Oregon is one of the world’s top hazelnut producers.
Although Oregon grows 99.9 percent of the hazelnuts in the United States, the crop makes up just 5 percent of global production.
Let’s face it, Oregon will never be Turkey. About 80 percent of the world’s hazelnuts are grown in that Mediterranean country. Still, Oregon produces almost all the hazelnuts—also known as filberts—grown stateside. (Washington state grows the other 0.01percent.) Last year, 30,000 acres of hazelnut trees produced 39,000 tons of nuts in Oregon. Seventy percent of the crop was exported, with most of it going to China, a country with a penchant for snacking on hazelnuts. Another notable buyer of the Oregon crop? The Italy-based Ferrero Group, which makes Nutella and Ferrero Rocher chocolates.
Hazelnut grower Don Christensen, who farms 500 acres of trees in the Amity area, says Oregon has yet to produce enough volume of nuts to keep up with demand. But because prices for hazelnuts have risen dramatically in the past few years, he hopes more Oregon farmers will replace acres of rye and grass seed with hazelnut trees, just like he did.