Filberts and hazelnuts are one and the same. Species hail from Europe, North America, and eastern and western Asia. One European species, Corylus avellana, is called European filbert, and both
North American species, C. americana and C. cornuta, are often referred to as American hazelnuts. But there is no strict naming convention.
The standard nut-produc-ing filberts are inclined to grow into large, suckering shrubs that form patches or thickets in time. They are usually trained into small trees reaching 15 to 25 feet tall. This adaptability to training and relatively small size make the filbert the most versatile landscape subject of all the nut trees. As a small tree it will easily fit into small gar dens with room left over for other plants; treated as a shrub it can be used singly or as a dual-purpose hedge. It is beautiful in either form.
Its rounded, ruffled leaves are attractive in their green spring and summer phase, and in fall they turn a pleasing clear to rusty yellow. During winter the long male catkins decorate bare branches. Filberts usually start to bear at 4 years and have an average 50-year productive lifespan.
The European species, C. avellana and C. maxima, have produced the principal cultivars that furnish commercial nuts. These same cultivars are top choices for the home gardener in regions where filbert blight—an incurable bark fungus—is not present. In blight-infested regions, look for hybrid filberts: crosses between European filberts and resistant American species. All European and hybrid filberts need a second filbert as a pollinator.
Climate is a major consideration in choosing which filberts to grow. East of the Rocky Mountains, European filberts are best where winter lows range between -10° F and -I-10° F; in the West the range is-10° F to +20° F. The Euro-pean-American hybrids extend the growing territory to regions that dip to -20° F. The female filbert blossoms appear in mid- to late winter or earliest spring, and they will be ruined if the temperature drops below 15° F.
Filberts do best when planted in a deep, well-drained, fertile, slightly acid soil. But as long as drainage is good, they can grow in soils that are shallow, sandy, or of low fertility. Plant in full sun for best nut production. Where summer rainfall is regular, filberts need little or no supplementary watering. But water regularly during dry spells and in dry-summer areas.
As long as leaf color remains dark green and nut production is good, plants need no fertilizer. If color and growth diminish, give plants nitrogen at the start of the growing period; check with your county or state agricultural extension for recommended amounts.
Early autumn harvest involves picking nuts from the ground after they have been released from their enclosing husks. If you want to be certain to beat hungry wildlife to the crop, pick nuts just as soon as you can twist them in their husks. Though nuts are not fully colored at that time, they are completely ripe and will color up after picking. Place nuts in the sun to dry for several days before storing in cool, but not freezing, temperatures. Heavy crops tend to come in alternate years.
The most serious—and geographically limiting—disease is eastern filbert blight, a bark fungus that- attacks European filberts in particular. There is no cure; the best way to cope with the disease is to avoid planting susceptible cultivars. The eastern American C. americana is a carrier for the disease but is unaffected by it. The only fairly safe areas for European cultivars east of the Rocky Mountains are where no American hazelnuts grow. The blight also has spread to Washington State, and strict quarantines are in place to prevent its spread to other filbert-growing regions in the West.
A bacterial filbert blight common in the Northwest can be controlled by pruning out infected wood (sterilizing pruning shears after each cut) during the dormant season and by spraying just in advance of fall rains. The filbert-worm can attack developing nuts, burrowing inside and devouring the kernels.
European filberts have the largest and most flavorful nuts, and are usually the best choice if blight is not present. 'Barcelona' This is the standard commercial cultivar and is also sold for home planting. The nuts are round. Both 'DuChilly' and 'Royal' will pollinate 'Barcelona'. Origin: southern Europe.
Hybrid filberts have generally smaller nuts than the European types, and the flavor is less distinctive, but plants are hardier (as mentioned above) and have some resistance to eastern filbert blight. Standard cultivars are 'Bixby', 'Buchanan', 'Potomac', 'Reed', 'Rush', and 'Winkler'.
Filbert trained as a shrub
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