The Ontario Hazelnut Association (OHA) has received federal funding of almost half a million dollars to encourage faster development of the fledgling industry. Even with this funding boost, it will be 2021 before the first sizeable crop of hazelnuts can be expected from a group of tree nut farmers.
With an estimated harvest of about 135,000 to 200,000 pounds, it’s all good news for Ferrero Canada, the maker of Nutella and Ferrero Rocher chocolates. The confectioner built a manufacturing plant in Brantford, Ontario in 2006 but sources most of its hazelnuts from Turkey. Ever since, managers have encouraged the Ontario Hazelnut Association to ramp up to 23,000 acres. To date, about 300 to 400 acres are in the ground.
Growers expect five years before any meaningful production and more likely, six years before machine harvesting is required. Even then, growers will need to meet Ferrero’s size and shape standards from specified clonal varieties.
"The OHA is incredibly pleased to be receiving this tremendous support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC),” says Linda Grimo, chair, OHA. “This project has been making significant research contributions to the development of the hazelnut industry in Ontario by creating new innovations in micropropagation, variety selection, and orchard management.”
The goal is to enhance early development of hazelnut trees, develop strategies to mitigate drought stress in nursery trees and establish production techniques to multiply hazelnut plants for commercial use. This project is being conducted in partnership with the University of Guelph and Ferrero Canada.
Member of Parliament for London North Centre, Peter Fragiskatos on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lawrence MacAulay, announced the investment of up to $492,052 to the Ontario Hazelnut Association (OHA) in Simcoe.
Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada October 11, 2017 news release.