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B y : Greg Henderson

Little did I know how important the hazelnut indus-try would become to Oregon when I watched my uncle Ray ducking under tree limbs when dragging a harrow through his filbert orchard over fifty years ago. It has become more than just important. (I’m going to use “hazelnuts” and “filberts” interchangea-bly).

The state of Oregon grows 95% of America’s hazelnuts on acreage that seems to be multiplying daily as more is planted every season. There is currently about 800 hazelnut farms in Oregon. Everything is just right, especially in the Willamette Valley, to grow the small round nut that is favored in many parts of the world.

“Oregon hazelnut growers can expect a record-high crop in 2018, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The latest production forecast issued Aug. 21 calls for 52,000 tons of hazelnuts, surpassing last year’s total of 32,000 tons and the previous record of 49,500 tons set in 2001.

Meredith Nagely, manager of the Hazelnut Industry Office in Aurora, Ore., said the report comes as little surprise. Hazelnuts tend to be alternate bearing, meaning low yields one year are usually followed by higher yields the next.

Overall hazelnut acreage is also on the rise, with 72,353 acres of orchards across the state — including 40,000 acres of mature, nut-bearing trees. Total acreage has more than doubled in the last 10 years, Nagely said, and rose from 66,980 acres in 2017.” https://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-hazelnut-filbert -crop-usda-2018/

While Oregon farmers produce 95% of America’s hazelnuts the farmers halfway around the world in Turkey produce 75% of the world’s hazelnuts. It is a critical part of the Turkish agricultural industry.

Turkey, tariffs and hazelnuts suddenly become an important topic of conversation. The lira, Turkey’s currency, has suffered a devaluation recently with serious consequences in the global marketplace. International trading negotiations adjust according to currency valuations impacting the industries producing traded sector crops. Additionally, the bumper crop of hazelnuts in Turkey in 2017 may also impact prices based on increases in supply. Ore-gon expects a bumper crop in 2018 while also plac-ing 20,000 more tons of hazelnuts on the market than a year ago.

The U.S. decision to increase tariffs on agricultural crops to China has a possibly serious impact on Chinese trade, a country gaining interest in Oregon’s hazelnuts. With Turkey’s currency devaluation, large supply of hazelnuts, Oregon’s bumper crop and increasing acreages, there comes an important education requiring a steep learning curve to avoid harm to the hundred year-old hazelnut industry in Oregon.

As the lira loses value against the dollar, the cost of its hazelnuts falls on the global market – under-cutting prices worldwide.

Oregon famers are preparing to harvest the 2018 crop while they watch events in both Turkey and China, and Washington D.C.

Jason Norris, EVP of Research at Ferguson Wellman Capital Management in Portland addresses this topic in his August 17, 2018 report.

Greg Henderson, Publisher, Southern Oregon Business Journal

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