Breeders Seek NYS American Hazelnut Seeds/Plants

Tom Molnar the hazelnut breeder at Rutgers University and Shawn Mehlenbacher the hazelnut breeder at Oregon State University would like to obtain native American hazelnut, Corylus americana seeds/plants from across NYS.  American hazelnut has good resistance to Eastern filbert blight and has good cold hardiness, unfortunately the nut quality isn't as good (size, shell thickness) as with the European hazelnut.  The breeders would like to increase the American hazelnut genetic material they have to make crosses with some of the better European hazelnuts in their breeding programs.  If you have access to wild plants or know someone who does they would appreciate obtaining either seeds or plants from across NYS.  You can contact Tom Molnar at molnar@aesop.rutgers.edu and Shawn Mehlenbacher at shawn.mehlenbacher@oregonstate.edu. 

Nationally and internationally there is a growing market for hazelnuts.  This nut producing plant has advantages over annually sown crops in that it is essentially a permanent form of agriculture.  Planted one time these crops will produce for decades so that soil tillage is eliminated and the potential for erosion greatly reduced.  Eastern filbert blight is one of the major pest issues affecting hazelnut production and Corylus americana, one of two native hazels is an excellent source of resistance.  There is a great deal of genetic variance among American hazelnuts; some produce large nuts which is desirable in a breeding program.  The more native genetic material these researchers obtain the larger the gene pool they have to work with and who knows what useful genetic traits a given plant may contain. 

So if you have access to local Corylus americana or know someone who does please contact Tom and Shawn.  A commercial hazelnut industry is beginning to emerge in the eastern U.S.  We have a great opportunity to assist in the development of superior varieties with multiple gene resistance to Eastern filbert blight, bud mite, etc.

Thank you in advance for your assistance. 

Carl

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