Precocious hazelnut represents a 30 year trial growing several thousand hybrid hazelnuts called filazels or hazelberts at my farm in southwestern Michigan.
In the beginning the huge mortality of the seed strains called Gellatly, Slate, Geneva, Buchanan and Laroka revolved around resistance to filbert blight of which almost 100 percent of these did not make it past year 5. It was only later I found out from a research scientist that the overall genetic base of the hybrid hazels were extremely narrow in terms of immunity to filbert blight. As it turns out Michigan is home of the most virulent form of this blight making it really difficult to find resistant seedlings. As a result the results at first was dismal. It was a lot of trial and error leading to accidental discoveries.
Here is the back story. I was supplying the mail order trade with thousands of these hybrids with one year seedlings and when they went on with other plants and quit ordering I ended up with over 10000 plants with no where to go. (This is the normal operation procedure of the mail order companies to dump on their suppliers.) This was the perfect time along with other seed strains I was developing to see what nature had to offer in terms of healthy plants from a population and then create another healthy population. By year three the blight completely swept through our plantings and removed almost all of the plants except for 60 or so. This was the aha moment for me working with hazels. Now I had a stable population to work from that could be produced from seed. Ideally more plants would have survived that first grow out but I was committed to finding the best and most immune plants by then.
The result: Precocious Hazelnut. As time went on the nut size was smaller than the hazelberts but so was the plant as well and its ability to runner making it ideal for hand and possible machine harvesting. Along with that came the ability to reproduce by runners making clonal propagation easier as well. More and more of the genetics of the American hazelnut came through and this proved overall best to the plants health and longevity including lateral bearing and clean foliage even in heat prone areas. Even though the nuts were smaller, the shells became thinner and easer to crack as well.
Precocious is a strain that combines the best of the American hazelnut with thinner shells and heavy lateral bearing. When we grew them from seed these characteristics continued with 100 percent immunity to filbert blight. In permaculture settings. Precocious hazelnuts can add to the genetic diversity of a population without the fear of the dreaded filbert blight coming back on weaker plants as well as supplying pollen for other American hazelnuts. Precocious hazelnut does not appear to cross with beaked hazels.
Today there are a few other hybrid hazels on the market. More than not, these are likely from the same seed sources I was using in the beginning. The problem with them is in their lack of testing over time. They may appear fine for three or four years. One university has started growing our Precocious hazels as a seed strain as well as for cultivar development. Why? They had seen the yields in other grow outs of our seed strains in other locations and the yields and immunity was very high.
The Precocious showed to have the highest yields per plant. The new hazels from Oregon are not sufficient here to repel disease and their seedlings are not adapted as well. Many other nurseries that grow hazels are often selected American hazels with thick shells and variable yields. These are not bad necessarily, it is just that they lack the vigor and lateral bearing tendencies found in the Precocious Hazelnut. Unfortunately grown from seed of Yamhill and other hazelnuts from Oregon have all died here. I wished for a better outcome really but from seed it doesn't always mean the resistance will come through in the next population of other seeds from other companies or individuals breeding hazels. It is possible others will try this and hopefully will find other seed strains to make stable but to do so means there is going to be huge loss in the first generation. Precocious takes care of that and is available now. No need to wait another 30 years.
FOUNDATION SEED STOCK: My foundation seed stock allows you to freely name cultivars derived from Precocious hazels. When purchasing I am asking you to use the name 'Precocious Hazelnut" as well as 'developed by Oikos Tree Crops" as the source of the original germplasm. For seed strain and sale of nursery stock: you are required to use the phrase: Developed by "Kenneth Asmus of Oikos Tree Crops". We will provide a logo for your use as well as images of nuts and plants to help you in your advertising. For either usage there is no royalty or other fee that will be applied to the use of our trademarked logo. If you are growing them for your own use, there is no requirement and they can be freely grown and distributed. The requirement of nursery stock ,the above only applies to the use of plant material and seeds are used for plant material. This helps maintain the germplasm as well as knowing the origin as it continues into the future. Anyone can grow them and distribute them but they have to be named as mentioned above if being sold as nursery stock or seeds for propagation. For use in agricultural as produce or direct to consumer consumption it is not required to mention seed source.
Germination Requirements: Seeds were processed and de-husked starting on September 1, 2021. 1-5 % are blanks and we include extra seeds to even out the total quantity of the seeds. Roughly 20 percent of the seeds are the plants we previously called "Ken's Select" These are from larger nuts and from smaller plants with heavy yields. We are now combining them with the Precocious Seed as the differences are small.
For germination begin with a lightly moist Canadian peat moss so no water can be squeezed out with your hands. Let sit for a week at room temperature like that and then Refrigerate 90-120 days at 36-38 F. Do not freeze the seeds. Germination will begin around 90 days and will continue for 1 month or more. Plant seeds one inch deep in well drained soil. Best to use a type of soil mix that is not active in terms of decomposition as this can interfere with the seeds sprouting and destroy the embryo. There might be a portion of seeds that do not sprout the first year. This is normal with hazels and those can be treated like Prunus seeds in that you store them at room temperature through the growing season and do another dormancy period. Things to not do: soak, freeze, crack the nuts
Because of demand, please order them as soon as possible as supplies are very limited this year. For further help with germination: email firstname.lastname@example.org
|Genus & Species||Corylus americana x avellana x americana|
|Height (ft)||10 ft. by 10 ft.|
|Pollination Requirements||Will cross with other individual Precocious seedlings as a seed strain or with other American type hazelnuts as well. Not usually self fertile.|
|Soil||Sandy loam or sandy soils are ideal. Will tolerate a wide range of soils to some extent including clay but not so much high ph soils.|
|Climate||Zones 3-8 Best in cold climates.|
|Ease of Cultivation||One of the easiest nut trees to grow from seed and rewarding every time I do it. As a seedling it is good in production and could generate many cultivars useful for oil as well as nut meats. The idea that this could somehow compete with highly bred cultivars is not really of value. The selection is based on a population level immunity to filbert blight and high yields of lateral bearing shrubs. The nut production is of value only if the population is there to help create a cultivar as well as to use as is.|