Subject: Nutritional composition
BACKGROUND: The aim of this research was to study the variability in kernel composition within the canopy of hazelnut trees. RESULTS: Kernel fresh and dry weight increased linearly with fruit height above the ground. Fat content decreased, while protein and ash content increased, from the bottom to the top layers of the canopy. The level of unsaturation of fatty acids decreased from the bottom to the top of the canopy. Thus, the kernels located in the bottom layers of the canopy appear to be more interesting from a nutritional point of view, but their lipids may be more exposed to oxidation. The content of different phytosterols increased progressively from bottom to top canopy layers. CONCLUSION: Most of these effects correlated with the pattern in light distribution inside the canopy. The results of this study indicate that fruit position within the canopy is an important factor in determining hazelnut kernel growth and composition.