Farmers can access provincial funding to plant disease resistant filberts. (Andrea Rondeau/Citizen file)

Provincial program aims to keep Vancouver Island hazelnuts growing

The goal is to replace trees and establish new orchards with disease-resistant varieties

Eastern filbert blight claimed hundreds of acres of B.C. hazelnut orchards over the last four years.

But a provincial funding program is giving farmers — including those on Vancouver Island — a new incentive to keep planting. The goal is to replace trees and establish new orchards with disease-resistant varieties, all while growing the burgeoning industry.

READ MORE: Farmers say ‘nuts’ to eastern filbert blight

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, “since the Hazelnut Renewal Program launched in 2018, the first two application intakes — fall 2018 and spring 2019 — resulted in 11,503 new trees planted (21 hectares, or 52 acres) and the removal of approximately 3,025 infected trees (10 hectares, or 25 acres).

The results of the fall 2019 planting season are expected to be as successful and will be reported in February 2020 after field inspections are completed. New eligibility requirements that accommodate different planting densities are expected to attract more farmers into the program.”

There are several hazelnut farms in the Cowichan Valley.

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