Growers entering the emerging hazelnut industry have new information thanks to new research from AgriFutures Australia on a variety selection, crop management and budgeting for a profitable return on investment.

Enjoying rapid growth and in demand world-wide, hazelnuts are providing an attractive option for small-holders and long-term investors, and the recently published Hazelnuts in Australia: productivity and economic analysis for industry expansion report is assisting the local sector expand into new regions.

There is significant room for expansion of the local industry, given Australia imports approximately 3,500t of hazelnut product annually, primarily from Turkey.

The report provides valuable information to assist investors make considered decisions before entering the industry, including economic analysis of production costs, timelines to profitability based on varying yields, and the impact of interest payments on finance.

Prepared by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) through funding from AgriFutures, the report details varietal trials in three different regions – Orange in Central West NSW, Yanco in the Riverina and Dareton in the Sunraysia area.

Hazelnuts have traditionally been grown in temperate climates with reliable rainfall, however, the research assessed the suitability of the crop to the lower rainfall areas with access to irrigation from the Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers.

AgriFutures emerging industries senior manager, Dr Olivia Reynolds said more research is needed to better understand the different varietal responses to environment and climatic conditions that were observed during the trial.

“The results from the variety trials show that in the Riverina three tonnes per hectare is achievable, and depending on price, labour costs and interest on finance, it is possible for new orchards to reach breakeven within seven to 10 years,” said Reynolds.

The emerging industry has traditionally been built around small family farms of 5 hectares on average, however the returns on offer and the market growth is now attracting larger players to the Australian industry – Agri Australias, a subsidiary of the Ferrero Group, has planted one million hazelnut trees in the Riverina region in New South Wales.

The AgriFutures Emerging Industries program is supporting the expansion of the Australian industry, with a new multi-year national research program now under development, based on the recommendations of the Australian Hazelnut 2030 Strategic Blueprint.

The Blueprint was written by the Hazelnut Growers of Australia Inc. and sets out eight priority areas for future research, development and extension to grow the industry.

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