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Ideal weather delivers abundant hazelnut harvest

by: JEFF MCDONALD  - Dennis Melcher's hazelnut harvest took longer, but produced a greater yield than a typical harvest. Late September rains delayed harvest time for Dennis Melcher, but they did not diminish it.

The St. Paul hazelnut farmer had one of his better crops this year. He attributes the success of the crop to ideal weather conditions over the course of the year.

“Conditions must have been right – the filberts set on and everything came to fruition,” he said. “It always comes down to Mother Nature that basically decides things.”

Three to five inches fell at the end of September over a weeklong period in Northern Marion County, delaying harvest for Melcher and other farmers.

The biggest impact of the rains was felt by local sweet corn farmers, many who lost some of their crops in the wind and rain.

At Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm east of Woodburn, the rains meant a loss of two fields of sweet corn totaling 30 acres, said Barb Iverson, co-owner.

“The corn matured to a point where we didn’t want it anymore,” Iverson said. “We couldn’t get into the harvest because of the rain.” by: JEFF MCDONALD  - Dennis Melcher's hazelnut harvest took longer, but produced a greater yield than a typical harvest.

For Melcher, whose 350-acre farm produces up to 5,000 pounds of hazelnuts per acre, the rains broke the harvest into two – starting in mid-September and finishing last week, he said.

“The rains changed the dynamic of the harvest,” Melcher said. “The grounds were wet and the nuts got stuck in the mud.”

The storm complicated the harvest, but most hazelnut farmers did pretty well this year, said Chip Bubl, an Oregon State University extension agent at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora.

“The harvest takes more time and costs more money, but we are lucky the weather has turned out so nice these last few weeks,” he said.




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