EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Hazelnut growers in Turkey ramped up production this year, driving down prices for growers in Oregon.
The Hazelnut Growers Bargaining Association said Tuesday that Oregon growers will get a starting minimum price of 96.5 cents per pound for their crop this fall, The Register-Guard reported. That’s lower than last year’s starting price of $1.18 per pound, and a big drop from the record price of $1.70 per pound in 2014.
“The price is lower than probably the growers were expecting,” said Doug Olsen, the association’s president. “But that is where the market came out, and it is a good place to start so we can move this crop.”
Oregon produces nearly all United States hazelnuts, but only 3 to 4 percent of the world’s supply.
Turkey leads the world in hazelnut production. Its crop is expected to reach about 750,000 tons, an increase of 150,000 to 200,000 tons from last year, said Terry Ross said, the association’s executive director, who represented growers in the negotiations.
The value of the Turkish lira also continues to fall against the dollar, which makes Turkish hazelnuts a better buy for international buyers. Oregon exports about half of its annual crop to international markets
Experts predict this year’s Oregon crop will be smaller than last year’s 44,000 tons even though the number of acres growing hazelnuts has increased. The association estimates that hazelnut trees are planted on about 75,000 acres in Oregon, and trees on about 45,000 of those acres are producing nuts — up from 32,000 acres five years ago.
Many growers have responded to Eastern filbert blight, a deadly fungus that has decimated hazelnut orchards, by replacing diseased trees with younger disease-resistant varieties.