JUNCTION CITY, Ore. — Dwayne Bush has been playing and working in and around hazelnut orchards since he was a toddler.
His grandfather, Chester Chase, grew hazelnuts in the Springfield, Ore., area. His father, Jack Bush, grew hazelnuts just north of Coburg, Ore. His uncle, Truman Chase, grew hazelnuts near Junction City, Ore.
Jack Bush purchased the 40-acre Junction City orchard in 1974 and Bush’s Fern View Farms has continued to be in the family since. The farm has a view of Fern Ridge Reservoir.
Dwayne grew up in those orchards, working part-time before going full-time in the hazelnut industry on the family farm after graduating from Oregon State University in 1979. He was a partner in the family farm for several years before he and his wife, Jean, became sole owners of Bush’s Fern View Farms in the late 1990s.
“I like growing them, I like seeing them,” Bush said of hazelnuts. “They take less labor than a lot of crops, less than apples, peaches, produce.”
Bush added that he also likes to eat the nuts, especially when they’ve been honey roasted using the farm’s own recipe.
Over the years, the farm has expanded from the 40-acre Barcelona hazelnut orchard to almost 500 acres of hazelnut trees that includes the Ennis, Jefferson and Yamhill varieties. The trees range in age from 2 to 80 years old. Hazelnut trees can be productive beyond 100 years old, according to Bush.
The farm expansion included building a nut dryer in 1987. It dries the farm’s hazelnuts in addition to the nut crops from other orchards. The nuts are then marketed through Northwest Hazelnuts with most being exported.
The farm also continues to grow hazelnut root stock, a side nursery business that Jack Bush started in the early 1970s.
Dwayne Bush has been an advocate for the state’s hazelnut industry, having served on boards, marketing committees and bargaining associations. He explained that the present tariff situation between the U.S. and China has hurt the hazelnut industry, adding that there was a 25% tariff on the nuts exported to China even before the more recent tariff.
“One bright spot in all of this is that it has allowed our industry to get in touch with government officials in China,” Bush said. “Once the (President) Trump tariff is taken off, we’re hopeful the earlier 25 percent tariff will also be eliminated. A couple people from our industry were sent to China to talk about that possibility.”
Bush explained that Oregon’s 80,000 acres of hazelnuts produces only a small percentage of the world’s crop, but it has averaged about $70 million for the last five years.
While hazelnuts are the main crop for Bush’s farm, the operation also grows a variety of fruits and vegetables and has a farmstand on its property. The stand is open from June through October.