Michigan Chestnut Industry Research Priorities
Midwest Chestnut Producers Council - Nonprofit for chestnut research and teaching
Josh Springer, Ph.D.
- Support research to address emerging chestnut pest issues through continued partnership with
Michigan State University, MSU Extension, Michigan Department of Agriculture, and other relevant
industry partners. Current areas of concern include Asian Chestnut Gall Wasp (ACGW), chestnut
weevil, and pre/post-harvest nut rots. These problems have come to Michigan and must be well
managed to allow sustained and increased profitability of the chestnut industry.
- Develop a chestnut orchard curriculum to support new and experienced growers. Very few new
chestnut growers come to the industry with past orchard or horticultural experience, and this can
impair productivity and efficiency in their orchards.
- Improve chestnut crop estimating and market projection data to optimize industry scaling for
processing and marketing. No benchmark data exists for yield estimation or projection and at the
current time, chestnuts have tended to bear larger yields every other year. Pollination is subject to
weather conditions and other unknowns that substantially impair our ability to plan for harvest,
processing, and marketing. Determining the variables of pollination and managing them will allow
for better planning.
- Determine optimal nutrient and moisture needs for chestnut production in Michigan. We simply do
not know what specific requirements are for chestnut other than anecdotal information. For
instance, the industry has been operating on the recommendation of a former forestry consultant
who tested a fertilizer formulation in his own orchard. There has been no corroboration of these
recommendations with professionally conducted research.
- Improve chestnut harvester technology, particularly for small to mid-scale growers with emphasis
on affordability and efficiency. In general, Chestnut growers are not closely co-located, so an on
farm harvester matched to the specific needs of small to mid-scale growers is essential. Growers
with large, expanding acreages will have the ability to purchase available machinery from Europe
while smaller scale growers need cheaper and still efficient options.
- Improve knowledge of market-based information, including consumer preferences, potential for
diversification and value-added products, branding, and promotion; likely in collaboration with the
growers cooperative, Chestnut Growers, Inc. Due to work done previously on chestnut promotion,
Americans have become minimally aware of chestnuts. Research has shown that as Americans
become more aware of American-grown chestnuts, they replace European-grown and Asian-grown
imports, pound for pound. Given the volume of chestnut imports, chestnut promotion is crucial,
and profitable given that our industry will grow substantially in the next decade and longer.
Last Updated: October 2018