We’re Nuts About Earth Day!
It’s no secret that Chocolaterie Stam is a big fan of the environment. After all, our chocolate is a direct result of that rainforest wonder Theobroma Cacao, or the Cocoa tree. But, did you know that Stam’s uses the nuts of the hazelnut bush to make many of its fillings? Our praliné bonbons are a combination of a hazelnut pâté and chocolate.
So, it isn’t surprising that we applaud the work of the Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium. In conjunction with the Arbor Day Foundation, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Rutgers University and Oregon State, they are working to develop disease-resistant, climatically adapted hybrid hazelnuts.
We, at Stam’s are interested because 75% of the world’s commercial production of hazelnuts comes from Turkey which is over 6000 miles from the United States. Yes, the U.S produces about only about 3% of the world commercial hazelnut crop. If that could change and be grown here our carbon footprint could be greatly reduced.
Why so little?
Two factors currently limit wider production of hazelnuts in the U.S.—the inability of hazelnut plants to survive in harsh weather and susceptibility to eastern filbert blight (EFB), a fungal disease. Overcoming these barriers would expand the growing region for hazelnuts to include most of the U.S.
Can it be fixed?
Yes, native wild American hazelnuts (Corylus americana) are resistant to EFB and can survive in cold weather, but they produce tiny, thick-shelled nuts with little commercial value. The European hazelnut (Corylus avellana) is grown commercially and produces large, high-quality nuts but is susceptible to eastern filbert blight and is not cold-hardy.
Besides the carbon footprint that importing from Turkey causes, what other benefits can be had from hybridizing this plant? Well, it is a perennial crop which requires less water than annual crops thus is drought resistant and can be grown on sloping terrain and in marginal soils.
Drought resistant, strategic land use, perennial, carbon food reduction; the hazelnut bush can help reduce carbon emissions and provide commercial yield to less optimal soil conditions. We signed up as a charter patron of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Hazelnut Project and they sent us 3 hazelnut bushes for $20.