Hazelnut Trees Are Easy!

Native hybrid hazelnuts provide a crop that is consistently in short supply, well known by consumers, and nearly grow themselves. 
by Dawn and Jeff Zarnowski
Tasty and healthy hazelnuts are used in many food products desired by consumers and are chronically in short supply.  Almost all hazelnuts consumed in North America are sourced from either Oregon or Turkey.  Yet, hazelnut trees are native to the eastern half North America from Louisiana to Georgia in the south, to Manitoba and Quebec in the north.  The native hazelnut trees (Corylus americana) are hardy, disease resistant and are very tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions, and yet there is a shortage of nuts.   The native nuts tend to be small and are not as tasty as the European hazelnuts (Corylus avellana) that that have been selected for quality for hundreds and thousands of years.   This is where hybridization of the two hazelnut species for the past century has yielded new varieties that have the best qualities of both.  Hazelnut organizations have formed to promote growing this native crop with improved qualities.
Another wonderful thing about hazelnut trees is you don’t have to wait long before the tree will bear nuts for you to eat.   Hazel trees start bearing in as little as 4 years and heavy yields in year six or seven.   Also, you can choose to grow it as a bush or a single stem tree.  A multi-stem bush will form if you don’t mow or cut down the shoots that grow near the base of the tree.   In bush form it will grow 8 feet to 12 feet tall.  In bush form, the hazelnut allows for easy hand picking of the nuts, and carefree environmental plantings for erosion control or as a hedge.  If you choose to grow it as a single stem tree it will grow 14 feet to 16 feet tall and nearly as wide.  Once the tree is big enough to shade the base, the shoots won’t grow.  The native hazelnut tree is adaptable and easy to grow; but, it took many generations of hybridizing to generate native trees with large tasty nuts.

 Hybrid hazel trees with jumbo grade sized nuts are successfully grown without pesticides or fungicides in USDA zones 4b/5a, in the Finger Lakes region of New York.

Hybrid hazel trees with jumbo grade sized nuts are successfully grown without pesticides or fungicides in USDA zones 4b/5a, in the Finger Lakes region of New York.

The reason the European hazelnuts (a.k.a. filberts) were grown on the west coast was to keep the tasty European trees far away from the native trees that harbor a blight known as Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB) caused by the fungus Anisogramma anomala.  Also, the tender European varieties tend to be less cold tolerant and are better suited for USDA zones 7/8.
Hazel orchards in the Northwest are now slowly being decimated by EFB as the disease has spread throughout the region.  Hybridization of native blight resistant hazel trees to the European hazel in North America has been documented since 1921 by Carl Weschcke.  The Northern Nut Growers Association (NNGA) has been in existence for over 100 years.  NNGA is a group of hobbyist and professionals that grow and breed nut trees.  NNGA and similar associations such as Society of Ontario Nut Growers (SONG) have assisted with hazelnut improvement for over 94 years.  In the past few years, more organizations have formed to promote hazelnut trees as a food crop throughout North America.
Hazelnut production is expanding with the Ontario Hazelnut Association that formed just a few years ago to promote hazel orchards just north and west of the New York border.  Ferrero, the makers of Nutella, is a $8.8 billion dollar company, that consumes 25% of the world’s crop, has a massive factory, just over the New York border, in Brantford Ontario Canada.  There is Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative (UMHDI) to develop hazelnut cultivars and orchards in Wisconsin, Michigan and surrounding area.  The Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium was formed to research and promote hybrid hazelnuts utilizing Rutgers University, Oregon State University, University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the Arbor Day foundation.  Support to grow hazelnut trees has expanded greatly in the last few years as new hybrid trees come to market.
From a financial standpoint, hazelnuts are an ideal specialty crop, as they are in continuous short supply and have high profit margins.  Retail pricing for in-shell hazelnuts averages $6.00 a pound and shelled raw bulk hazelnuts are currently selling for $14.99 a pound in local grocery stores.  The cost per pound of hazelnuts currently limits consumption.  The future for increased hazelnut consumption is excellent, as Europeans consume up to eight times what an American consumes.
 How controlled pollination is done at a breeding orchard in Cortland, NY. New hybrids of trees are generated by controlled pollination. Pollen is first blocked from receptive flowers by Tyvek bags. Once the pollen shed is done the flowers are then hand pollinated from another quality tree.

How controlled pollination is done at a breeding orchard in Cortland, NY. New hybrids of trees are generated by controlled pollination. Pollen is first blocked from receptive flowers by Tyvek bags. Once the pollen shed is done the flowers are then hand pollinated from another quality tree.

Hazelnuts provide a very profitable income well above what any annual grain crop can, after the necessary 6-year wait before the trees produce a significant amount of nuts.  Assuming only 2000 pounds of nuts (up to 2800 lbs. should be attainable) at direct wholesale pricing of only $2.50 per pound (we currently sell for $3.50 per pound) amounts to $5000.00 per acre.   In contrast, the average corn crop yields 160 bushels per acre in New York and at a current price of under $4.00 per bushel equals only $640 per acre.  Hazels require similar annual input costs as corn, and organic sustainability should be readily achievable as the hazel tree is native unlike most annual crops grown.
Hazel flowers are wind-pollinated, so no bees or butterflies are needed for pollination. Hazels have separate male flowers, called catkins, that form in late summer and shed pollen early in the spring before leaves emerge.  Female flowers emerge from a bud and require pollen from a second tree, because its own pollen is self-incompatible.  Therefore, two pollen compatible strains of hybrid trees are planted in an orchard.
The majority of the cost to establish an orchard is in the first two years.  First the field must be cleared of rocks, with pH adjusted to range from 6.5 to 7.0pH.    Deer fencing for the orchard and individual tree protection is suggested.  The animals find that the nut trees are tasty and the leaves, buds, and bark are readily consumed by deer, moles, voles, and mice.  Protection is needed for the first three years until the tree is large enough to not be bothered by any animal. Young hazel trees need irrigation to ensure good survivability and growth, until the roots grow deep enough to not need irrigation thereafter.
Ideally, a commercial orchard will use clones of hazel trees with known characteristics.  Clones of hazels are traditionally done with layering.  Layering is accomplished by encouraging the shoots that are pushed up from the roots of the mother tree to grow its own roots.  The shoot (a.k.a. sucker) is cut away from the mother tree and replanted on proper spacing.  Sources of cloned trees are rapidly expanding using new hybrids that have proven themselves over many years of careful watching and measuring.  There are numerous sources of seedling trees and a conscientious tree nursery will only use seed from the best trees.  Hazelnut trees can be planting any time of year.  Please verify that the trees are hybridized for many generations to help ensure your buying quality trees.  Trees are available all year long and can be sourced from the following list and several other nurseries:

Hazelnuts offer a great opportunity for and any agricultural system from a backyard to a large farm.  Different agricultural systems incorporating hazelnuts include: silvopasture, permaculture, agroforestry and woody agriculture.  These systems utilize trees as an integral part of a sustainable agricultural practice. We believe this trend will continue to grow and lead both environmentally and economically over annual grain crops.
Dawn and Jeff have been growing and breeding hazelnut trees for over 23 years at Z’s Nutty Ridge LLC and can be reached at Find us at: Dawnz@znutty.com 
Like us at: https://www.facebook.com/zsnutty.ridge
Office Phone: 607 756 4409

Avatar of Claire Cekander

Claire Cekander


  1. Avatar of craig craig on October 18, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    can hazelnuts be grown in South Florida, Ft Myers area?

    • Avatar of Thomas Thomas on October 31, 2021 at 2:20 pm

      I would like to plant hazel trees in my yard; I have an acre and it’s probably too acidic though. My yard is in the 7b planting zone. Where/how should I start?

  2. Avatar of colin dunphy colin dunphy on January 2, 2017 at 11:07 am

    How well do they produce in part shade as part of multi-tiered planting- like with apple trees? Do they produce well as trees and would they be less susceptible to browsing as a tree?

    • Avatar of Chris Chris on August 7, 2020 at 10:59 am

      We have native trees and it did take a few years for more than a few nuts to show up. Last year was great as far as we were concerned compared to previously. My friend does grow hers, that set of trees I am taking about, in a good amount of shade. It has suckered and we made more trees out of it. Well bushes really but they are taller. We cut away suckeres that can easily be transplanted. We have a heavy dear population and havnt really had much trouble with them but I am sure they nibble. My geese actually stripped the leaves off of my smaller bush a couple times and it has come back better each time but may be setting it back timewise. I am transpalnting to more of a natural landscape and will look for some newer hybrids for my favorite nut.

  3. Avatar of steph steph on January 7, 2017 at 3:34 am

    what was the name of the non native that could fruit here?

  4. Avatar of Jed Jed on February 11, 2018 at 8:19 pm

    I am interested in raising hazelnuts and hazel nut trees,is this doable in southeastern manitoba? And who eventually buys the nuts? Who can I talk to that would mentor me thru this process?

    • Avatar of Talia Isaacson Talia Isaacson on February 23, 2018 at 10:35 am

      Hi Jed, thanks for reaching out! We unfortunately do not have a hazelnut specialist among our staff, but please feel free to contact the author of this article at dawnz@znutty.com with your questions. It also might be worth taking a look at the websites of the Northern Nut Growers Association https://nutgrowing.org/ and the Society of Ontario Nut Growers http://www.songonline.ca/nut_growing.htm. Hope this helps, and good luck!

  5. Avatar of Gena' Gena' on March 15, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    How well would hazelnut bushes produce in southeastern colorado zone 6a?

    • Avatar of Carli Fraccarolli Carli Fraccarolli on March 21, 2018 at 11:04 am

      Hi Gena,
      It seems that hazelnut trees will produce in zones 4-9, and are hardy to zone 6 regions. If you have further questions, I recommend contacting the authors of this article, Dawn and Jeff, at Dawnz@znutty.com.

  6. Avatar of Matthew Matthew on March 20, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    Do you know of any hazelnut farms in the southern Appalachian (TN, KY, NC, VA) region? A quick internet search didn’t turn up anything for me. I’m just trying to establish if there is actually NO competition for this market in my area, where hazelnuts seem to grow great everywhere, including part shade and clay soil.

    • Avatar of Carli Fraccarolli Carli Fraccarolli on March 21, 2018 at 12:10 pm

      Hi Matthew,
      Unfortunately we in the Cornell Small Farms office do not know of any hazelnut farms in the southern Appalachian, but perhaps the authors of this article, Dawn and Jeff, may know more. They can be reached at Dawnz@znutty.com.

      • Avatar of THOMAS A DAILEY THOMAS A DAILEY on February 6, 2020 at 10:36 pm

        About 65 yrs ago when I was a lad in West Virginia I would go out to locations near my home after the first frost and pick hazelnuts in the wild and also persimmon and pawpaw

    • Avatar of Robert Hite Robert Hite on February 7, 2024 at 10:58 pm

      I live in Indiana and I have approximately 100 hazelnut trees of many different cultivars.Most of them are still very young but I have some of them are 5 year old layered clones that are producing nuts.

  7. Avatar of Christof den Biggelaar Christof den Biggelaar on October 3, 2018 at 9:29 am

    Yes, hazelnuts do grow in the S Appalachians. I have found several wild ones growing along the road where I live (west of Boone NC), and have planted 17 hazels from the Arbor Hazelnut Initiative. Some of the bushes haven’t produced much if any nuts (a couple are still too young), but I have harvested yearly from at least half of them. This year, I discovered 5 seedlings in other parts of my garden – probably buts buried by squirrels and forgotten. I have grown out seedlings from some of my good producing trees as well.

    • Kelsie Raucher on October 4, 2018 at 10:44 am

      Thank you for your comment, Cristof. Good luck with future hazelnut harvests.

  8. Avatar of Laura Tower-Hunt Laura Tower-Hunt on November 4, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    Hi, I have a beautiful filbert that I can’t remember the type, that I planted years ago and it won’t nut. I have some DuChillys around it with no luck. I think it’s either a Barcelona or a Halle’s Giant. Is there a way to identify it w/o the nut? It produces massive amounts of pollen in January/Feb. and has not pollinated the DuChillys either. Thank you

    • Kelsie Raucher on November 7, 2018 at 2:21 pm

      Hi Laura,
      I’d recommend reaching out to the authors of the article with your identification question: Dawnz@znutty.com or their office phone: 607 756 4409.
      Good luck in identifying the tree!

  9. Avatar of Bill Corcoran Bill Corcoran on December 1, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    Can I grow hazelnut commercial in Ireland. There are hazelnut trees in the hedges but they don’t always nut. Also sometimes there is a nut but inside there is no fruit. Why do you think this is.

  10. Avatar of Hugh Severson Hugh Severson on December 9, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    How many hazelnut seedlings do you plant per acre? Can I plant in the spring? Hugh Severson

  11. Avatar of Maja Maja on December 15, 2018 at 10:52 am

    Can American hazelnut grow in part-to-full shade, such as in a natural forest? Would this affect/reduce the crop or productivity in any way?

    • Kelsie Raucher on March 26, 2020 at 2:52 pm

      Hi Maja,

      I’d recommend reaching out directly to the authors of this article. Dawn and Jeff can be reached at Dawnz@znutty.com , https://www.facebook.com/zsnutty.ridge, and/or 607.756.4409.

    • Avatar of Chris Chris on August 7, 2020 at 11:08 am

      They will grow in those areas and yes I would deffinately say it effects the nut crop. Last year was our best but still not huge. A few trees in what I would call mostly shade. I lost my second tree which I will replace bit grown in full sun is much smaller than the shady ones. No nuts that I have seen and then lost the other tree as stated. I am transplanting it to more natural ground and add one at least of these new hybrids i hope.

  12. Avatar of Jquan Jquan on January 17, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    Hi Dawn and Jeff Zarnowski,
    What strain of hazelnut would you recommended growing in Southern California, specifically Orange and Riverside County? In your article you mention “Hazel orchards in the Northwest are now slowly being decimated by EFB as the disease has spread throughout the region”, and I would like to plan against such a crisis.
    Thank you so much!

    • Anna Birn on February 6, 2019 at 3:11 pm

      Hi Jquan,
      I would direct your question about hazlenut cultivars to Dawn and Jeff.
      They can be reached at Dawnz@znutty.com or by their office phone at 607 756 4409.
      Good luck!

  13. Avatar of Vic Vic on January 22, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    can we grow hazelnut trees in SE Arizona in Cochise County?

    • Kelsie Raucher on March 26, 2020 at 2:36 pm

      Hi Vic,

      I’d recommend reaching out to your local county extension office to learn whether hazelnut trees will grow well where you live: https://extension.arizona.edu/cochise.

      Good luck!

  14. Avatar of Bobi Bobi on January 30, 2019 at 5:14 am

    Hi, guys ! Typing from Bulgaria, Europe and have questions. Why in the summer the leaf of the bushes look like the were burn or something like that. Im wondering because they are 4 years old but still don’t grow fast. They are around 1.5 meter, and this is with irrigation system… . Thank you all and the location is Bourgas.

    • Kelsie Raucher on April 2, 2020 at 12:39 pm

      Hi Bobi,
      I’d recommend reaching out to the authors of the article with your inquiry. Dawn and Jeff can be contacted at: Dawnz@znutty.com, on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/zsnutty.ridge, or by phone 607 756 4409. Please note that growing conditions differ by region, and an agricultural specialist in Bourgas, Bulgaria might be a better option for your inquiry.

      Good luck!

  15. Avatar of nate sherve nate sherve on February 14, 2019 at 11:06 am

    I haven’t been able to find any forums or blogs about anyone growing them in the southeastern states. Anybody on here know anything about it? I would like to try it out. It seems it would be a very good income farming source. I live in west-central Alabama…

    • Kelsie Raucher on March 26, 2020 at 2:22 pm

      Hi Nate,
      I’d recommend reaching out to the authors of this article to see whether they know anything about forums or blogs pertaining to nut trees in southeastern states. Dawn and Jeff can be reached at Dawnz@znutty.com, https://www.facebook.com/zsnutty.ridge, and/or 607.756.4409.

      Additionally, it would probably be helpful to reach out to your local cooperative extension office.

      • Avatar of Steve Steve on November 26, 2020 at 8:20 pm

        Can you grow hazelnut trees in southwest Arizona???

    • Avatar of john f john f on February 17, 2022 at 1:05 pm

      I’m in Central Arkansas and in the same boat. I’ve got about 120 hazels that are growing great and are in their 4th year this spring . Unfortunately I’ve not seen a single flower, catkin or nut. According to everything I’ve read, they should produce but I’ve never talked to a single person that can confirm. I’ve got about 30 Chestnut trees of varying cultivars that are doing great. They are also a very lucrative cash crop and should do well where you are.

  16. Avatar of Melanie Hogue Melanie Hogue on February 17, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    We are looking for something unique and useful to replace some scruffy shrubs in our front yard right next to the house (in North Georgia. My husband suggested American Hazelnut kept as a shrub. They would get full sun; but are probably going to be within 3-4 feet of the foundation of our house. Will this be okay; or are their root systems not suitable to use this way?

    • Kelsie Raucher on March 26, 2020 at 2:19 pm

      Hi Melanie,

      I’d recommend reaching out to the authors of this article with your inquiry. Dawn and Jeff can be reached at Dawnz@znutty.com , https://www.facebook.com/zsnutty.ridge, and/or 607.756.4409.

      Additionally, since your growing conditions are different in North Georgia, I’d recommend reaching out to your local cooperative extension office: https://extension.uga.edu/.

    • Avatar of Chris Chris on August 7, 2020 at 11:10 am

      Seems like it would very much do okay as a house planting with no damage. I believe the roots are fairly shallow and not terribly aggressive. You could seperate the suckered that will come away with their own roots if wanted.

      • Avatar of Chris Chris on August 7, 2020 at 11:57 am

        Also just heard how much roots they put on in the first couple (few) years. Large but seemingly pliable roots from the pic I saw.

  17. Avatar of Lynne Weir Lynne Weir on February 22, 2019 at 2:38 am

    We are located in the “foothills” of the Texs Hill country – about 35. Mi. Nw of Austin, TX. We are on 5 acres that grows mostly limestone rocks. I do most of my gardening in large pots, due to the alkalinity of the soil, and the difficulty of trying to dig in it – I am almost 70, so this can be an issue. I know pecans are the “best” but tree for Tx.and a not too distant creek, owned by someone else, has quite a few lovely ones. However, I seriously doubt I could expect to live long enough to harvest nuts from any I might plant on my property. One of my nursery catalogs advertises Dwarf American Hazelnuts, and the info says they are good in zones 4-9. I am pretty certain we are in zone 8b.It very rarely rarely gets cold enough, for long enough here to freeze even the top of a pail of water.It does get very hot in the summer – frquently near or even over 100degF, though not generally terribly humid, except around the time of a t-storm. Might I be able to grow these Dwarf Hazelnuts successfully in large pots? I will much appreciate any advice you may be able to offer. Thank you, Lynne Weir

  18. Avatar of bob marchal bob marchal on September 30, 2020 at 6:19 am

    I have some wild hazelnut growing on my property. anybody wants to get a start off mine in northern Michigan call me 989-808-3825

  19. Avatar of Ram Ram on December 6, 2021 at 5:43 am

    What temperatures do Hazel trees require? It wasn’t mentioned in the article and I can’t find any answers on the internet.

  20. Avatar of Amanda Amanda on August 22, 2022 at 5:37 am

    In learning of the mature height and width of the hazelnut tree, I am curious to know if they can be kept in check via pruning in much the same way that fruit trees can be kept small and manageable. Also, would they be happy in Zone 5b, New York?
    Thank you.

  21. Avatar of Krystian Krystian on December 27, 2023 at 10:26 pm

    Native hybrid hazelnuts, a delightful blend of natural abundance and flavorful innovation, are an agricultural gem awaiting wider recognition. Renowned for their taste and health benefits, hazelnuts are a staple in numerous consumer-loved food products. However, their limited supply, primarily from Oregon and Turkey, highlights an untapped opportunity in Eastern North America, where native hazelnut trees (Corylus americana) thrive.

    Remarkably hardy and disease-resistant, these native trees flourish across diverse climates, from Louisiana to Quebec. Despite their robustness, native nuts are smaller and less flavorful compared to the European hazelnuts (Corylus avellana). This is where the magic of hybridization comes into play. Over the past century, crossbreeding has produced varieties that combine the best of both worlds – the resilience of American hazels and the taste of their European counterparts.

    Not only are these hybrid hazelnuts a boon for consumers, but they also present a low-maintenance, high-yield option for growers. They start bearing nuts in just 4 years, with substantial yields by the sixth or seventh year. Plus, they can be cultivated as either bushes or single-stem trees, each form having its own advantages.

    In areas like New York’s Finger Lakes region, these hybrids are thriving without pesticides or fungicides, proving their environmental resilience. This is especially noteworthy considering the susceptibility of European hazelnuts to Eastern Filbert Blight, a challenge that hybridization is helping to overcome.

    Organizations like the Northern Nut Growers Association and the Society of Ontario Nut Growers, along with newer initiatives, are championing these native hybrids. Their efforts are driving hazelnut cultivation across North America, turning it into a financially attractive and environmentally sustainable crop.

    For those interested in exploring more about such innovative agricultural practices and other fascinating topics, I highly recommend visiting Codzienny Ekspert. This website offers a treasure trove of insights and information that can enrich your understanding of various fields. Whether you’re a professional grower or an enthusiast in the realm of sustainable agriculture, this resource is invaluable.

  22. Avatar of Marta Marta on February 16, 2024 at 8:11 am

    Hazelnut trees, also known as hazels, are a genus of fruit trees in the birch family (Betulaceae). They are valued both for their edible nuts and for their attractive appearance and decorative landscape values.

    Here is some important information about hazelnut trees:

    Distribution: Hazelnut trees are native to North America, Europe and Asia. They grow in both natural and cultivated conditions.

    Botanical description: Hazelnut trees can grow to various sizes, typically ranging from 4 to 12 meters in height. They have smooth, gray bark and characteristic, feathery leaves that turn green to gold in autumn.

    Fruiting: Hazelnuts are edible nuts that grow in hard shells, surrounded by an outer shell containing an inedible ingredient. They ripen in autumn, usually from September to October, depending on the region.

    Cultivation: Hazelnut trees are relatively easy to grow. They need well-drained soil and access to full sun, although they can tolerate some shade. They are resistant to diseases and pests, which makes them attractive plants for gardeners.

    Uses: Hazelnuts are a popular cooking ingredient, used in many recipes, from desserts to salads. They are rich in protein, healthy fats and many vitamins and minerals, which makes them a valuable element of a healthy diet. Moreover, hazelnut wood is valued in carpentry due to its durability and beautiful grain.

    Ecological importance: Hazelnut trees also play an important ecological role, providing food for a variety of animal species, including birds and small mammals. Their roots also help stabilize the soil and control erosion.

    Overall, hazelnut trees are valuable plants from both an economic and ecological point of view, offering nutritious fruit, landscape beauty and ecosystem services.

    Please visit the website JakToZrobisz. This website offers a wealth of inspiring advice, practical tips and interesting articles on various areas of life. Regardless of whether you are interested in DIY, cooking, design or personal development, you will definitely find something interesting for yourself here. Thanks to easy navigation and understandable content presentation, using this website is pleasant and allows you to quickly find the information you need.

  23. Avatar of Pompa Pompa on March 6, 2024 at 1:18 am

    Is it possible to increase the production and availability of hybrid hazelnuts in North America by developing local initiatives and supporting small-scale growers?

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