Rutgers University initiated hazelnut research and breeding program in 1996 to address the fatal tree disease eastern filbert blight (EFB) caused by the naturally occurring fungus, Anisogramma anomala.
Rutgers made large seed collections across Eastern
Europe, the Caucuses, and Central Asia to cross and breed the collected trees for eastern US trials. The program spans over 25 years as of 2022, and Rutgers now has 25,000 trees on 20 acres in various stages of evaluation. The result of a cross of Oregon State University selection OSU 665.123 x ‘Ratoli’, ‘Somerset’ is a high yielding tree with small to medium size, round kernels with adequate blanching after roasting, making it well suited for the kernel market. Most kernels are 12–13 mm in diameter with an average weight of 1.14 grams and 55% kernel by weight. It has notably thin shells and tends to produce good crops even on young trees. ‘Somerset’ is a compact tree with a slightly spreading growth habit. It carries an EFB resistance gene from the Spanish cultivar ‘Ratoli’ and has been shown to get no EFB in New Jersey. ‘Somerset’ has S-alleles 3 and 10 with S3 expressed in the pollen, and blooms in early to mid-season in New Jersey. ‘Monmouth’ (S1S12), ‘OSU 541.147’ (S8 S23), ‘Slate’ (NY616) (S1S23), ‘Gene’ (NY398) (S15S23), and ‘Grand Traverse (S11S25) are compatible pollinizer partners. Nuts typically drop the first to second week in September.
- Nuts and foods
- Bakery and confections
- EFB Disease Resistance
- Commercially attractive and competitive yields
- Required nut characteristics
Intellectual Property & Development Status: Issued patent: US PP32,494 P2. Available for licensing and/or research collaboration.
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