Thank you for the article about Mountain Hazelnuts (MH). At present more than ten thousand orchards have been planted across the nation in a joint investment between farmers, communities, and the Company. While there are many encouraging developments, some of the orchards are slow to fruit for a variety of normal biological reasons. MH is addressing these challenges and is optimistic of positive results.
It is important to remember that the average age of the hazelnut trees in our orchards is three years and it is impossible for there to be any ten year old trees as reported, as that was before Mountain Hazelnuts was incorporated. As such, most of the orchards are young and are still maturing.
For those orchards that are experiencing a delay in fruiting, the primary cause is a shortage of pollenizer trees. Pollination is essential for hazelnut trees to produce nuts. Due to production difficulties in the early years of operations, there are a smaller number of mature pollinizer trees than is optimal. In addition, varying conditions across Bhutan have impacted the timing of pollen shed and flower receptivity.
This pollination challenge is not unique to Bhutan and will be solved here as it has been elsewhere. Other major hazelnut projects have faced the same pollination challenge and used similar measures to match the timing (including in Australia, Chile, and Georgia). In all cases, these efforts have succeeded.
In early 2019, Mountain Hazelnuts, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, will supply to hazelnut growers experiencing pollen shortages scion wood from new pollinizer varieties to be grafted directly into orchards. This is the fastest way to get mature pollinizers into orchards and it is a well proven method. MH field extension teams will provide hands-on technical support to ensure its success. By 2021, we anticipate pollinizers will have caught up sufficiently to produce large commercial harvests.
We greatly value and respect our farmer partners who commit time and hard work into their hazelnut orchards. MH’s teams are working tirelessly to provide support and to rectify the pollenizer presence in the orchards where needed. Where orchards have the right amount of pollenizers and varieties, high quality hazelnuts have been produced.
Again, we thank you for the article and hope that this letter answers some of the questions raised.
Mountain Hazelnut Venture Private Limited