It’s been a nearly perfect chestnut growing season from winter to spring to summer and now fall. COS team members are out in southwest Michigan, central regions and northwest regions machine and hand-harvesting chestnuts. The increased harvest from 2015 to 2016 represents several aspects of the trees: After the easy winter of 2015/16, the trees are repairing damage after the two difficult winters of 2013/14 and 2014/15; a lack of any spring frost in the state, the warm and dry conditions during pollination, just enough rain at the appropriate times, and grower interest in the developing chestnut industry in Michigan. While Michigan’s overall yields never decreased over the past 3 years, they did not increase proportionally to the age of the trees in the last two seasons. This year is a different story. In 2016, it seems the yield has caught up with the age of the trees. Most chestnut trees are producing well. Orchards that had produced 12,000 to 15,000 pounds are producing over 20,000 pounds or more in 2016.
So far, halfway through the harvest, the COS team has harvested about 40,000 pounds of nuts representing several orchards. We will continue to work hard until the harvest season is over. An interesting event is happening with harvest this year. It seems like most of the burs are open and nuts have dropped, but there are still many burs on the trees that have not opened yet and the second half of the harvest season will see these nuts drop. Probably Michigan, taken as whole, will see more than 100 tons of chestnuts for the first time.
Dr. Josh Springer, COS president harvesting nuts on the FACMA-built Cimini 180, self-propelled harvester.