Ask Our Experts: Growing Hazelnut Trees, Diets for Nursing Mothers and Poison In Compost

MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers receive guidance on growing successful hazelnut trees, appropriate diets for nursing mothers and issues of poison oak in composts.

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    Filberts are wind-pollinated. Just two trees in a yard would have to be planted very close together to effectively pollinate each other.

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MOTHER's column gives MOTHER EARTH NEWs readers a chance to ask our experts about a variety of homesteading problems that are in need of a good answer. 

Growing Hazelnut Trees

I planted two filbert (hazelnut) trees seven or eight years ago. While the trees have thrived (they're 10 feet tall), they've never produced any nuts. Some little, long, squiggly things appear on them, and I get hopeful—but no crop. What's wrong? 

Your trees probably aren't being properly pollinated. (The squiggly things are staminate, or male, blooms. The pistillate, or female, blooms spend the dormant season inside buds and emerge as tight bundles of bright red strands at blooming time.) Two things may be contributing to the problem.

First, filberts are wind-pollinated. Just two trees in a yard would have to be planted very close together to effectively pollinate each other.

Second, most filberts are self-sterile and require another compatible variety in order to produce a crop. While some nurseries do advise that two plants are needed for cross-pollination, what the unwary buyer sometimes gets is two trees that were produced in a stool bed from a mother tree. This clonal reproduction results, of course, in two trees that are the same clone; genetically, they are identical.

I'd suggest you get another filbert of a different variety. The variety Royal is a very effective pollinator and is available from several mail-order nurseries in the eastern U.S.

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