American hazelnut is a tree native to North America that can grow as tall as 15 feet. The trees are relatively low-maintenance, easy to grow and care for, and tolerant of drought and cold. Hazelnut trees live as long as 20 years, producing up to six quarts of nuts annually under optimum conditions. Also called filberts, the trees make an excellent addition to any landscape. To maintain health, control disease and ensure nut production, you should begin to care for American hazelnut trees immediately after planting.
Water young American hazelnut trees frequently during the first two years. This encourages establishment of the root system. After the first two years, water only during times of heavy drought. Hazelnut trees are very drought-resistant, and rainfall typically provides adequate moisture for growth and fruit production.
Fertilize immediately after planting and again during the first spring after new growth develops. One pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer spread in a circle around the base of the tree ensures adequate nutrition for the entire root system. Beginning in the second year, fertilize early each spring, increasing the amount of fertilizer by one pound each year.
Weed the area around your hazelnut tree often to encourage uniform growth and establishment. Till during the first year, and till or use herbicides beginning in the second year. Replace mulch and weed barriers whenever necessary.
Protect your trees from grazing and trampling by livestock or wildlife, especially until the end of the first year. You can use plastic netting, fencing or irritants to prevent damage by rodents and deer.
Prune during the winter when the tree goes dormant to encourage air circulation, improve sunlight penetration and minimize suckers. Suckers from hazelnut trees grow rapidly and can cause the formation of thickets. Regularly prune away damaged and diseased branches.
Harvest nuts as soon as the husks begin turning yellow. Wildlife will eat nuts that turn brown and fall from your tree. You can handpick the nuts, or shake the tree until the nuts fall loose. Store picked nuts in a cool location, inside a covered container.
Protect your American hazelnut from extreme cold. Hazelnut trees are tolerant of cold unless flowering. If wind or cold is damaging your tree, transplant it to a warmer location or nearer a building for wind protection.
Watch for signs of disease or insect infestation in your tree. Hazelnut trees are vulnerable to blight, a fungal disease. Bud mites are another problem for hazelnut trees, and they can infect the buds and destroy the flowers and shoots.