The Deconnick family started their farming operation in 1953 in the French Prairie region South of St Paul, Oregon. Their farm in the early days mainly consisted of Kentucky bluegrass and wheat. As the years went on, they moved to perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, bentgrass, as well as clover. In 2009 they started planting hazelnuts and currently have 250 acres planted. The oldest plantings were all double density Jefferson variety plantings.
The family is very involved in the whole process from planting the trees to harvest, with all members of the family on deck when fall rains threaten production. They were early adopters of subsurface drip line which is also used for in-line fertigation. They are innovators also on the equipment side with custom Weisner harvesters as well as custom nut carts that can be used for spraying and other tasks.
As more acres came into production, they moved away from boxes to bulk harvest and delivery. They noticed they were able to drop off at the receiving station and go get another bulk load from their farm before other growers with boxes had finished unloading their first truck. In every aspect of the business, they look for extra value. This is true of straw export from their grass fields, and it is true of hazelnuts as well. As a long-term member of the Coop, they like the direction and focus on value-added sales and return to growers. They also mentioned the value going forward of the food safety focus of HGO when it comes to domestic sales. Tony Cuff, the next generation on the farm, said that “the consumer these days wants to know the grower and processor, and they want to know that the crop will be handled safely.”
This is the first in our Grower Spotlight series where we bring you stories and profiles of growers we work closely with. If you want to nominate a grower or tell us about your own operation, reach out to the grower relations team or customer care.