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Chapter 9: Myths of Growing Chestnut Trees

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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Contact Information:

Farm Location:
6160 Everson Goshen Rd
Everson, WA 98247
Phone: (360) 592-3397

Business Offices:
Washington Chestnut Company
6160 Everson Goshen Rd.
Everson, WA 98247
Phone: (360) 592-3397