Hazelnut in Georgia

Most scientists agree that the Eastern coast of the Black sea is the most suitable for cultivation of hazelnut and that there we find the roots of its worldwide distribution. Self-Turkish name hazelnut ‘Findik’ comes from the Greek word ‘Corylus’ that means ‘Black sea’.

In Georgian culture hazelnut was known from time immemorial. Historical evidence suggests that in VI. B.C. the local population in their gardens grew wild forms of hazelnut. In the future, for several centuries by means of folk selection were received better grades hazelnut, perfectly adapted to local conditions.

For Georgia hazelnuts had a high economic value and brought a lot of income to the population before the revolution of 1917. Georgia in large quantities exported hazelnuts in the EU countries, by hazelnut plantations were occupied 8-10 times more territory than in Soviet times. Situation began to change only in 1990s, when in coastal areas of Western Georgia began the rapid creation of new plantations and modern processing facilities.

In Georgia today are spread some of native varieties, the main ones are: Shveliskura, Berdznula, Anakliuri, Gulshishvela, Khachapura, Nemsa, etc.

The Georgians have traditionally considered hazelnuts as one of their most significant perennial cultures and of immense economic importance. It is significant that the European market has shown increasing interest in high-quality Georgian hazelnuts and hazelnut products. At present, hazelnuts are grown on a total area of 5800 ha in Georgia, while state development programs have made provisions to extend the area of hazelnut orchards to 50000 ha over the period 1999-2008.

Hazelnuts are mainly grown in regions in which the sum of active annual temperatures ranges from 3800 to 4250°C, average annual rainfall reaches 1500-1900 mm, relative air humidity is 70-75%, and the elevation above sea level is between 450 and 650 m, though hazelnuts also grow naturally on elevations of up to 1800 meters above sea level. Two hazelnut species, Corylus pontica and Corylus colchica, were the ancestors of various endemic hazelnut varieties.

Native grades in Georgia have a number of advantages:
powerful root system of local varieties of hazelnut in sufficient quantities draws all the necessary components from the soil, and therefore, in Georgia, are almost not applied chemical fertilizers;

local varieties almost do not suffer from various diseases, and therefore in Georgia practically does not use pesticides. And it is no coincidence that the forest nut, cultivated on the territory of Georgia, much less pollution than permitted strict international sanitary standards.

 

Georgian varieties of hazelnut

Anakliuri

this grade is found in all regions of Georgia, but among the varieties that are common in Megrelia and Abkhazia, both quantitatively and qualitatively occupies the first place. In Western Georgia Matures 15 – 20 July, while in the Eastern regions of Georgia 15 – 20 August. Husk longer than fetus, brown, easily removed from the shell, the fruit of a round and a bit flat, caliber 19-21, 21+, shell’s thickness 1.2 – 1.6. mm. Kernel is always fills the shell, average weight of 2.5 to 2.9, the Output from the kernel 48 – 52%, fat 67 – 69%

Berdznula

this grade walnut found throughout Western Georgia, but the greatest distribution it received in Guria and Samegrelo. “Berdznula”- is a high-yielding, rapidly growing varieties. The first harvest is produced in 3 years after planting, but reaching maximum levels in the 7-15 age group. The crop ripens in the end of July – beginning of August. One Bush gives an average of 5-10 kg of Fruit larger than the average size with beautiful colouring of light brown color, which is tightly fills the shell. The shuck is a bit more fruit. A ripe walnut husk comes off easily. Weight varies from 2.1 to 2.5, shell’s Thickness reaches up to 1,3 mm The output of the kernel 49-53%, fat 63-67%.

Ghulshishvela

this variety by their taste and organoleptic data is one of the best in Georgia. “Ghulshishvela” widespread in both Western and Eastern Georgia, but the more he got used to the humid subtropical areas. In Guria, Western area distributed to the different varieties of walnut, but, by area “Ghulshishvela” occupies the first place. This grade walnut rapidly growing, Bush round and ramified, breeding begins in 3 years after planting, harvest generous – 1 Bush gives an average of 4.5 to 5 kg of This sort early breed can be harvested from the end of July – beginning of August. The husk of the fetus shorter walnut, on one side it almost to the end of the cut, which is what a large part of the fetus is not closed, why is this nut “Ghulshishvela”. The fruit of the average, Between 18-19-20.

The shell is dark brown, medium thickness of 2.0 mm Weight walnut 2-2,1, Fruit good to fill the shell. The output of the kernel depends on climatic factors and varies between 48 – 52%. Fat fetus 63-67%.

Shveliskhura

mainly distributed in Guria, in areas Ozurgeti, Lanchkhuti, but in Western area it occupies a dominant role. In Megrelia it takes the second place and widely distributed in Western area, where it is called “Skveri”. Breeding begins in 3 years after planting. Harvest in Western Georgia ripen in mid-July, and in the conditions of Kartli (Eastern Georgia) later on 15 – 20 days. Variety of nuts is characterized by a rich harvest, the average yield per 1 Bush is 5-10 kg Husk longer walnut and wrinkled, it is easily removed from the fruit, the fruit of a round and a little , the basis of the flat, brown, from the base to the top of the marked strip thickness of 1 mm Fruit is always fills the shell. Average weight of fruit is 1.5, the Output of the kernel 49-52%, fat content more than 63%.

Homeland of hazelnut varieties Dedoplis titi is considered to be the ancient Colchis where they spread in Abkhazia, in Eastern Georgia, Crimea and in the area of Adler. In Ozurgeti area called nuts Akaki. Stem nut average and growing smoothly, less branched. In Western Georgia Matures 15 – 20 July and Eastern 5-10 August. 1 Bush gives an average of 4 – 4,5 kg of crop. Husks nut 1.5 times more fruit and has the shape of a heart. The fruit has a shape of a cylinder and larger than the average size, the caliber of 15-25. Shell’s thickness 0.8 mm, output kernel 52 – 53%. Taste like almonds, fat 68 – 70%.

Tskhenis Dzudzu

this variety, it is distributed throughout Megrelia, as well as in Ozurgeti, Chokhatauri Lanchkhumiregions of Western Georgia. This sort of positive effect humid subtropical climate. With regard to the Eastern part of Georgia, this variety is distributed in Gori, Mtskheta and Lagodekhi. In Western Georgia, it ripens in the middle of July, in the Eastern part in the middle of August. The husk of the same size, and the fruit itself, or slightly less. Reaching maturity, the shuck is easy to get away with nut. The form of the fetal long at the base of the little wide, is characterized by reddish-brown tint. The hazelnut has a size 16 to 24, weight 2,2 – 2,5 gr. Heartwood is yellow, fills the shell, the thickness of which amounts to 0.9 mm Output kernel 54 – 56%, fat content of 63 – 65%.

Khachapura

this variety spoken in regions of Guria, Adjara, Samegrelo and Lagodekhi. Husk-piece, size 2 times higher and ripeness is easily removed. The weight of the same walnut 2,0 – 2,5 was beautiful, flat shape and eye-catching color, broad-based, eggshell thin and dark brown. Ripens in the middle of July. In highland conditions 1 Bush gives 5,0 – 5,5 kg Output kernel 46 – 48%, fat 65-68%.

Nemsa

distributed mainly in Guria (Ozurgeti), in Megrelia and in Lagodekhi. Ripens in the middle of August. Husks nut whole, in ripeness well removed, the fruit of the longer form the basis of wide, yellowish, eggshell thin, 0,6 – 0,8 mm Output kernel 50 – 52%, fat 68 – 70%.

Processing of hazelnuts

Technical development is a key factor of labor efficiency and productivity. Small farmers in Georgia have generally no or very little mechanization, which is outmoded. Collection is usually done manually.

After being collected from the fields, hazelnuts are laid in 10-15cm thickness to be pre-dried under the sun until their leaves turn brown.

After drying, hazelnuts are separated from their leaves manually or by using harvesting machine (thresher or husker) and laid over canopies in thin layers to be dried under the sun. The total period of drying, including the pre-drying, can be a maximum of 15-20 days depending on the weather conditions (FTG, 2012).

Many processing factories then have dryers, separators, sellers and sorting lines. The bigger factories also use vacuum-packing equipment, cardboard packaging etc. After drying, the hazelnuts are moved in to a vacuum based gravity separator that removes the rest of the husk material, broken shells and other unsuitable material. From here, hazelnuts are transferred to the sorter which helps to separate them according to size categories. This allows the cracker to be set to the specific size of hazelnuts for more uniform cracking. In the cracker, about 70% of hazelnut shells are broken on the first

pass.

Then hazelnuts are moved back into a separator to remove the whole nut kernels from the shell material. The cracking process is repeated several times. Lastly, azelnuts go for hand sorting to remove, by hand, unwanted kernels and any shell material or whole nuts.

Harvest

Nuts from hybrid and American hazelnut shrubs generally do not fall free from the husk like they do from European hazelnuts.  Thus, the clusters need to be picked from the bush.  At this stage most growers in the Upper Midwest have small plantings and do the harvesting by hand.  Based on our time trials in the Bayfield planting, we estimate hand harvesting can be done at a rate of 13 lbs in-shell nuts per hour.  Ultimately, harvesting will be mechanized and some larger growers have been using a blueberry harvester that travels over the row and uses sway bars to detach the clusters from the shrub.  Our Research Team is currently looking for funding to optimize aronia harvesting equipment for shrub-type hazelnuts.

De-Husking

Because the nuts do not fall free from the husk from hybrid or American hazelnuts, they must be mechanically removed from the husk.  The longer they can hang on the bush to dry the better, but because wildlife love to eat hazelnuts, most growers will pick as soon as the nuts have abscised and are loose in the husk.  This means the husks are still green when picked.  Although there is equipment to remove the husks when green most growers are drying the in-husk nuts and using beaters of some kind to remove the dried husk from the in-shell nuts.   Eventually, the goal is to incorporate removal of green husks into harvesting equipment so de-husking can happen in the field as part of the harvest process.

In-Shell Cleaning and Sorting

After de-husking, the in-shell nuts may require additional drying and sanitizing to ensure viable storage.  Nuts with husk still attached (stick-ons) must also be removed.  Once cleaned, the nuts are then separated into size classes using a roller-sizer or barrel-sizer.  De-husking, cleaning, and size-sorting in-shell hazelnuts is considered part of the harvest process and no food processing license or inspected facility is necessary.  The in-shell nuts may be sold directly to consumers or wholesale to retailers.

Cracking

In-shell nuts can be stored for more than a year and cracked as needed.  Cracking is done in two ways: compression cracking with the nut squeezed until the shell cracks or impact cracking with the nut thrown against a hard surface to crack the shell.  The cracking process produces a mix of whole kernels, split kernels, half-cracked nuts, and shell fragments.  The goal is to maximize whole kernel crack-out as separation of split kernels from shell fragments is challenging.

Post-Crack Cleaning

The goal of post-crack cleaning is to separate the whole and split kernels from the shell fragments, uncracked, and half-cracked hazelnuts with as little labor as possible.  There are many different ways to accomplish this, but the process typically includes mechanical sorting and aspiration.  The video at right shows a vibratory feeder dropping in-shell nuts into a compression cracker and the post-crack mix being passed under vacuum aspiration to remove the shell fragments.

Hazelnut Processing Licenses/Permits

Hazelnut processing regulations vary by state.  Before selling hazelnut kernels or food products made with hazelnuts always contact your state’s Department of Agriculture to determine exactly what licenses or permits may be necessary.  Regardless of required licenses food safety should always be a priority.

There are examples in all nut industries of consumers getting sick from eating nuts contaminated with food borne pathogens.  A HACCP plan (Hazard and Critical Control Point) for your nut processing is always a good idea.  In Wisconsin, in-shell nuts can be cleaned, sorted, and sold direct or wholesale without a license.  Cracking and cleaning are considered food processing and selling kernels therefore requires a food processing plant license.  Obtaining that license requires conducting the cracking in a facility and with equipment that meets WI food code.

 

 

 

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