Some of these myths can be addressed in simple terms backed by research
conducted at University research facilities around the world and casual
research conducted within the United States of America.
Myth #1 - Chestnut orchards can product 6000 lbs per acre - casual research
indicates the best producing orchards in North America produce between 2200
to 5500 lbs per acre. This top number of 5500 was achieved by a grower
in MI in 2016.
Myth #2 - Chinese chestnut trees out produce European - casual research
indicates the best producing Chinese chestnut tree orchards east of the Rocky
Mountains produce about 1200 lbs per acre. Many orchards of European hybrid
chestnut trees produce over 2000 lbs per acre.
Myth #3 -
Chestnut producers make $6.75/lbs (2018 retail pricing) - casual
research demonstrates only producers selling directly to consumers are
receiving $6.75/lb. Many orchards selling to retail stores are
receiving between $1.50 - $3.75 per pound. The pricing presented here
is know in accounting as gross revenue. When a producer actually
makes money it is after all other expenses are paid. Many orchards are
operated on the owners land where they live. If they had to repay land
loans with interest for the land the trees are grown on then few if any
would actually make money. A local potato producer makes lots of money
on the many acres they farm. Almost all the land they farm is rented on
an annual basis for between $200-$350 per acre. The rent is far below
the actual cost of owning the land.
Myth #4 - Chestnut trees have few pests - Like most crops the first
few years the pests that harm chestnut trees and the nuts they product
are few in number, so little harm is done. As the pests increase in
number the harm increases until the orchard can no longer produce
commercial quality nuts. The three pests causing the most problems for
chestnut growers are, gall wasps, chestnut blight, and phytophthora.
Myth #5 - Roasted chestnuts are an American tradition - Roasted chestnuts
have been a part of both European and Asian diets for over 3000 years.
The Romans helped establish the first chestnut groves in Europe.
American tradition of using American chestnuts for providing culinary
delight dates back before the arrival of the first Europeans.
Now that the myths are addressed lets look at some suggestions. There are
two very important suggestions. The first and most important is do not
try to grow chestnut trees in clay soils. One of the United States
leading experts in chestnut tree management says "Chestnut trees do not
grow in clay soil". We attempted to place several chestnut trees in
what would be considered a clay based soil. The results were all the
same, the trees died. The other very important suggestion is to find
the best producing variety for your conditions. The experts say its important to
establish your orchard with grafted trees. The bottom line is no
matter what the experts say, local conditions always take presidence
over what the university research farms advise.
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