B.C.’s hazelnut industry is fighting back after a devastating outbreak of blight
B.C. hazelnut growers are being encouraged to swap out dying trees with disease-resistant varieties in an effort to rebuild the industry after a devastating outbreak of blight.
Last fall, farmers removed 3,025 old trees and replanted 8,254 blight-resistant trees on 15.4 hectares (38 acres) across the province.
The B.C. government has committed $300,000 over the next three years to help with the renewal process. The program is accepting applications for the coming fall until July 15.
On Friday, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham visited two family-owned orchards in Chilliwack.
“The past decade has not been kind to our province’s hazelnut sector,” she said, adding hazelnuts are one of the only edible tree nuts that grow well in the B.C. climate. “Hazelnuts are a delicious and nutritious source of protein and healthy fats in high demand throughout the world.”
Popham visited with pioneer grower Helmut Hooge, who showed her several varieties of disease-resistant trees growing in his orchard.
A short drive down the road, the tour continued at Fraser Valley Hazelnuts Ltd., a receiving station that does washing, drying and shipping for hazelnut growers. In 2018, the company processed about 21,000 kilograms (46,000 pounds) of nuts, representing approximately 90 per cent of B.C.’s hazelnut production.