Hazelnut harvest underway on Vancouver Island as blight affects trees

Hazelnut harvest underway on Vancouver Island as blight affects trees

WATCH: The hazelnut harvest is underway on Vancouver Island orchards right now and farmers say it’s looking like it will be a good one. They could use a break as their nut trees are facing a devastating blight that’s forced many to cut back trees and wiped out some farms altogether.

The buzz of harvest echoed over Wade’s Hazelnut Farm in Chemainus Monday as the orchard’s busiest time of year began.

“We’re pretty lucky we got a lot of help,” said owner Darby Wade.

“So hopefully we can get through it.”

These are hard years in hazelnut farming as eastern filbert blight has wiped out entire farms in the Fraser Valley. It has gradually reduced production then killed orchard trees one by one, spreading throughout the province.

“We’ve been sort of trying to dodge that bullet for about five years now,” said Wade. “You know I think it was unrealistic to think that we would never get it.”

The blight first surfaced on Vancouver Island three years ago, but this is the first year Wade’s Hazelnut Farm has seen it in their trees.

“So we tried to take what we could see was in the trees out and we’re going to try to burn that to minimize the damage of the blight,” said Wade.

“Because there is no cure for it,” said former owner Terry Foote. “The only thing you can do is to go with resistant varieties.”

Tree clippings with the blight on them are now buried beneath a tarp awaiting open burning season and Darby Wade is planning to plant new blight-resistant trees next year.\

The province is contributing a total of $300,000 to farmers replanting efforts across B.C.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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