6 September 2000
Red squirrels choose English cobnuts

By FWi staff

GROWERS of traditional English hazelnuts have cracked one of the most discerning markets for nuts — the native red squirrel population.

English growers have doubled their harvest this year to the greatest since the mid 1960s, reports the National Farmers Union.

Part of the bumper crop will provide a treat for red squirrels which have a particular taste for fresh home-grown nuts over dried imports.

Up to 15 tonnes of fresh hazelnuts — some 6 million nuts — will be transported from the south of England to red squirrel reserves and estates in the north of England and Scotland.

Cobnuts are marketed fresh, not dried like most other nuts, with a green husk and a white crunchy kernel.

John Cannon, Chairman of the Kentish Cobnuts Association, will sell some of his own crop to suppliers for individuals and organisations keen to conserve red squirrels.

He said: “Red squirrels certainly have good taste — fresh English nuts are a hand-picked delicacy which are often eaten with port and cheese.

“Were told that red squirrels prefer fresh English hazelnuts hands down over the dried nuts imported from countries like Turkey, Italy and France.

It is estimated that there is a red squirrel population of 161,000 in Britain compared with 2.5 million North American grey squirrels.