Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Oregon’s Hazelnut Harvest

Hazelnuts have been known by a variety of names. It has been called the Cobb nut, the Pontiac nut, the Spanish nut, and the Lombard. Many people also call them filberts. However, there is some debate about where the name “filbert” came from. Some speculate that the name filbert originated from the Old English term for “full beard,” in reference to the nut’s outer husk. Others believe the name was derived from St. Philibert, because August 22 – a date that corresponds in England to the ripening of the earliest filbert – is dedicated to him. Whether they are called hazelnuts or filberts, one thing is certain, the hazelnut industry plays an important role in Oregon’s agricultural sector.

Oregon’s hazelnut orchards are not spread evenly around the state. Nearly all are located in the Willamette Valley. Benton, Clackamas, Lane, Linn, Marion, Polk, Washington, and Yamhill counties have the vast majority of Oregon’s hazelnut orchards. These eight counties account for 99% of the commercial hazelnut acreage grown in Oregon in 2017.

The Oregon Hazelnut Marketing Board estimates there are about 1,000 Oregon farms growing hazelnuts in Oregon. Oregon Employment Department (OED) records counted 59 firms in 2020 categorized in the “tree nut farming” industry. These 59 firms that report their employment to the OED are covered under the unemployment insurance (UI) program. There are obviously many more hazelnut farmers than that in Oregon, and the discrepancy is mostly due to the large number of farms that are not covered by unemployment insurance. Many smaller farms that don’t exceed certain payroll thresholds, primarily use farm labor contractors, or almost exclusively employ family members are examples of farms that are not covered.
Although employment may be significantly undercounted, due to the lack of unemployment insurance coverage, the graph gives a good indication of the seasonal employment pattern that occurs in the industry as well as the industry’s long-term growth. Employment is relatively steady throughout most of the year, except in October. October’s employment level increases and peaks like clockwork every year as the annual hazelnut crop is harvested. In 2001, the industry’s annual average employment was 103. By 2019 the annual average employment tripled, with employment of 309.

To learn more about Oregon's hazelnut harvest, read the full article by regional economist Pat O'Connor

No comments: