The chestnut pages on this site include listings of chestnut nurseries, growers, sales as well as industry overviews, propagation information, chestnut products and a range of other chestnut related information.
Chestnuts are grown throughout Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. Around 90% of Australian chestnuts are grown in north-eastern Victoria in the Bright, Wandiligong, Mt Beauty, Myrtleford, Porepunkah region. There are also chestnut plantings in the Adelaide Hills area of South Australia. in southern Queensland and the south-west of Western Australia.
Originally from Asia Minor, chestnuts have been grown in Asia and Southern Europe for millennia. In the northern hemisphere chestnuts are harvested from October through to March. In Australia the prime months for fresh chestnuts are mid March, April, May and June, creating a fresh chestnut export opportunity.
Chestnuts Australia Inc.
Right: Roasted chestnuts for sale in Melbourne.
Chestnuts begin to be harvested around 7 years after the planting of an advanced seedling. Full potential is realized in around 10 years. Grafted trees usually provide an economic return after around 4 years. Chestnuts prefer acid soils and should be grown on slopes as they prefer well drained soils.
Minimum spacing for chestnut trees is 6x6 m depending on variety a wider spacing may be required. Generally 3 varieties are planted and separate harvesting for each variety is undertaken.
The chestnut tree bears both male and female flowers in upright catkins, the male flowers in the upper part and female flowers in the lower part. In autumn, the female flowers develop into prickly burrs containing the nuts. The burrs split freeing the chestnuts to fall to the ground. Later in the season the burrs fall to the ground coataining the nuts. Heavy duty gloves, such as pigskin,should be used if the burrs are to be picked up by hand as they are very prickly.
Late March, April and May marks the chestnut season. Chestnuts should be collected from the ground quickly and kept cold to prolong their shelf life. It is estimated that each day they lay on the ground reduces shelf life by one week. This time is affected by chestnut variety and weather conditions. First harvested chestnuts fall free, later the burr drops and chestnuts need to be extracted from the prickly casing.
Right: Alpacas and chestnut trees at the foot of Mt Buffalo - Robinsons Chestnuts.
Mature trees (30 + yeras) can yield over 100 kg of nuts per year and oldr very large trees are recorded as yielding double this figure. Some varieties of chestnut produce larger crops on alternate years and adequate rainfall/irrigation also affects crop size.
Most large chestnut growers clean, grade and prepare their chestnuts for sale. There are five industry recognised sizes (by diameter):
Chestnuts are also popular as an ornamental in large gardens.
Castane Sativa (European chestnut) is the most common chestnut grown in Australia. Popular varieties include:
|Newer easy peeling varieties include:
||Some of the older varieties producing edible nuts include:
Health, Nutrition and Storage of Chestnuts
Chestnuts are roasted in a microwave, oven or on an open fire. They are also used in recipes. Chestnuts are a tasty, high energy low fat, addition to the diet. They are low in Glycaemic Index (GI) carbohydrates. See the Chestnuts - Health and Nutrition page for more details.
For domestic use shelled and cooked chestnuts should be covered, refrigerated, and used within three to four days. Cooked chestnuts, either whole, chopped, or pureed, may be frozen in an airtight container and held up to 9 months. Many producers maintain cool storage for chestnuts, around 2°C and very limited air exposure, for ongoing supply off season.
See the New Zealand "Chestnutz" site for good information on the handling and storage of chestnuts.
Right: 2010 Wandiligong Nut Festival - Chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and a range of other local produce.