Chestnuts Australia

Chestnuts (Castanea)

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.

 


Australian Chestnut Industry

Production
In 2009 the area planted in chestnuts was 1,160 ha, producing 1800 tonnes, inshell. The value of the Australian chestnut industry is $11m and export surplus $3m. The Chestnut export industry is currently small with the majority of exports going to asia. Domestic consumption is estimated to be in excess of 1200 tonnes. (Source – Australian Nut Industry Council). For more information on chestnut production and markets see
Chestnut Production, Industry and Markets

Australian chestnuts are not troubled by many of the pests and diseases experienced overseas, and, being close to asia and able to supply fresh chestnuts in the off-season, is a competitive advantage for Australian chestnut growers.

Chestnuts Australia Inc.
Chestnuts Australia is dedicated to the growth of the chestnut industry through grower education, promotion, research and the sharing of information. The association aims to assist members with first hand information on the growing, harvesting and marketing of chestnuts. For a range of information on chestnuts in Australia visit the
Chestnuts Australia website.
Draft Australian Chestnut Industry Strategic Plan 2011 – 2016 (Chestnuts Australia)

Right: Roasted chestnuts for sale in Melbourne.

Top


Publications and Information

Top


Cultivation
Photo: Alpacas and Chestnut treesThe chestnut tree is a medium-sized deciduous tree which grows to 20–35 metres and 6 metres wide. The trunk can measure up to 2 metres in diameter.

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 6×6 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):

Small 20 – 25mm Frequently the sale of the small size is difficult and they are often used as stock feed.
Medium 26 – 29mm
Standard 30 – 32mm
Large 33 – 38mm
Special in excess of 38mm

 

The Chestnuts Australia Inc. site has a range of information on Chestnut Production and Chestnut Propagation.

Chestnuts are also popular as an ornamental in large gardens.

Chestnut Varieties
Castane Sativa (European chestnut) is the most common chestnut grown in Australia. Popular varieties include:

  • Morena
  • Manjimup Mahogany
  • Neil’s Special
  • Autumn Bounty

The sword variety no longer has a market.

Newer easy peeling varieties include:

  • Buffalo Queen
  • Red Spanish
  • Di Coppi Marrone
  • Purton’s Pride
Some of the older varieties producing edible nuts include:

  • American (Sweet) chestnut (Castanea dentata)
  • Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima)
  • Spanish chestnut (Castanea sativa)
  • Japanese chestnut, (Castanea crenata)

Top


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.

Top


Australian Chestnut Tree Nurseries

Top


Australian Chestnut Growers

Top


Australian Chestnut Sales


Festivals

Right: 2010 Wandiligong Nut Festival – Chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and a range of other local produce.

Top

Photo: Wandiligong Nut Festival


Additional Information

Top


Overseas Links

Top