How to Grow Hazelnuts

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Time to germination: Usually purchased as saplings
Time to harvest: 4 years
Light requirements: Full sun
Soil: Well-drained soil


Hazelnuts come from the hazel tree, but are also called filberts and sometimes cob nuts. The nuts can be eaten on their own, usually roasted but hazlenut is also commonly ground into a paste and used to flavor candies and chocolate. Hazelnut oils are also used in syrups. One particularly well-known hazelnut product is Nutella spread.

Hazelnuts can be grown from zones 9 up into zone 4 (even sheltered areas of zone 3). The cooler regions should stick to the American hazelnut variety as the European type is less cold-tolerant. As a crop they are grown extensively in Turkey, and there is a Turkish variety for that climate.

As with most nuts, they are high in protein as well as fat. There are also high levels of B vitamins and fiber in a hazelnut.

Starting Your Tree

Most people who start hazelnut do so with purchased saplings rather than by planting nuts. Many trees available will be grafted trees, meaning the rootstock is from one kind of tree and the top branch portion is of another. Typically, the Turkish hazelnut is used for rootstock to help with blight resistance. Grafted trees are perfectly normal, and will produce nuts as per their tops not the roots.

If you are going to grow hazelnuts, you will have to have the space for at least 2 trees. They are self-infertile and will not produce any nuts unless they are pollinated by another tree.

Your tree location should have space for mature trees around 10 feet tall, and between 12 and 15 feet across at the crown. Keep your trees spaced about 20 feet between them to allow enough room, but no farther than 40 feet or they won’t pollinate each other.

Dig a hole large enough to hold the root ball, and then dig down a little deeper so there is loose soil in th bottom of the hole. Plant the sapling, and keep it moist for the first few months. Then it should be fine unless you get a stretch of particularly hot or dry weather.

Tree Care

Hazelnuts tend to grow very bushy, and will sprout lots of suckers from the base of the trunk. To maximize your nut production, it’s best to cut away the extra suckers or sprouts as they form at the base and try to keep your tree trained to a central trunk shape.

Your trees are a more drought-tolerant than other nut trees, so you shouldn’t have to worry about regular watering unless the level of rainfall has really dropped. Water hazelnuts at least once a week during drought, but that should be all that’s required.

Once your tree has started to produce nuts, you can give it an annual fertilizer feeding though it’s not essential. A standard formula is fine, though a fertilizer designed for trees would be better.

Pests and Disease

One of the biggest threats to hazelnuts in North America is the eastern filbert blight. It will kill off your trees unless you spray regularly. Thankfully, there are several varieties of tree that have been bred with resistance. Geneva, Slate and Grimo are all good trees to grow if you feel blight may be a problem. Though the disease is common in the east, western regions are starting to see signs of it as well.

In the insect world, you will need to be on the look-out for leafroller moths. Actually, it’s their larvae (caterpillars) you need to be aware of. These plain brown moths lay their eggs, and the caterpillars then spin webs in the leaves, causing them to roll up into a tube. If you see any such activity, cut the branches off immediately. You can spray pesticides, but the rolled leaves usually protect the worms. A few won’t harm your trees, but in large quantities, they can eat enough leaves to kill a tree.

Harvest and Storage

The best time to harvest your hazelnuts is after their husks have dried, split open and dropped the nuts out of the tree. This usually happens in the late fall, and you will have to check the ground almost daily in order to gather the nuts before the local squirrels and birds make off with them.

Small-scale nut growers usually just rake up the nuts, or lay out a tarp to help gather them up. If you have a lot of trees, you can buy various gadgets and tractor attachments that can help harvest the nuts off the ground without too much bending over.

Before you plan on storing your hazelnuts, you need to dry them. You can either shell them first or dry them in the shell, but leaving the shell on will mean a much longer drying time. You’ll need to spread the fresh nuts out somewhere well-ventilated and very warm. It can take several days. The nutmeats should be dry right through, and all the white color should have darkened. Nuts in the shell will need to be cracked open to properly check.

Once dry, you can store your hazelnuts. They store better unroasted. You can keep dry hazelnuts for up to 2 years in the freezer, or a full year even just in the fridge. You’ll want to keep them dry, so store in a plastic bag or jar. You can freeze them while in the shell, but they will take up so much space that way that it’s not really practical.

If you don’t want to store all your nuts in the freezer, they can be kept in any dry cool location. They need to be in a tight container to keep out moths that will infest your nuts. Check often for mold, and use them up within a few months.

Your trees will start to produce nuts at around 4 years old, but it can take up to 10 years before they start to give a full crop. They should keep producing for up to 30 years.

23 Responses to “How to Grow Hazelnuts”

  1. shirley eers  Says:

    Could you please tell me if you spray your Filbert and or Walnut trees? If you do – When? Why? and with what?
    also do you fertilize Filbert and Walnut Trees? When? Why? and With What?
    Thank you for your time and assistance.

  2. clare  Says:

    hi, i ordered a hazel nut bush from a catalogue and they didnt say anything abuot buying two so i am a little worried about that. i have had it for three years now and there isnt anything on it, leaves of course but no flowers no anything. i kno wthat it takes 4 years for the nuts bu will i be able to get any if i dont have another bush and should i be seeing any sighns of flowers or buds appearing yet?

  3. sharon darr  Says:

    This is a question I have alot of hazel nut tree but the nut are very small . Gow can I get thrn to grow bigger? Please get back with me thanks you

  4. Bill Jackson  Says:

    I think I’ve found a way to dry my hazelnuts in the moist Pacific Northwest. I cut a hole in the bottom of a box, to fit over the outlet of a portable dehumidifier. Then I fitted another box, with a perforated bottom, inside the first one. It’s set up so the air can’t flow around the second box, it has to go through the perforations. And I covered the whole thing loosely with a towel.
    It’s been running several hours now. The nuts are noticeably dryer already, and the towel cover is “poofed out” by the airflow and very, very dry to the touch.

  5. Dale  Says:

    We are considering planting several acres of Hazelnuts. But low well water output may be a problem. In the dry summer of the Willamette Valley, approximately how much water in gallons per tree per watering?

  6. David Arrington  Says:

    Clare: You definitely need two or more hazelnuts since hazelnuts are not self-pollinating.

    Sharon: You did not say what kind of hazelnut you had. Some varities naturally have larger nuts than others. If I were you, I would fertilize the bushes more. I have read that a hazelnut likes one pound of fertilizer per year of growth up to five pounds per year, although I don’t use that much myself. I put a small amount of fertilizer around each bush several times each year and definitely all at once.

  7. Lily  Says:

    Have had a hazelnut tree for 4 years and was originally not told about needing two. What other nut tree can be used for a graft? Have not been unable to find a hazelnut in my area.

  8. sue racine  Says:

    what are the pinecone looking things tahat appear efter the nuts are taken ?

  9. Vicki Fruetel  Says:

    Can seedlings of hazelnuts be grown indoors in pots for the first year? I just received seedlings, but it is winter in our zone.

  10. Shauna  Says:

    Is there any soil condition recommended?

    We can get 30 below in winter how are they with cold and heat.

    I have two seedlings about 7 inches high so should I plant them outside now or plant in a planter in the house for a year.

  11. jill  Says:

    I found a sapling /volunteer in my yard. It must be a filbert because it still has the nut/shell attached to the roots. do you have any photos of what sapling leaves look like? It doesn’t look like any hazelnut bushes I’ve seen photos of.
    thank you

  12. cynthia olen  Says:

    I have 2 twenty-year-old hazel nut trees that were present on the property when I acquired it. Neither has flowered at all in all the years I’ve been there. I don’t know which varieties they are. I live on the California North Coast, about a mile inland. Why will they not flower? I can’t get nuts without flowers!

  13. cynthia olen  Says:

    please respond to above

  14. Maureen  Says:

    We,re having trouble with squirrels picking all nuts while green. Is ther any way to harvest green and ripen off tree? Thanks, Maureen

  15. Robbi  Says:

    I can’t seem to get my hazelnuts before the squirrels do. Can anyone help? Can you pick when they are still in the green pod and somehow dry them inside? I have two trees that are loaded, and haven’t had one nut in the last two years.

  16. Administrator  Says:

    You need a .22 or a shotgun of some sort. Sorry, squirrels are crafty, not as picky as you, and can pick you clean. Also perhaps try owl decoys or snake decoys (or encourage the local owl population by putting in an owl house).

  17. Tom Durbin  Says:

    I recently purchased two hazelnut trees. Deer are a problem here on my property in Northeastern PA. Will they eat the hazelnut leaves or new buds?



  18. BL  Says:

    I have t bush,s that are 15 years old I dug them up when they were 5 when I moved they are 10 to 15 feet
    they have been real slow to produce?? not sure why?
    I found 4 nuts today hmm any info apprectaed

  19. vincent  Says:

    please assist me in getting the hazelnut trees, I want to plant for commercial purposes

  20. Daphne France  Says:

    Got lucky and found hazelnuts before squirrels. I want to plant them and start my own seedlings. Do I just plant the seeds with the husk on or do I soak first etc. Please advise.

  21. Deborah J. Nye  Says:

    For anyone having trouble with squrriles thieving the nuts off your tree’s, consider having a couple of active cats or dogs around your property. The pets seem to have knack at chasing away or even killing the squirrels.Giving the tree owners a chance for harvest.

  22. Dave Klimek  Says:

    Will hazel nuts grow in Buffalo County in Nebraska? Sandy loam soil well drained and sunny.

  23. Patricia Dan  Says:

    My soil is the former flood plain of the Rio Grande river – mostly sandy loam with areas of clay. I can plant in the looser areas but am wondering about soil ph. In NM it is slightly alkaline and not a problem except for plants that need acid soil. Can hazelnuts thrive in soil that is on the alkaline side of neutral?

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