Chestnut trees are a great addition to any habitat and/or property. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but many varieties produce delicious nuts as well. Depending on the type of chestnut you have, you may be able to harvest them for a profit. This article looks at the growth of chestnut trees, and how long it takes a tree to mature and produce nuts.
What You'll Learn Today
- How Fast Does a Chestnut Tree Grow?
- How Long Does It Take for a Chestnut Tree To Bear Fruit?
- When Does Chestnut Tree Fruit Ripen?
- How Much Does a Chestnut Tree Produce?
How Fast Does a Chestnut Tree Grow?
The growth rate of a chestnut tree depends on the variety. Here are some of the most popular types of chestnut trees to own, and how fast they grow:
American Chestnut Tree (Castanea dentata)
This species was once one of the most prolific trees in America’s forests until it was all but wiped out by blight in the early 1900s. Although root systems were left intact by the disease, any new sprouts that appeared were doomed to succumb to blight as well.
In recent years, scientists have developed more disease-resistant hybrids of the tree. The American Chestnut Foundation continues to work on combining blight-resistant species (such as Chinese chestnut trees) with American chestnuts in order to retain its genetics.
Today’s American chestnut trees are still not totally disease-proof and are sometimes difficult to keep healthy. In the best circumstances, American chestnuts can grow at a rate of 2-3 feet per season and reach a height of up to 100 feet.
Chinese Chestnut Tree (Castanea mollissima)
This species has risen to popularity in recent years due to its blight-resistant qualities. The Chinese chestnut produces sweet nuts that are great for holiday feasts and provide sustenance for wildlife.
This tree also has a dense canopy that provides excellent shade in hot, dry climates. It grows in USDA hardiness zones 4-8.
Chinese chestnut trees grow relatively slowly with a growth rate of 12 to 24 inches per year. At maturity, it can reach a height of about 60 feet tall.
European Chestnut Tree (Castanea sativa)
These flowering trees grow quickly, reach great heights, and live for a long time. The European chestnut can gain up to 3 feet of height per year.
At maturity, this variety can grow up to about 115 feet tall. Its nuts are popular for their sweetness, earning the tree the nickname “sweet chestnut”. The wood of European chestnuts is also popular for making furniture, fences, and for home construction.
Japanese Chestnut Tree (Castanea crenata)
Japanese chestnuts are smaller than most varieties, growing up to about 30 feet. This tree can grow relatively quickly in USDA hardiness zones 4-8 and tolerate poor soil conditions.
Although Japanese chestnuts are edible, many say that they are best when used for cooking. They can be used as a source of starch – a good substitute for potatoes.
How Long Does It Take for a Chestnut Tree To Bear Fruit?
Although many chestnut varieties sprout and grow quickly, it takes longer than you might think for them to produce nuts. The length of time depends on which variety you have.
- American Chestnut Tree: 3-5 years to produce nuts
- European Chestnut Tree: 15 years to produce nuts
- Chinese Chestnut Tree: Less than 10 years to produce nuts
Keep in mind that you will need at least 2 chestnut trees in order for either of them to produce nuts. Chestnut trees rely on wild cross-pollination, so they will produce nuts on their own as long as the two trees are within 100 feet of one another.
When Does Chestnut Tree Fruit Ripen?
Most chestnut tree varieties flower in the spring and produce nuts in the fall from about mid-September until November. You will know when your nuts are ready to harvest when they have fallen from the tree and split open.
Never pick chestnuts straight from the tree, since they will not be ripe. Removing nuts from a tree that is not ready to release them may also damage the branches.
Once the chestnuts have fallen to the ground, they won’t all ripen at once. Only the nuts that are splitting open are ripe enough to gather – you may end up picking small amounts each day for a few weeks.
It’s important to collect the ripe nuts in a timely manner since once they start to split open they can get moldy fairly quickly.
How Much Does a Chestnut Tree Produce?
Chestnut trees produce a ton of fruit each year. If you have several mature trees that produce good quality nuts on your property, you could end up profiting significantly. Or, you can save the nuts for you, your friends, and your family.
Although many chestnut varieties begin to produce fruit within 3-7 years, many won’t produce a large amount until they are a little older. A chestnut tree that’s about 10 years old, for example, could potentially produce up to 20 lbs per tree each year.
That same tree could up its nut production to as much as 100lbs per year by the time it reaches maturity at 15-20 years. This works out to be up to 3,000 lbs of nuts per acre each year.
With high-quality chestnuts selling for up to $10 per pound, selling your nuts could turn out to be very lucrative.
Chestnuts have long been an American staple, bringing back fond holiday memories for many people. While it may take a lot of time and effort to grow them and start producing fruit, it’s definitely worth the hassle. Once established, these trees don’t need much attention.
For more information on how to gather and store chestnuts, check out this video: