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Nut Wars

September 6, 2012

The cackling early morning call of the Stellar jay in September signals that the hazelnuts in the orchard are ripe and edible. The red squirrel’s chattering and bantering with the Stellar jay signals the nut war has begun. Winner takes all.

Quick crop inspection with the tool of choice – the indispensable orchard ladder.

We have 8 hazelnuts in our orchard that are approximately 15 years old and producing copious amounts of nuts. If they are left to ripen on the tree we would harvest exactly three nuts by late September. Between the jays, ravens and red squirrels – the nut wars rage in the tree tops leaving us with little more than piles of empty husks.

Early September our hazelnuts are white and seem unripe to the human eye. Not so say Sammy Jay and Chatterer Red Squirrel.

I choose to pick hazelnuts alongside my feathered and furry nut connoisseurs and ripen them in the greenhouse on wooden trays. This is not how you harvest nuts – but we insist on having a share of the

Sun ripened nuts (left) and Stellar jay or red squirrel perfection nut cracking (right).

crop until our integrated pest management plan is put in place!

The walnuts are weeks away from being ready and simply drop to the ground for harvest. Surprisingly the birds and squirrels don’t bother with these mammoth green globes…yet.

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