“Excellent kernel quality is comparable to the best Italian cultivars.” –HortScience article from February 2008
About the Nuts: World Famous Flavor
With Sacajawea, the Oregon State breeding program has released a nut with flavor very similar to the famous Italian varieties. The Italian flavor profile is something that breeders have been working towards throughout the program because many hazelnut buyers want the “Italian” flavored nuts for their products. Processors have started paying premiums for other excellently flavored nuts, such as Lewis, and they have hinted at doing something similar with Sacajawea nuts in the future. Because of its high flavor value, Sacajawea is aimed at serving the blanched kernel market. But, its nuts are large enough to serve the in-shell market as well. The nuts are attractive and have few defects. Sacajawea has also shown an extremely high shell-out rate of 53%. That is higher than any other widely planted cultivar. This high shell-out rate means bigger returns for growers. In fact, in trials Sacajawea showed consistently higher marketable yield than Barcelona in all years compared.
Mature Sacajawea Hazelnut Tree at the OSU test plots in Corvallis
About the Tree
Sacajawea trees are vigorous and upright but more dense than other varieties, like Jefferson. This dense growth habit will require more pruning to open the canopy and allow for adequate light penetration and air circulation. Like many Italian cultivars, Sacajawea has shown itself to have a higher resistance to EFB than other varieties, such as Barcelona. While Sacajawea does not carry the “Gasaway” gene for EFB resistance, it did perform well in outdoor exposure trials at the university. Its resistance currently estimated to be slightly less than McDonald so growers who choose this cultivar will still need to monitor and defend their orchards against Eastern Filbert Blight. Trees also have good resistance to bud mite.
Pollination, Bloom Time and Harvest
Sacajawea has an earlier harvest time than most major varieties, ripening 10-15 earlier than Barcelona. Growers should be able to finish harvesting Sacajawea before harvests of later varieties, like Dorris and and Jefferson begin. This would allow growers to spread their harvest time out and capitalize on the premiums processors typically pay for earlier nuts. Sacajawea’s female bloom time lasts from about mid-December to mid-February and it expresses both alleles 1 and 22 in its flowers. Recommended pollinizers are as follows: York (50%), McDonald (25%) and Gamma (25%). Lewis and Yamhill are also compatible but Yamhill trees might be too short for adequate pollination. Sacajawea has a short but potent pollen shed, peaking the second to third week in January. Only allele 1 is expressed in pollen. It is a good pollinizer for Yamhill.