Hazelnut grower Helmut Hooge takes visitors on a tour of his hazelnut farm on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. Three different varieties of eastern filbert blight-resistant trees have been planted on his farm. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)

Hazelnut renewal continues with another round of funding to bolster B.C. industry

‘We’re beginning to see positive results as hazelnut production has almost tripled,’ says ag minister

Hazelnut renewal funding is again on offer to bolster the health and size of B.C. hazelnut orchards.

Growers across the Fraser Valley and beyond have been replanting disease-resistant trees since eastern filbert blight (EFB) almost wiped out the entire industry a decade ago.

Turns out they’re key to the revitalization of the industry.

RELATED: Highly resistant trees save industry from collapse

The latest round of renewal funding will be for replacing orchards, and new plantings.

“We are beginning to see positive results of the program as hazelnut production has almost tripled since it launched and that’s very encouraging for growers in the province,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.

The wind-borne spores first appeared on hazelnut trees in Abbotsford in 2002, drifting from Oregon, and then on a Yarrow farm in 2008.

By 2012 growers across the Fraser Valley worried their orchards were on the verge of being wiped out. Everyone’s diseased crops had to be removed and burned, and replanted with the disease-resistant trees.

RELATED: Renewal at hand for hazelnut industry: Popham

The industry has seen a significant increase in production. Trees that were planted and replaced through the program are leading to measurable growth in the sector.

“We are excited that the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture has continued to support the B.C. hazelnut industry,” said Steve Hope, president of the BC Hazelnut Growers Association, hazelnut grower and co-owner of Fraser Valley Hazelnuts Ltd.

The B.C. government is providing $100,000 for two intake periods in spring and fall 2022.

Since launching in 2018, the renewal program has seen about 55,000 new trees planted on more than 100 hectares (247 acres) and the removal of almost 6,300 infected trees from approximately 21 hectares (52 acres).

Spring intake is accepting applications from Feb. 2 to March 28, 2022, for planting or for removal projects that will occur between March and June 2022.

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