The hazelnut industry in New Zealand is a relatively new industry ... however interest is rapidly escalating from prospective growers. 

Frequently asked Questions

Are many people growing Hazels in New Zealand?

The hazelnut industry in New Zealand is a relatively new industry, most orchards planted within the last ten years and on small blocks, however, as success is demonstrated interest is rapidly escalating from prospective growers. The number of trees being planted and orchards planned throughout the South Island is developing substantially-all good news for the industry!

Current plantings are estimated at over 350 000 trees on blocks which average in size from around 300-3000 trees. Plantings extend the length of the South Island from Invercargill to Tasman and some in the North Island, with areas on the South Island’s east coast and central areas being most popular due to its climate with a winter chill and consistently warm, dry summers.

How can I keep up to date with research and knowledge developments?

Research plots have been established at Lincoln University for some years and, through Publications from HGANZ (Hazelnut Growers Association of New Zealand) and the Tree Crops Association, local knowledge and experience is being augmented with local research data-this is essential as overseas data is not always transferable to New Zealand conditions.

Becoming involved in your local branch organizations, through your subscriptions you will receive quarterly magazines with relevant data and articles and the opportunity to attend field days and meetings.

How can I sell my nuts? Is there a market for Hazels in New Zealand?

Most growers choose to sell their nuts in shell to a processing and marketing company. At present demand for the product in New Zealand is especially high in the area of confectionery and cuisine although most of the product at present being used is a poor quality imported nut. NZ currently imports around 250 000 kilos of hazelnuts annually mostly from USA, France, Turkey and Italy. As more product becomes available we are seeing an increase in consumer awareness and subsequent demand for the quality local product. More active marketing strategies will continue to develop this.

Marketing and processing are being carried out at present by four small, independently owned businesses, all based in the South Island, and a larger grower/shareholder owned company - The Hazelnut Company - marketing under the brand name HAZELZ.

Hazelnuts return on average $3.50-4.50/kilo in shell to the grower with the expectation that this price will fluctuate and at times increase as growing demand outstrips supply and processors compete for nut supply to meet their markets (we are already seeing this happen).

When will my trees start to produce nuts?

Trees should be producing a marketable quantity of nuts by years 6-7 however this will be affected by orchard conditions and management practices. Maturity is in years 10-12 in good growing conditions. A mature white heart tree could perhaps be expected to produce around 3-5 kilos/season (on average). Note that although white heart is a smaller variety of tree and has subsequently lower kilo production a larger number of trees may be planted per hectare than many of the larger varieties.

How long will hazelnut trees keep producing for?

As the industry is relatively young in New Zealand we don’t have available the data to know with certainty the expected producing lifespan of a hazelnut tree, however we do know that there are many very mature orchard in other countries and isolated very old trees in parts of the South Island still producing.

Will my pollinator trees produce nuts?

Yes, the trees will cross pollinate between varieties and produce a full crop of nuts although of a different size, shape and quality than your main crop.

How many trees will I be able to plant per hectare?

The spacing and layout of the trees depends a little on the contour, windbreak types, and orchard equipment to be used, approx 600-720/hectare for white heart variety. (Larger varieties will require larger spacing).

How big will the trees grow?

White heart variety trees will grow approx.3.6 metres at maturity when pruned and are easily managed without specialized orchard equipment. They will grow much bigger if left untended.

How much water will I need for irrigation?

The amount of water and the type of system that you will require varies largely depending on soil type/structure, drainage and climate. There are a few orchards in reliable rainfall areas thriving without irrigation, however most areas, especially in the east and central South Island will require summer irrigation.

Maximum amounts for very free draining soils in drought conditions would be around 50 litres per tree per day. Most orchards will require less than this. In some areas you will also require resource consent to utilize your water for horticulture.

Consult your local council or irrigation consultant for more details.

How do I take a soil test?

Contact NZ Labs, Ruakura Research Centre for full information and assistance with soil testing and leaf analysis. Once you have your results discuss them with a reputable fertilizer representative who works in horticulture or a horticultural consultant for fertilizer recommendations.

How are hazelnuts harvested?

They are collected from the ground during a six to eight week period February/March. Vaccuum/suction systems are most commonly used for this purpose.

The nuts are then air dried and stored in onion (net) sacks for transport to a wholesaler for processing and marketing.

Hazels are very stable and can be stored for up to three years in shell with little deterioration in quality if stored dry, in dry rodent free conditions.

How much will it cost to set up a Hazelnut orchard?

This varies significantly and will depend on your property. Things to take into consideration:

  • Irrigation-Is water already available? What type of system will I require?
  • Site preparation
  • Existing windbreaks
  • Possible regressing of the orchard floor
  • Size of the trees
  • Soil condition

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