Squirrels Eating My Filberts

Q. About 4 years ago I planted 13 filbert trees in my yard.  This year there looked to be a fair amount of nuts when I left for vacation in mid August.    By the time I returned, squirrels had gotten every single nut.  Is there some way of getting some nuts for myself?  Something that scares squirrels away?  How do professional hazelnut growers get any nuts? Philip Peterson – Puyallup, WA

A. I am going to guess that you are having problems with the infamous gray squirrels.  Of the animals that had to be imported from back east why couldn’t they have brought one I really miss like the cardinal. Well they are here now and we must deal with their periodic garden and bird feeder raids. They don’t even seem to want to share when it comes to nuts.  It is not as easy as wrapping the tree in bird netting since the squirrels can chew their way through this plastic (I guess that is why it isn’t called bird & squirrel netting). The Northern Nut Association describes squirrels as “a constant nuisance” in their online FAQ page but they don’t mention how they control them. I don’t personally know any hazelnut/filbert (Corylus) growers so I am not sure when they decide the loss due to squirrel feeding requires control. My suspicion is they would exclude them from getting into the trees using a metal baffle (a cone with the wide opening facing down) on the tree trunk and limbing up the tree (removing lower branches) to avoid the vertical squirrel jump.  Baffles work better on larger trees where the baffle can be at least a foot or two up the trunk. They may also exclude them from orchards using an electrified fence. 

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