It’s pruning season next door at Kirk Family Filberts, the family that grows the hazelnuts we use in Rogue Hazelnut Spiced Rum.
Lance Kirk says pruning is one of the most important chores he’ll do all year. Hazelnuts don’t grow in the shade, so each branch must be exposed to sunlight. And that’s where pruning comes in. The tree is carefully shaped and trimmed so that the sun reaches all parts of the tree.
Removing dead wood and old wood also makes the rest of the tree more productive.
Lance and his crew will use this time of year to scout for Eastern Filbert Blight, a fungal disease that leaves ugly black scabs on the tree. Once the cankers encircle the branch, they cut off the water supply and the branch dies. Proper pruning is the only cure.
The harvest will get underway in September when autumn winds start to knock the hazelnuts out of the tree. Oregon grows 99% of the U.S. crop.
When the Kirks are done, we’ll roast the hazelnuts in a pizza oven and then place them in the copper pot to give Hazelnut Spiced Rum it’s uniquely Oregon flavor.