Q. Are these the same as horse chestnuts or water chestnuts?

A. No. These are quite different species.

Q. What can you do with them?

A. They are a versatile and healthy food : either fresh, boiled, cooked or processed into paste, puree, flour or confectionery. (Peelers, recipe books and nutritional information are available from the NZ Chestnut Council : NZCC).

Q. Is there a market for them?

A. Large tonnages are traded internationally, especially in Asia and Europe. Most of the NZ crop has been exported, although the industry is now placing greater emphasis on processing.

Q. Who grows them?

A. Mostly temperate-zone countries : central and southern Europe, China, Korea, Japan, US, Australia and NZ.

Q. Where can I get trees from?

A. A list of recommended chestnut nurseries is available from the NZCC.

Q. What's a good tree to get?

A. A set of recommended tree standards and guidelines is also available from the NZCC. You also need at least two different cultivars, for cross-pollination.

Q. How much do they cost?

A. A good grafted or budded tree should cost around $10-$1Q.

Q. How many do I need?

A. Depending upon the desired tree density : 100-300 trees/ha. With good growing conditions a canopy spread of 15 - 20 m could be expected in 15 - 20 years, with a height of 10 - 15 m.

Q. How big is a chestnut orchard?

A. Most chestnut orchards are part-time operations of 2-3 ha. Some large orchards may be 10 ha or more.

Q. How soon do they start to crop?

A. Usually they will crop in 3-4 years (harvest is in Autumn).

Q. What production can be expected?

A. Up to 50 kg/tree by year 12, depending on initial tree stocking. (100 kg max per tree).

Q. What sort of returns can be expected?

A. Returns vary greatly. Up to $2/kg for local market; up to $3/kg for fresh export or processing (gross return).

Q. Can they be grown organically?

A. Yes.

Q. Do they get pests and diseases?

A. Yes. But much less so than chestnuts overseas.

Q. What are the main problems in NZ?

A. Wind, wet feet, waterlog-prone soils, Phytophthora root rot and fungal nut rots, salt-spray (if too near the sea).

Q. Where can you grow them in NZ?

A. Most current production is in the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Auckland and Canterbury regions, but chestnuts are grown throughout NZ.

Q. What do I do with the nuts I harvest?

A. Most nuts are exported (fresh) or processed. Some are sold on the local market.

Q. Is there a NZ chestnut industry?

A. Yes. Several companies exist to export and/or process NZ chestnuts. Many growers are shareholders in these companies.

Q. Where can I get more information on chestnuts?

A. Information is readily available from the NZ Chestnut Council (the national chestnut growers association), its newsletter and various other publications. There are also several local, regional chestnut grower groups.

Q. Is there someone I can talk with further regarding chestnuts, and the suitability of my property for growing them?

A. Contact the NZ Chestnut Council for details.


For further information about the New Zealand Chestnut Council, contact:

David Klinac - 10 June Place, Hamilton. Ph 07 8569321