NASS forecasts Oregon hazelnut crop drop
By Eric Mortenson
Oregon’s hazelnut crop is projected at 36,000 tons this year, down about 20 percent from 2013, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
The projection comes as demand for Oregon nuts is expected to increase significantly due to a severe spring freeze in Turkey, which produces about 75 percent of the world supply of hazelnuts. Prices should be good as candy and nut spread makers search for a replacement source, including Ferrero, the Italian company that makes Nutella spread and buys 25 percent of the world production.
Oregon grows 99 percent of U.S. hazelnuts but is a relatively small player internationally, producing about 5 percent of the annual nut harvest. Still, Oregon nuts are popular as an in-shell treat in China, and Turkey’s problems have brought inquiries from national and international companies that buy nut kernels.
Growers have steadily added acreage over the past 10 years, or replaced trees damaged by eastern filbert blight, and Oregon’s production will increase as trees mature. Since 2007, production has bounced up and down. A crop of 36,000 tons this year would be close to production levels of 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012. The biggest recent crop, 47,000 tons in 2009, was followed in 2010 by the smallest, 28,000 tons.