Although the harvest came in well under projections, the state's hazelnut crop continues to see higher numbers than ever before

PMG FILE PHOTO - Hazelnut industry leaders are saying the 2018 yield is smaller than original projected, but still represents an overall increase from last  year's harvest

With the annual hazelnut harvest in the state winding down, industry leaders are saying this year's yield is smaller than the original prediction, but still an overall increase from last year's harvest.

The Newberg area produces mass amounts of hazelnuts and Oregon as a whole produces virtually all of the hazelnuts bought in the United States.

Meredith Nagely, manager of the Oregon Hazelnut Industry Office, said last year's crop totaled more than 31,000 tons. This year's crop number, predicted by a USDA survey, was expected to be around 52,000 tons, but will likely end up around 47,000 tons.

"So it's still up somewhat considerably from last year," Nagely said.

Nagely said that increase is the result of adding new acreage for farming and harvesting hazelnuts, which are purchased mainly by the snack food industry.

There are about 800 Oregon families farming hazelnuts, according to the Oregon Industry Hazelnut Office, and Nagely said the average yield was nearly $97 million during the past five years. She said over the past 10 years, the amount of acreage dedicated to hazelnuts has grown from 33,000 acres to more than 73,000 acres. However, only about 40,000 acres are in production currently.

"And it's just going to keep growing," she said.

The countries of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia are also major hazelnut producers.

Nagely said going forward in the next few years, she expects the size of the state's hazelnut crop to continue to grow. While she does expect it to level out at some point following a "huge boon in planting in the last few years," she said more people are now still coming into the industry.

"We've gone from 200 members to well over 800 in the last few years," she said. "These are grower members, folks who have businesses within the industry. We know we're going to continue to see larger and larger crop sizes."

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