics that should prevent total loss.

G.  CALL US - if you need advice.  We'll try to help; and there are a few more tricks in our bag.


Monday, July 2, 2012


We're spending a great deal of time right now watering - but only hazels (or other) that were planted THIS year.  Anything planted last year, for us, is not stressed - yet.  Though it might be.  Anything planted 2 years ago; we consider safe and not in need of supplemental water except perhaps in extreme circumstances (or on sandy soils, maybe).

But; yes; this kind of extreme heat and dry weather can kill tubelings planted this year; they're still tiny. Get them watered if you have ANY doubts about it.


Our friend Hank Roberts made this comment on the last post:

"I know you're too busy to be blogging these days, just thinking about y'all while watching the weather. I know a tiny bit about heat stress on corn and soy (both the limits during critical periods and the overall degree days, I think?), but nothing at all about what factors combine to affect success with your woody crops."

Yah, busy, but it takes a while for the pickup water tank to fill; 450 gallons-

We're expecting this to be a year when the hazel crop really shines- so far, the hazel crop is in no danger at all; not even stressed; while the prices of corn and soybeans go up every day it doesn't rain-

Take a look here to get an excellent idea of how heat and drought affect the corn crop: and note that's from August of last year.  The corn this year; having been planted earlier, may actually be more at risk.

Very quickly; the hazels share almost none of those risks.  The crop pollinated and the nuts were set in March and April.  Currently they are sizing, and filling.  Yes, it's known that some hazels may suffer decreased size, or even abort the embryo, if exposed to high heat at the wrong time.  But- our hybrids include genetics that appear to be immune to those problems.  So far.  Hazels are C3 plants, not C4 like corn- which we can and do argue is a great advantage (twice the Growing Degree Days in the same locations); but precise effects of heat are not well studied.

What is known about heat stress in hazels is only on a cultivar by cultivar basis- and our populations of diverse hybrids confound the desire to make broad sweeping statements.

One thing for growers to do- keep an eye on your hazels!  Those that come through this summer with good solid crops- are going to be important for future of food, as the climate warms.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Nothing we can do about weather; in this case it doesn't appear to be "maybe it'll rain" but - "maybe it'll be tornadoes and floods".  So - the bonfire is postponed from tonight ( Wed June 20) to- tomorrow night; Thursday June 21.

Looks like what Cannon Falls got last week, and Duluth got last night - is coming our way today.

Hope you get the note; and hope you can come tomorrow.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Bonfire & Huge Hazel Crop-

Folks, if you are reading this blog; YOU ARE invited to come to Badgersett- in two days- for our Annual Summer Solstice Bonfire.

In case you aren't aware; we've been doing a big bonfire on the summer solstice for about 16 years now.  There's nothing "new agey" about it- it's simply a chance to notice that: half the year is gone.  Oh; and a chance to relax for a little with friends.  Eat a brat or two.  Watch kids run around and holler and chase fireflies.  And talk.

This year, for those interested in the crops we work on here- this is a great chance to take a look at what is shaping up to be the heaviest hazel crop in over 10 years.  A huge number of bushes have "maximum" crops coming-

These nuts are far from full size at this point; and many hazel bushes with beaked hazel in their hybrid background are have nuts that are still barely visible.  But; overall; the crop is looking enormous.

Which is good.  But it's going to be exhausting; and for us, it means we need to take more data, in preparation for- next year.  Because it's the bushes that have a big crop this year; AND next, that are the ones we need to be breeding with.

So - if you can; COME for the bonfire, June 20; people start arriving around 7:30- 8; kids and grandparents please come too; bring a couple chairs to sit in, maybe a potlucky dish, though we provide basic brat-dog materials and marshmallows.  We light the fire at 10 PM; full dark.  It's spectacular if you haven't seen it.  These things used to be widespread community traditions, but for many reasons have faded into the past.  Shouldn't

Come see!  And relax.  (It may be your last chance to relax until January, so get some in now.)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Shipping and Planting and So On!

Yes, we are still taking plant orders for 2012. Hopefully I will get the actual website updated with that information soon.

We are indeed shipping, and have made it through a fair amount of the queue– we are up to date on many of our hazel types, but still behind the requested ship dates for chestnuts and hickories. Working on remedying that as I type, getting more planted in the greenhouse.

We also planted about 1500 research-grade bare-root dormant material in the field here on Badgersett Farm last weekend. I'll try to get pictures posted soon.  They're doing well, and we'll need to water them again soon, since it's been dry, sunny and windy.
So On includes that we're selling plants, nuts and t-shirts at the Mabel Farmer's Market on Saturdays now.

Friday, February 24, 2012

2012 Short Course: March 31-April 1

This year is a little earlier than usual, to avoid conflicts with Easter and other scheduled events. Prices are currently held at the same extremely low price of $309; $279 early-bird registration before March 15. The overall organization will be similar to the last several years (see the 2010 page here; you can use that order form), but we are considering holding a few concurrent sessions in order to present more advanced and specialized material.
I'll post the one-page flyer for this year later today, and we will continue updating details over the next few days. Expect more coverage this year on propagation details, establishment in drought/difficult conditions, and of course machine harvest.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

THIS SATURDAY: Sustainable Farming Association of MN

This Saturday, February 18, our CEO and Chief Scientist Philip Rutter will be giving a talk at the 2012 annual conference of the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota. Badgersett will have an exhibit table as well.

Philip's talk is currently slated for 2:30, and titled:
"What's All This About Hazelnuts?"

The short description of the talk is as follows:
"In the past few years buzz and investment in hazelnuts for the Upper Midwest have increased dramatically. All of the interest originated from the investigations started at Badgersett Farm 30+ years ago; and all the crop genetics currently producing, also. Do hybrid bush hazelnuts have a future in sustainable farming practices in Minnesota? The talk will cover whole-system theory, practices, the current state of the art, last year's first machine harvest, and several different paths forward. Is this the first real perennial agricultural crop? Badgersett is now expanding plantings, and experimenting with integrating animals with commercial scale nut production."

If you're already planning to attend, please stop by! Otherwise, if you're within range of St. Joseph, this year's conference schedule looks like a good one.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Badgersett Research Farm 2012 Internship Posting

Through most of the '90s, Badgersett had interns most summers. Our experience with them varied, but we had many good experiences. We stopped offering internships following a couple of less-good years, and our realization that at the time we were not able to provide the interns with enough support in their learning.
This year, we are happy to announce that we are once again ready to support interns. We'll prefer upperclassmen and graduates, but really the most important traits are openness to learning, enthusiasm, and ability to work.
Please feel free to cross-post this opportunity and send it along to people you think might be particularly well suited to an experience here.


Woody Perennial Agriculture Internship (room & board)

Badgersett Research Corporation, the originator and developer of Woody Agriculture, is looking for 2-3 sensible, motivated, inquisitive individuals for a 13 week on-farm experience. Interns will gain the most advanced hands-on experience available anywhere, in the nuts and bolts of ecologically integrated management, planning and establishment of Woody Ag (nut) fields. Field experimentation, hybrid swarm breeding, animal integration, greenhouse production and green off-grid building will all be introduced, and particularly-directed individuals may be able to choose an experience focused in one of these areas.
In exchange for room and board, two individuals will also be involved (15 hours/week) in day-to-day operation of a sustainable small farm, greenhouse and organic orchard. Housing includes a room shared with the other intern, and other living space shared with Badgersett’s research associate in a renovated, former-Amish home.


Minimum requirements are having completed college-level biology and ability and willingness to work outside in most weather doing physical work and getting dirty (lots of walking, repeated light to medium lifting). Also required is an appropriate attention to detail (working with research projects) and willingness to accept instruction. Preference will be given to individuals with some farming, gardening, power equipment, or animal raising experience. Experience in and evidence of a commitment to personal involvement in sustainable agriculture and living is also preferred.


Time Commitment

Hours can vary with the tasks at hand, but expect 8-9 hour days 5-6 days a week. Some days will be longer. Duties will include greenhouse tending, field planting and maintenance in addition to the research projects in which you will participate.

Application Process

Send a résumé and contact information for 3 references to, along with a one-page cover letter addressing at least a) What has motivated you to apply for this position? and b) What skills and interests do you have which you see fitting in particularly well here? Please send application materials as PDF attachments. Selection will begin on March 1 and continue until all positions are filled.
Fore those with a very serious interest in and dedication to sustainable agriculture, we are also taking applications for long-term apprenticeship; a two-year experience for an unparalleled learning opportunity in perennial crop agriculture and off-grid living.


Badgersett Research Corporation (BRC, is a pre-IPO, dynamic company which has been working for 30 years to transform agriculture into a nondestructive enterprise. BRC is the originator and developer of Woody Agriculture systems, whose primary products are advanced hybrid nut-producing plants, and the technical know-how for growing, harvesting and marketing these crops. Our products have growing demand in both domestic and international markets.

Some quick links to give you a more complete idea of who we are, and what we do:

Monday, February 6, 2012

What's keeping us busy.

As you know, we're experimenting with incorporating livestock of several kinds into the nut crop practices. The goal being to find pathways that make economic sense, and to sort out at what scale which practices might make sense.

Livestock require attention; 365 days a year; unless you are just buying feeder stock, selling them on, and not over wintering anything. In our case, we're still learning what makes sense, and therefore we do winter chickens, guineas, the sheep, and of course the horses.

About a month ago we suddenly hit an urgent need to increase the protection of our sheep from the local coyotes. In fact the first livestock we acquired were dogs- specifically trained and intended to be livestock guard animals. We have two, who are well trained (now), roam free on the farm 24 hours a day, and who have been doing a fine job of keeping predators at a distance, from both sheep and poultry.

There have been coyotes here from the outset; and while the dogs have been successful so far- coyotes are very intelligent; and very adaptable.

Last month the local coyotes jumped up their pressure. Three times, we caught them in the process of intentionally teasing and distracting the guard dogs- and pulling them away from the sheep. Fortunately for us, we were kind of expecting this to happen some day, and we were able to break up the tactic. Once the dogs were aware, they effectively chased the pack off.

In the long run, however, this is a war the coyotes are sure to win, eventually. Additional safety measures were called for. Out of the various options possible (enclosing the sheep, acquiring a Great Pyrenees type guard dog, llamas...) we opted for this:

Meet Anastasia; our new guard mule. She's a "pony-mule", barely larger than a small donkey; those are some of the Icelandic sheep in the background. She's 3 years old, and only halter broke, but shows a basic friendliness and willingness to put up with nonsense that gives us hope we can also train her to do light draft chores around the farm; perhaps helping haul nuts out of the fields during harvest, for example.

Finding, transporting, and acclimating her to her new world, however- took most of a week for 2 people. Time that was not in our original time budgets; but which the coyote/sheep/research equation suddenly required.

Incidentally- we're currently very optimistic about using the sheep in the hazels- as a "pre-coppice" treatment. They unquestionably remove a great deal of small hazel shoot material, which has low biomass value, but great nuisance potential.

This is the current sheep paddock, which includes about 150' of rows G and H; both in serious need of coppice renovation. As you can see here, weeds have been removed and the way cleared for easy access to the hazel crowns. Less obvious in the picture, since we don't have the "before" image easily available, is that the crowns have been dramatically thinned, and unexpectedly, wood damaged by Eastern Filbert Blight has mostly been broken out and removed. Those stems have decreased fuel value in any event, and are also troublesome during coppice, as they break erratically and escape standard bundling. Now- they're gone.

We'll be tracking the effects of the sheep on soil fertility and pH. Keep in mind that though keeping sheep (and mules) is usually thought of as a practice for the small farmer, we're investigating their potential for larger commercial scale use also. Income is income- and it's possible that even at large scales, integrating animals may make straight economic sense.

There is plenty more to learn here; but at the moment, it's encouraging. It's even quite possible that the extra time required by managing the sheep will be quickly repaid by decreased time and energy required to perform the coppice.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Yes, we have plants for 2012

We ARE currently taking orders for 2012 shipment of plants; as a rule we will take orders up to one year in advance of first desired ship date.
We expect more bare-root dormant tubeling hazel and chestnut material than usual this year, and possibly some hickory-pecan as well.
We also have excellent availability for nearly all classes of standard tubelings, except for some select and XL hazels which may be sold out, depending on how the early growing season goes here.
We will be updating our pricing within the next month, BUT YOU CAN LOCK IN TODAY'S PRICES BY PLACING YOUR ORDER NOW!
Along with the pricing update will come some new plant types, including the first-available-anywhere MACHINE PICKED seed. Highly experimental, of course.
Since our plant catalog threatens to become even more complex, we may also add a "just send me some hazel plants" option.
Hopefully I will be able to put some very basic updates on the main website as well.

Soon to come: an official announcement for this year's Short Course, to be held March 30-April 1 with farm tour on April 2.