Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative

The purpose of the Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative is to support the growth and commercialization of the hazelnut industry in the Upper Midwest through grower support, targeted research, and technology transfer.  Download the Upper Midwest Hazelnut Strategic Plan developed in 2007 to learn more about the Initiative.

The Work of the UMHDI

Supporting Growers Through Outreach Education

Surveys to date have identified 130 hazelnut growers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa with nearly 135 acres of production.  To meet the needs of these early-adopter growers, UMHDI partners conduct field days, conferences, and other training programs.  Field days are typically offered in late-summer and through the fall to coincide with harvest and processing.  The annual Upper Midwest Hazelnut Growers Conference is held every year the first full weekend of March.  Providing technical assistance to growers is a key part of commercializing hazelnuts as a profitable and sustainable crop.

Identifying Select Hybrids From On-Farm Plantings

Early-adopter hazelnut producers in the Upper Midwest are growing hybrid seedlings derived from crosses between European, Beaked, and American hazelnuts.  UMHDI researchers are helping find the best of these plants and evaluate them in replicated germplasm trials across the region.  The hope is some of these plants have the yield, kernel quality, plant form, winter hardiness, and disease resistance necessary for a commercially vialbe cultivar for the Upper Midwest.  To help ensure development of a diversity of locally-adapted germplasm, UMHDI growers are involved in the plant evaluation process through the Hazelnut Improvement Program (HIP).

 Unlocking the Potential of American Hazelnut

The extensive wild populations of American hazelnut (Corylus americana) in Northern Wisconsin and Minnesota offer an opportunity to develop cultivars from native plant material.  UMHDI researchers have made initial selections from these populations and are working to evaluate them in replicated performance trials while also making controlled crosses for development of future cultivars.  With tremendous genetic diversity to work with, it is possible hazelnut cultivars could come straight from the wild as has happened with other food species native to North America, such as cranberry and blueberry.

Facilitating Infrastructure, Market, and Product Development

The Upper Midwest's hazelnut industry is driven primarily by early adopter growers with small but expanding plantings.  With strong consumer demand the growers are working to develop processing technology and grower-owned processing businesses to maximize returns.  The partners of the UMHDI are helping with scaling-up the industry to realize the full potential of hazelnuts.

Establishing Best Management Practices

Most cultivated hazelnuts in the Upper Midwestare grown as multi-stemmed shrubs in hedgerows similar to highbush blueberries.  Projects are underway to develop best management practices for establishement, fertilization, renewal pruning, and pest management.  The hedgerow production system has great potential for use in conservation plantings that deliver economic returns AND improved soil and water quality.

Developing Propagation Protocols

Development of a commercial hazelnut industry depends on low-cost propagation techniques that can generate vigorous and low-cost nursery plants.  Hazelnut has proven to be difficult to propagate, particularly American hazelnut.  UMHDI researchers have developed mound-layering protocols and are working to develop suitable protocols for stem cuttings and micro-propagation.

 

 

 

Program Partners

Dr. Michael Bell
Professor

UW-Department of Community and Environmental Sociology
michaelbell@wisc.edu
Program Role: human organization for sustainable food systems

Dr. Lois Braun
Post Doctoral Research Associate
University of Minnesota
brau0259@umn.edu
Program Role: vegetative propagation, plant evaluation and improvement

Dr. Mike Demchik
Associate Professor of Forestry
UW-Steven's Point
mdemchik@uwsp.edu
Program Role: wild American hazelnut screening and selection, genetic diversity analysis

Jason Fischbach
Agriculture Agent
UW-Extension
jason.fischbach@ces.uwex.edu
Program Role: outreach education, HIP, hybrid and American hazelnut evaluations

Jeff Jensen
President
Minnesota Hazelnut Foundation
jeff@jenagres.com
Program Role: outreach education, business development

Dr. Anthony Kern
Chair

Dept. of Biology and Chemistry
Morningside College
kerna@morningside.edu
Program Role: EFB screening, genetic diversity analysis

Dr. Jim Lane
Professor of Chemistry

UW - Superior
jlane@uwsuper.edu
Program Role: hazelnut oil

Dr. Brent McCown
Professor of Horticulture

UW-Madison
bhmccown@wisc.edu
Program Role: vegetative propagation

 

Michelle Miller
Associate Director

UW-Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems
mmmille6@wisc.edu
Program Role: human organization for regional sustainable food systems

Dr. Don Wyse
Professor of Agronomy

University of Minnesota
wysex001@umn.edu
Program Role: program development, vegetative propagation research, replicated performance trials

Eric Zeldin
Research Scientist

UW-Madison
elzeldin@wisc.edu
Program Role: vegetative propagation