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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Will Hazelnuts Grow in Las Vegas?

Q. As a kid growing up in Portland we had a couple of filbert trees. Will they grow in Las Vegas? 

Mark Ruben at the Gilcrease Orchard with peanuts.
A. Filbert is a type of a hazelnut and will have a tough time here. I have seen them growing in the mountains of the Caucuses where it is cool rather than the lower, hot elevations of Armenia. There is a variety of filbert called Willamette which tells you a little bit about what kind of conditions (Willamette Valley of Oregon) they prefer.

            I tried two filberts (male and female) at the orchard several years ago. They were given to me, reluctantly, by Dave Wilson Nursery to try after I pleaded several times to obtain them for testing. They warned me that they would not work. I pulled them from the orchard after the first season due to a lack of vigor.

            But the trees were not in good shape when I planted them and they really struggled for one season demonstrating leaf scorch and just some really bad stress even though they were in the middle of the orchard, the soil was composted and mulched.

            I would have liked to try them again with some trees that were in better condition from the beginning. This time I would put some shade cloth over them for the first season until they got established and demonstrated some strong growth. Then I would remove the shade cloth in the fall when it is cooler and let them acclimate though the fall and following spring.

            The next season, if they appear to be healthy, I would not put shade cloth on them unless they looked like they lost some vigor. After the second season, it is “sink or swim” and no shade cloth would be used.

 Nuts which will grow in the Las Vegas climate include almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts (both from Pinon and Italian stone pine) and even peanuts! In our desert climate because of water issues and space limitations it is best to focus on the smaller nut trees like almond, pistachio and pine nuts rather than the larger types like walnut and pecan. Peanuts grow underground on a vine and grow well here.

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