Chestnut Trees and Chestnuts
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Chestnut Tree Cultivars

When looking for chestnut tree cultivars for planting in the USA you will need first to look at your motives. Why plant a tree that will not produce any nuts for at least 3 years? If chestnuts are part of your diet/meals then you already know not all chestnuts are equal in texture, sweetness, and flavors. In the grocery store, chestnuts are rarely as fresh as most other in season fruits and vegetables. To get chestnuts that are as fresh as can be, then there is no second to either growing your own or purchacing the chestnuts from a local farm.

Aside from taste some of the other factors that influence the purchasing decision for chestnuts are:
1. When do the chestnuts fall from the tree (early, mid, or late season)
2. Do the chestnuts fall free from the burr
3. Do the trees grow well in cool or hot areas
4. How much water do they need in the summer
5. How big are the nuts
6. Does the pellicle easily separate from the nut kernel
7. How much nuts do the trees produce when they are full size
8. What chestnut trees handle late frosts the best

As you can see there are a lot of things to consider when purchasing chestnut trees. This short cultivar guide for the North America should help. This guide starts with what almost all chestnut trees need and do. We will call this the normal stuff. Once past the normal stuff discussion, each cultivar will be presented and anything that is not normal about it will be presented. Take your time and let all this information sink in before making a purchase.

The Normal Chestnut Tree in North America

Most chestnut trees grown in North America are either a European, a European crossed with Japanese hybrids, or Chinese. The ExJ hybrids produce the largest nuts and the most nuts per area of tree cover. More and bigger, this is a good thing if you are preparing them. The European chestnut trees as well as the American chestnut trees are vulnerable to chestnut blight to varing degrees, from suseptable to highly resistant. Once exposed to blight, the suseptable trees will die in a few years. West of the Rockie Mountians chestnut blight is not present because it likes warm humid summers. For most areas in the west of the Rockies neither of these happens enough to give chestnut blight a chance.

Chestnut trees can grow fast and tall if the conditions are right. Normally, chestnut trees can grow up to 4 feet or more in a single year. On our farm we had a tree grow over 6 feet in a single growing season. This quick growth is mostly in the early years. Once the chestnut tree gets large, growth slows to where 18 inches of new growth in a single growing season is a at the top end of the normal range. Chestnut trees can grow up to 80 feet. The more European the chestnut tree the taller it will be with the exception of the American chestnut tree. For Japanese chestnut trees the normal height will be somewhere between around 40 feet tall. Chestnut trees can live for over 1000 years.

Most ExJ and European chestnut trees will mature their chestnuts in most locations south of the 49th parallel. When it comes to harvesting a crop of chestnuts the prior growing season usually has more effect on the crop size and nut quality than the current growing season. The big exception to this is the daytime high temps during the pollination period and rain washing away the pollen. If the temps are below 60 degrees F then nut set will be poor at best. Late in the season the amount of available water in the soil will also influence nut size since chestnuts put on most of their weight in the last 4 weeks of the growing season. Nut size can rage from about 3/4 of an inch to over 3 inches per chestnut. In the Pacific Northwest a small chestnut is 1 inch or less. A medium chestnut is between the 1 inch and 1 1/4 inches. Large chestnuts are bigger than the 1 1/4 inches. Most of the chestnuts harvested from the ExJ will be larger (80% or more) than 1 1/8 inches.

That should be enough for the normal stuff. Lets move on to looking at the specific chestnut cultivars.

American Chestnut Trees (c. dentata)
Not all the American Chestnut trees died from the chestnut blight. In the Pacific Northwest American chestnut trees continue to grow and produce nuts. Growing American chestnut trees is an option in the Pacific West States. Given enough growing area and the American chestnut tree can extend out 20 or more feet from the center and reach a height of over 80 feet. The nuts are small or even smaller than small by our standards and not as sweet as some of the best European chestnuts. Nut fall is late season. The American chestnut tree can be used as a pollinator for any other chestnut trees and their hybrids.

Belle Epine Chestnut Tree (E)
Belle Epine is a French cultivar of pure European ancensitory. It is a good pollen producer. Does well even in the cool summers. Partially self fertile and is used as a pollinator for other late chestnuts such as Marival and Marigoule. This is the last cultivar to drop its nuts. Nut size is large. Produces nuts in the 3rd or 4th year after the grafted tree is transplanted. Nuts are a pretty mahogany color. Full details and pictures: Belle Epine Chestnut Tree information

Bisalta #2 Chestnut Tree (ExJ)
The Bisalta #2 is a consistant producer of chestnuts without the issues of over producing to the point the branches break (a possible weakness of the Bisalta #3 Chestnut Tree). Nut size is large. Nuts fall free of the burr and fall mid season. The nuts are easy to peel. The tree has a spreading growth form. Medium production level. Originally from Italy.

Bisalta #3 Chestnut Tree (ExJ)
The Bisalta #3 is a consistant producer of chestnuts. Even when a cold growing season occurs this tree still produces nuts. Nut size is medium to large. Nuts fall free of the burr and fall mid season. The nuts are easy to peel. Some locals say this is our best tasting chestnut (the experts say is has good flavor). The tree has a spreading growth form. Medium to high production level. Originally from Italy. Full details and pictures: Bisalta #3 Chestnut Tree Information

Bouche de Betizac Chestnut Tree (ExJ)
Bouche de Betizac is a very upright growing tree, so much so it is hard to get it to extend out its branches. The burrs almost always produce 3 nuts of large size but the middle nut is flat on both sides. The nuts fall free of the burr early to mid season. Bouche de Betizac is a hybrid of the Bouche Rouge and Japanese. Production levels are very good. Like the Basalta #3 it will produce a crop of nuts even in cool growing seasons. Nuts store well when stored properly (up to 4 weeks when stored in a refrigerator). This tree can grow 5 ft or more in a single growing season. Bouche de Betizac does not produce pollen. If you want nuts from this cultivar you will need a good pollinator such as Belle Epine, Precoce Migoule, or Marival. Blight tolerant. Winter cold to -30F. Full details and pictures: Bouche de Betizac Chestnut Tree Information

Colossal Chestnut Tree (ExJ)
For almost all commercial chestnut growers on the Pacific Coast the Colossal chestnut tree produces the largest nuts, the most nuts, and starting at a young age (sometimes as soon as the 2nd year after transplanting a grafted tree). The tree is more spreading, following the Japanese heritage. The wood is somewhat weak causing heavily loaded branches to break under the load. Nuts usually fall free of the burrs. Nut fall is early. Late spring frosts can be an issue with burning the early leafs/buds. Most other charististics of this tree follow the normal description for chestnuts. The Colossal chestnut tree is pollen steril. Winter cold to -20F. Blight susceptible. Full details and pictures: Colossal Chestnut Tree Information

Marrone di Chiusa Pesio Chestnut Tree (E)
An Italian cultivar that is pollen sterile. So far this has been the most difficult European chestnut tree to propagate.

Marrone di Marradi Chestnut Tree (E)
Pollen producer - large chestnut from Italy - Many sources discussing various chestnut cultivars mention Marrone di Marradi as one of the best chestnuts. Its superior flavor, sweetness, and easy pealing are its best attributes. The tree requires a little more upkeep as compared to some of the hybrids and the yield per tree is lower than many hybrids. Blight susceptible.

Marrone di Comballe Chestnut Tree (E)
An Italian cultivar that is pollen sterile. Produces a high quality chestnut falling mid - late season. For a European chestnut tree, this tree is a little more spreading than most others with about average annual growth. Does not produce pollen. Blight susceptible.

Marrone di Susa Chestnut Tree (E)
Marrone di Susa is a truely Italian chestnut we can grow here in the cooler areas of the Pacific Northwest. Its best qualities are is its easy peeling, good storage life, and is very good for confectionery uses. It takes 3 - 4 years from grafting to produce nuts. The nuts are large, fall in the burr, and nut fall is late season. Roots are not tollerant to wet or heavy soils. The Itialians prize this as one of their best. This cultivar does not produce pollen so to produce nuts a pollinator is required. Full details and pictures: Marrone di Susa Chestnut Tree Information

Marigoule Chestnut Tree (ExJ)
The hybrid comes to us from France. Nut fall is mid season and fall in the burr. The tree wants to grow more upright than most ExJ hybrids. Nut size is medium to large. It is know for its resistance to root rot. The nuts are easy to peel once the have cured for a few days. This tree is a little slow growing compared to other ExJ hybrids. Fruiting can take 4 -5 years and production is medium. Once cured for a few days this chestnut can be as sweet as candy. This cultivar can be a pollinator for most of the pollen sterile chestnut trees such as Colossal, Bouch de Betizac, and Marrone. Blight tolarent. Winter cold resistant to -30F. Resistant to root rot. Full details and pictures: Marigoule Chestnut Tree Information

Marsol Chestnut Tree (ExJ)
Marsol chestnut trees are resistant to root rot (inking) so it makes a good root stock for some other cultivars. Nuts are large to very large but in cooler areas the nuts are not as big as they would be if grown in the central valley of California. A very good pollinator. Tree grows very upright. This tree buds out early, so spring frosts might be an issue if your trees are in a cold pocket. Nuts fall free of the burr mid season. This is another cultivar said to be of good flavor. The cultivar originated from France. Blight tolarent. Winter cold resistant to -30F.

Maraval Chestnut Tree (ExJ)
This cultivar comes to us from France. It produces large red mohagony nuts that fall free from the burr mid to late season. The nuts store better than many of the other ExJ hybrids. The Maraval chestnut trees produces most of its leaves at the end of the branches. Production is medium. The real gift of this tree has to be the amount of pollen it produces for the chestnut orchard. One of these trees can provide pollen for trees over 150 feet away. The male flowers are the most beautiful flowers of all the chestnuts we grow. It is also known for its resistance to root rot. The tree wants to grow upright like most other European chestnut trees. Blight tolerant. Winter cold resistant to -30F. Full details and pictures: Maraval Chestnut Tree Information

Okie Chestnut Tree
This chestnut tree produces the largest chestnuts on our farm. It is a good pollinator for a small orchard. The nuts have a tendency to crack and may not store well. This cultivar is a cross between a chinquapin and Japanese chestnut tree. So far this tree has not done very well in the cooler areas of the Pacific Northwest. Summers where the daytime high temps are 80 or more very day would be better for it. The nuts fall free of the butt mid to late season. If you need the biggest nuts to win the local fair for large chestnuts then this is the chestnut tree for you. Full details and pictures: Okie Chestnut Tree Information

Precoce Migoule Chestnut Tree (ExJ)
Precoce Migoule chestnut trees are the first to drop the chestnuts at the start of the season. The nuts are large and fall free of the burr. This is one of the best pollen producers in our orchard along with Marival. Consumer taste testing of roasted chestnuts rank this cultivar at the top. The nuts are sweet and peel easily. Chestnut production starts in 4-5 years after grafting. This cultivar is from France. The growth habit is more upright than Colossal and is a vigorous tree growing 3 or more feet in a season if the conditions are right (even in cool seasons). For the chestnut grower in the Pacific Northwest this tree is a must have for its pollen production and the quality of chestnuts. Blight susceptible. Winter cold tolerant to -30F. Precoce Migoule Chestnut Tree Information

Regina Montis Chestnut Tree (ExJ)
Regina Montis chestnut trees are a new chestnut cultivar from our own propagation program. The Latin name translates to Queen of the Mountains. It surely is a queen when it comes to the quality of chestnuts it produces and its growth vigor. We started this tree as a seedling in 2006 and by the fall of 2008 it produced its first chestnuts. By 2009 it was producing a lot of medium sized (between 1.125 and 1.5 inches across) that were the best tasting in the entire orchard of several hundred trees. By 2010 it had reached a height of 18 feet and it is well balanced between height and width. Aside from just being such a great tasting chestnut it also peels easily and will get almost as sweet as candy. All of these great traits is what gives this chestnut tree its name. A good pollinator. Winter cold tolerant to -20F. Regina Montis Chestnut Tree Information

Regis Montis Chestnut Tree (ExJ)
Regis Montis chestnut trees are a new chestnut cultivar from our own propagation program. The Latin name translates to King of the Mountains. It is the king because of how fast it grows and how upright the tree is. Like Regina Montis the quality of chestnuts it produces is just about as good as it gets in hybrid trees. The original seedling was planted in 2006 in our orchard of several hundred trees. By the fall of 2008 it produced its first chestnuts and they were so good we never sold any of these nuts, we only shared them with close friends and family. The following year it produced so many nuts that our friends thought we were being too generous with the gifts of fresh chestnuts. The nut is medium sized (between 1.125 and 1.5 inches across) and falls free of the burr. In the year of 2010 at the age of 5 years old it had reached a height of 21 feet with height being favored over width. The King of the Mountains chestnut also peels easily and develops a wonderful sweetness. Now you know why we gave this chestnut cultivar the name Regis Montis, it really is a king of chestnut quality. A good pollenator. Winter cold tolerant to -30F.

Chinese Chestnut Trees (c. mollissima)
Chinese chestnut trees do best in states receiving nice warm summers. The chestnut trees that are hybrids with the chinese chestnut tree also fall into this group. Cultivars of the mollissima group need warm summers found in the midwest and southern USA. If you live in a area in the Pacific Northwest where you do have very warm summers then mollissima could be considered. Mollissima normally do not produce as many pounds of nuts per area as the European or the Japanese chestnut trees. Most of the mollissima chestnuts peel easily. Many of the mollissima and their hybrids are chestnut blight resistant. Winter cold tolerant to -20F.



 
 
Contact Information:

Farm Location:
6160 Everson Goshen Rd
Everson, WA 98247
Ph: (360) 966-7158
Fax: (360) 966-7994
Email: chestnuts.wa@gmail.com


Business Offices:
Washington Chestnut Company
6160 Everson Goshen Rd.
Everson, WA 98247
Ph: (360) 966-7158