Michigan Nut Producers Industry Research Priorities

Contact Information:
Midwest Nut Producers Council
4975 Grand River Rd.
Owosso, Mich. 48867

Research Priorities

1. An ongoing dialog among growers and the Michigan State University chestnut research team has indicated that even as chestnut trees are increasing in the numbers planted, the number of commercially viable cultivars is too narrow to sustain optimal production. Midwest Nut Producers Council (MNPC) needs assistance with germplasm expansion to increase the number of commercially available varieties through variety trials and production strategies. Potential economic impact is $1 million.

2. MNPC has been aggressive in obtaining grants to develop value-added products using chestnuts. With the last five years of tree plantings beginning to mature, production in each of the next five years is expected to accelerate dramatically. Four grants totaling $326,000 have been obtained from the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development and USDA to further leverage the Project GREEEN investment in developing value-added products. These research investments are well under way. In order to begin to develop markets for these potential products, MNPC needs assistance in developing marketing strategies and markets. Potential economic impact is $4 million.

3. The chestnut industry planted trees based on the sole commercially available cultivar, and the trees have grown well in Michigan, but the pollinators developed in California for this tree have not responded well to Michigan conditions. As these trees mature, the failure of known pollinators has caused the chestnut research team and the industry to look more carefully at having diverse pollinator trees in the orchard from a strictly pragmatic point of view. However, the more important research need is to identify the pollination vector and/or method of pollination so that a more efficient methodology can be developed.

4. Ongoing research with the chestnut peeler has identified many issues with regard to post harvest handling and storage of chestnuts that were previously unknown in the Western Hemisphere. Subsequent work with the microbiologists on the chestnut research team have identified an entire area of research that must be undertaken to be able to deliver a safe, and very high quality peeled chestnut product. The research results must be "backed up" to both cultivation and post harvest handling and storage. Thanks to previous work in this area, the industry has made significant progress in this area. However, refining and the knowledge and practices must be continued so that product loss is greatly diminished before the nuts are peeled. Potential economic impact is $1 million.

Last Updated: October 2011