Assistant Research Professor


Senior Research Specialist


Senior Research Specialist


About Chestnuts

Chestnuts for nut production are a promising tree nut crop across the eastern half of the United States, where demand exceeds supply. In today’s market, chestnuts are mainly grown, sold, and consumed locally fresh in-shell. There is significant opportunity to grow the fresh and processed markets, including dried chestnut flour, peeled frozen chestnuts, and prepared packaged chestnuts.

Chestnuts are a healthy, low-fat, gluten-free food ingredient, high in Vitamin C, that can be incorporated into a wide range of dishes – from soups to poultry stuffing, pancakes, muffins and pastries (using chestnut flour).

Chestnut cultivation in the Midwest and eastern U.S. has experienced accelerated adoption, with the number of farms increasing 57% between 2012 and 2017 and more than 600 orchards reaching bearing age.
Chestnuts offer a low-input, high-value option for growers of all sizes.

There are 8 species in Castanea

There are three main species that are most important for nut production worldwide.

  • Chinese chestnuts (C. mollissima)
  • European chestnut (C. sativa)
  • Japanese chestnut (C. crenata)
  • Complex hybrids that contain these species

Chinese chestnuts and complex hybrids tend to be most suited to the temperate climate and endemic disease pressures in the eastern U.S.

  • Chinese chestnuts are a medium-sized (40 ft.) tree.
  • Multi-branched with a spreading growth habit.
  • Cold hardy down to -20 °F.
  • Adequate tolerance to chestnut blight and phytophthora root rot.
  • Production of large crops of nutritious, shiny, dark-brown nuts that are borne inside spiny burs that split open when nuts are ripe.

CIN develops seedling populations to improve overall production quality

  • Seedling breeding populations from verified cultivars/selections, curated pollen coulds, and hand-pollinations.
  • Coordinated methods, evaluations, and record keeping across farms to improve.
  • Discovery of individuals and families with local climate adaptation, vigorous growth, consistent yields, high kernel quality, and resistance to pests and diseases.