When weighed in one analysis, about 47 percent of the nut's total weight was from its kernel, about the same as Yamhill and higher than Barcelona's 43 percent. In another trial, however, Wepster came in at 44 percent compared with Yamhill's 46 percent. Mehlenbacher noted that in 2011, when hazelnut trees were heavily loaded with nuts, Yamhill's shells didn't have much kernel in them, making them unmarketable. In contrast, Wepster's kernels sufficiently filled up the shells that year.

Wepster also beats out Yamhill in another area, Mehlenbacher said. During blanching, only half of Yamhill's inner skin, or pellicle, comes off. In contrast, Wepster's moderately fibrous inside layer is easily removed from the kernels with dry heat.

Given that hazelnut trees can't be pollinated by ones that are genetically identical, recommended pollinizers for Webster are OSU's York, Gamma and the university's yet-to-be-released selection known as OSU 880.027.

Oregon orchardists sold $44 million of hazelnuts in 2011, making the nut the state's 24th most important agricultural commodity, according to a report by the OSU Extension Service. Also known as a filbert, the hazelnut is Oregon's official nut.