As mentioned in one of our previous updates, Tom Cannon has been conducting research into the global hazelnut industry. He is currently in Oregon in the United States, visiting farms, sector organisations, processing facilities and hazelnut retailers.
Most recently he visited the USDA Hazelnut Repository in Corvallis, Oregon. He examined all of the varieties within the collection and heard about the extensive work that has been conducted to combat Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB). This included the creation of brand new varieties that are resistant to this devastating fungus.
While looking at the collection, Tom was shown the Kent, Gunslebert and Ennis Cobnut trees. Cobnuts are a special and cultivated variety of hazelnut. The tree’s have been allowed to grow much taller than in UK cobnut plats. Tom reports the flavours of the Kent Cob were very enjoyable and that it was “distinctively a Kentish cobnut”. The nuts had been left on the tree in the Oregon sun for longer so the husks had become more golden.
One particularly interesting finding was the varieties that have been created from Kentish Cob. The so called ‘grand children’ of the Kent Cob, these were larger in size and maintained the flavour. They are of no interest to the US industry (accept for pollination) due to the oval kernel that we are familiar with but Tom was very impressed with the flavour.
More details about Tom’s trip can be found here: cobnutproject.co.uk
Apple Mosaic Warning
If establishing a new orchard, Prof Mehlenbacher warned about the dangers of importing material to the UK from Spain, Southern Italy, Turkey and Georgia which are more likely to contain Apple Mosaic virus within the trees. Most trees do not show symptoms but the virus can reduce yield by 50%.
So establishing a field with infected trees would be quite a blow and have a significant impact in Kent. If the trees do show symptoms the disease can be seen on the hazelnut leaf with distinctive yellow rings.
EFB is a fungal virus that has infected the hazelnut trees of North America. It enters at bud burst and through the shoots / suckers. The disease is not spread by the nuts.
The disease reveals itself after 2 years and will then slowly kill the tree. Thus making it one of the worst hazelnut diseases. Sadly Kentish Cob would be highly susceptible to the disease if it was ever to reach the UK.