Lithuanian farmers have increasingly eyed nut-growing as a lucrative crop. Since 2017, nut farming has increased threefold across the country and farmers say they are now ready to compete with imports from Poland and Italy.
Rimas Norus was one of the first Lithuanians to plant a hazelnut grove in the country and is now harvesting around four tons of produce from 500 mature trees in his 20-hectare estate.
According to Norus, hazelnut growing is not a demanding activity – you only need to plant the seedlings three metres apart from each other, protect them from disease, and prune the trees before spring.
Other Lithuanians are also expanding walnut growing areas. This type of nuts requires more care, but the growers say that the warming climate in Lithuania is becoming more favourable to it.
“There is no difficulty in growing [walnuts]. The fruits fall out of their shelves. We only have to gather and dry them a bit,” said Algirdas Jašinskas, a walnut grower from Marijampolė in southern Lithuania.
The trees start producing nuts four to five years after planting, said Jašinskas, adding that one mature walnut tree can yield up to 100 kilogrammes of fruit.
Covering one hectare of land with nut tree seedlings could cost up to 3,000 euros. But Lithuanian nut growers contacted by LRT TV say that the yield allows them to compete with popular Italian and Polish produce.
In total, there are more than 1,000 nut groves in Lithuania.