Chestnuts on Futures MSU magazine

Chestnut Orchard Solutions (COS) only exits because of the hard work of research started at MSU and of the professional growers in the state. COS was founded to consult with new and existing growers to help them be successful in this industry.


This article published by MSU Futures magazine highlights the industry and where it is going and that more, professional growers are needed.

The COS team knows better than anyone how to do things correctly and can help you be successful a s a grower of chestnut–we have the solutions!

If you want more information please remember to come to the Great Lakes Expo on Tuesday at 9am at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids to attend the chestnut education session.



COS next appearance is Great Lakes Expo 2016


Great Lakes Expo 2016: The Premiere Show for
 Fruit and Vegetable Growers, Greenhouse Growers and Farm                                     Marketers!


(Re-registration Credits for MI and OH and CCA credits posted)

Chestnut Education Session

Tuesday, December 6-morning 9:00 am

Where: Grand Gallery (main level) Room D

MI Recertification credits: 1 (COMM CORE, PRIV CORE)

OH Recertification credits: 0.5 (presentations as marked)

CCA Credits: PM(1.0) CM(1.0)

Moderator: Josh Springer, President, Chestnut Orchard Solutions, Lansing, MI


9:00 am The Michigan Chestnut Market; Growth, Pricing and Demand

•  Roger Blackwell, President of Chestnut Growers Inc. and Owner of New Era Chestnuts, Milford, MI

9:40 am Orchard Design; Site Selection, Cultivars, and Care

•  Dennis Fulbright, Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences Dept., MSU

10:30 am Considerations for New Growers; Economics, Pests and Resources (OH: 2B, 0.5 hr)

•  Erin Lizotte, Integrated Pest Management Educator, MSU Extension, Cadillac, MI

11:00 am Session Ends

Certainly 2016 will go down as one of the great years in chestnut history, from the perspective of new orchards, high yields and new cultivars. At the Great Lakes Expo chestnut education session, Dennis Fulbright promises to discuss the Clarksville yield trials and compare the 2016 season with results from the previous seasons. He also promises to bring people up-to-date on chestnut blight biological control efforts, the progress MSU is making on tissue culture and rooted cuttings, and Asian chestnut gall wasp spread. Bring your friends and potential orchardists as we will focus on our continued effort in establishing more orchards and a critical mass of chestnut farms that will cement Michigan’s role as the Number 1 chestnut state.

Have you seen the giant ‘Bouche de Betizac’ nuts? New customers are being found and reliance on streamlined methods for disbursing the product are being used. Two new chestnut bottled beers premiered in 2016. Both Chestnut Head from ROAK in Royal Oak, Michigan and King Chestnut, Tennessee Brew Works, Nashville, Tennessee (released on November 10th) are being distributed to stores. These beers go along with the 10th anniversary of Fuego del Otoño production and sales from our longtime friend Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. They also produced 2 new chestnut beers; a chestnut IPA and their flagship BAM beer now with chestnuts. These new beers supplement their gluten-free chestnut beer which won the gold medal at the Denver All American Beer Festival in 2010.

Chestnut Orchard Solutions will be looking into various ways to obtain new chestnut harvesters so that more orchards can be harvested in a more timely manner around the state with a simple application that you can find on this website in September, 2017.

There will be no chestnut booth this year, but Forrest Keeling Nursery will be present and staffed with people willing to help you with your chestnut questions. We will see you at the education session or at the Forrest Keeling Nursery booth.

Fun Things Seen with Chestnut This Fall

(click on each photo to enlarge)




COS Finishes Record Harvest!!!!

With over 70,000 pounds to its credit, Chestnut Orchard Solutions finished its first harvest as a start-up company. Using the only self-propelled chestnut harvester and cleaner in North America, the FACMA Cimini 180s, well over 65,000 pounds were harvested from orchards around the state. Operators of the FACMA harvester included Dr. Josh Springer and Dr. Carmen Medina. Its good to be back in the lab working on the biological control of chestnut blight, tissue culture, and rooted cuttings of chestnut. Next up, the events surrounding the Great Lakes Expo education session Tuesday, December 6, at 9:00 am (DeVoss Place, Grand Rapids)


At this time, COS team members want to stop and say thanks to those who made this possible.


Our clients, first and foremost, we need to thank you, as you were the ones who trusted us to get to your orchards and harvest as many nuts as possible. It was a somewhat difficult harvest to manage as orchards in the southern tier counties were dropping nuts when the central and northern tier county’s were dropping. We made the trip from near the Indiana state line to the 45th parallel, and back to Clarksville, more than once. So, for the three of us at COS, thank you for your trust, your help and your encouragement.


FACMA, who makes the best chestnut harvesters and who has supported our efforts in Michigan for the past several years. This year, our little machine harvested the amount that had been close to the previous state record last year.


Michigan State University, who worked with COS to help make this harvest possible.


Mario Mandujano, who taught us how to use the harvester, told us its secrets, and taught us to care for it; he really worked behind the scenes to make this commercial harvest possible in everyway. Thank you Mario for trusting us to do it right.


Jim Blaha, an engineer who worked on the machine, helping to prepare it for its biggest harvest.


Mark Stites (Repairs and More, LLC), Elk Rapids, who answered a call for help one day when a problem needed diagnosing and fixing. We were a long way from home. It ended up being a blown fuse, but how did we know? Thanks, Mark. Need help in Elk Rapids area? Call 231-360-9070 and ask for Mark.


Don Guateri, who put things in order with the orchards up north and found us Mark Stites when we were far from home. Don, you stuck with us when we were on the verge.


Gary Zehr and Dr. Dan Guyer, both who made these weeks possible with their past and current support of our mechanical needs in all aspects of chestnut work.


Without these organizations and people, the three team members of COS would not have been able to commercially harvest approximately 30% of the state’s cooperative totals. We hope to have more machines in the orchards next year.


With burs full of chestnuts and trees dropping burs, COS attempted to harvest as many chestnuts as possible, by Nut Wizard and FACMA harvester.


We ran chestnuts back to Clarksville as often as possible. Here a ton of chestnuts are ready to leave a farm at the 45th parallel after dark for delivery to CGI the next morning.


Big horse or small trees. Competition for the chestnuts was increasing by the day.


Remember when we asked you to prune your trees and you asked, “Why?”


Carmen stops the harvester and assesses the fix before allowing  the harvester to move forward again.


Josh working the harvester on the last day in an orchard never harvested by machine prior to this day.

COS More Than Halfway Through Record Harvest

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.

nuts-and-burs-in-an-orchard-with-30000-poundsChestnuts and burs on the ground in a Michigan orchard. This orchard is producing well over 30,000 pounds from ‘Colossal’ chestnut trees planted in 2000, 2002 and 2004.

Dr. Josh Springer, COS president harvesting nuts on the FACMA-built Cimini 180, self-propelled harvester.


carmen-on-harvesterDr. Carmen Medina, first woman operator of the FACMA self-propelled harvester in North America.


harvester-trailHarvester trail through orchard.


Chestnut Orchard Solutions busy helping growers establish chestnut orchards and harvest nuts

COS Helping to Harvest State’s Chestnuts

Chestnut Orchard Solutions has been contracted by several chestnut orchardists across the lower peninsula in Michigan to help harvest chestnuts. For the second year, COS will choose between hand or machine harvesting based on time of nut drop, weather conditions, size of orchard, age of trees and potential of yield. It looks as if nuts will begin dropping in the southern region of the state around October 3. Of course, some cultivars like ‘Labor Day’ have already dropped at this time in many of the southern and central counties of the state. As chestnuts are selling from $1.50 to $2.80 in the wholesale market, many growers are finding that they are more than willing to pick up the nuts. This is the final aspect of nut farming. After working hard to establish the orchards and care for the orchards, harvesting and marketing are the last two steps to provide that feeling of accomplishment, to provide a healthy food for consumers and extra cash for the farm and family.

Congratulations To Our Clients Who Purchased Trees!

The COS team wishes good luck and good growing to our COS clients who received trees and started or expanded their chestnut orchards in 2016. The COS team reminds you that we are here to help you through the process of making good decisions based on best practice management. We can also physically work with your orchard to help you achieve your goals. COS clients who would normally be worried about rain are beginning to wonder it the rain will stop. Don’t over water as there has been plenty of water for this time of year. Prepare for next year and make sure the trees don’t suffer in an extended, hot, dry summer next year. Our clients should never hesitate to email or call to get the most up-to-date information on successful tree establishment. Our goal is to help you establish a successful orchard.

Remember, the COS philosophy is that the most important years for a successful orchard are the early years. Therefore, remember, to follow these minimum guidelines for a successful planting and orchard:

  • Keep the young trees staked.
  • Trees survive best when planted into well drained sandy or clay loam soils.
  • pH of the soil should be below and kept below 6.2.
  • Use no fertilizer at planting time.
  • Have a plan to repel deer.
  • Add mouse guards.
  • Paint trees to the top with 50% white latex (diluted with water) to prevent sun scald.


Remember, these are the minimum guidelines. We remind you that we can provide more guidelines for successful planting, orchard management, harvesting, and/or act as consultants for all aspects of chestnut orchard and tree care when you call us for help.


This orchard plan was laid out by working with the basic plan suggested by Michigan State University chestnut researchers, COS team members and the grower.


COS team members Josh Springer planting trees for a COS client in southwest Michigan in mid-September.


Trees recently planted in a new orchard in a northern lower peninsula location.

FKN Chestnut Distribution Better Organized in 2016

Most of those picking up trees at the MSU Clarksville Research Center would agree that the experience was still not perfect but better organized and much faster than in 2015 even though more than twice as many trees (greater than 4,000 trees) were distributed. By Saturday evening 90 percent of the trees had found their owners and were being taken to their new homes in Michigan. Two semi trucks and trailers pulled into Clarksville on Thursday, September 15 and the trees were off-loaded into organized groups of chaos. Cultivars representing ‘Labor Day’, ‘Colossal’, ‘Bouche de Betizac’, ‘Precoce Migoule’, ‘Marsol’, ‘Marigoule’, ‘Maraval’, ‘Benton Harbor’, ‘Peach’, ‘Gideon’, ‘Amy’, ‘Qing’, ‘Eaton’ and ‘Sleeping Giant’ were pooled together then quickly moved into place ready for the pick up by 35 different growers. Many of the trees hitched a ride with COS trucks that took them to waiting growers representing farms in southern, central, and northern Michigan. On Friday, Sept. 16th, growers began arriving and loading their trees, checking their lists and driving home with new trees in tow.  A COS planting guide was attached to each order.


Two semi trucks loaded with Forrest Keeling Nursery chestnut trees arrived at the MSU Clarksville Research Center for distribution by Chestnut Orchard Solutions on September 15.


COS team mates Drs. Carmen Medina and Josh Springer confer regarding Forrest Keeling Nursery orders being delivered to farms around the state.



COS team member, Dennis Fulbright and visiting Turkish student Ayse Akyuz tour the various Forrest Keeling Nursery trees prepared for pick up by Chestnut Orchard Solutions.


COS tree distribution organizer, Dr. Carmen Medina-Mora, customer Mark, and Turkish students working on chestnut tissue culture, Burak and Ayse Akyuz help load Mark’s truck.

Once distribution was over, COS team members began to plant or help plant trees at various farms across the peninsula. On Monday COS was planting in southwest Michigan with more plantings planned for the next two weeks.

Chestnuts on the ground of your orchard–Contact COS to do the harvest

COS Will harvest Your Chestnuts (no, not for free)

Chestnut Orchard Solutions wants you to enjoy Autumn and all the activities associated with the fall season. Need help or want COS to harvest your chestnuts? We can do that and we will choose between hand or machine harvesting. Simply fill out the enclosed form and submit as soon as possible for a fun and enjoyable fall season. Of course, some people think chestnut harvest is fun, at least once. Let us do it for you. (Click on Chestnut Harvest 2016 for details).

photo 4Photo credit Kraig Ehm, MSU

Some chestnut orchards in Michigan require mechanical harvest as this machine (above) can harvest almost 4 tons of chestnuts in one day. If you don’t require the mechanical harvester, we can still pick them up with the Nut Wizard (below).

Harvesting chestnuts manually using NutWhizard

Chestnut Trees from Forest Keeling Nursery

Chestnut Trees Will Be Available Friday, September 16

COS Will Again Help FKN with Orders

September 17th Field Trip Canceled


The plan to hold a field trip at the Clarksville Research Center (CRC) has been canceled due to the early arrival of the Forrest Keeling Nursery (FKN) grafted chestnut trees. Chestnut Orchard Solutions (COS) board members met with FKN in August to help secure the early arrival of the FKN-grafted chestnut trees for Friday, September 16, beginning at noon. This early arrival will benefit the chestnut industry in Michigan since nut harvest for many chestnut growers will be extra-large this year. The more separation between tree arrival and harvest will provide more time for both planting and harvesting. The venue for chestnut tree pick up will be the same as last year: COS member Carmen Medina of COS will be at the MSU Clarksville Research Center, 9302 Portland Road, Clarksville, MI. The orders will be arranged by grower. There is a chance that some extra trees will be available and growers may pay for and take home extra trees until they run out. Orders will be distributed continuously from noon Friday, Sept. 16th to 4:00 pm Sunday, Sept. 18th. After that, please call Carmen at 616-666-2004 to schedule your pick up.

Hours for pick up—

Friday, Sept. 16th, noon to 5:00

Saturday, Sept. 17th, 8:00 to 5:00

Sunday, Sept. 18th, 10:00 to 4:00

After this, call Carmen to make arrangements for pick up at 616-666-2004.


COS will play a major role in distributing the trees at the CRC. If you want to have your trees delivered by truck to your farm, COS can deliver the trees to your orchard. Contact us so we can get you on our growing deliveries list! We can also provide planting assistance! Call 517.643.2875 or email for more information.


photo 1File photo of 2015 Forrest Keeling Nursery chestnut tree disbursement at Clarksville.

photo 2Lupe Rios of Forrest Keeling Nursery showing off the large number of fibrous roots on this chestnut tree in August 2016. This tree and about 4,800 others (behind Lupe) will be arriving at the Clarksville Research Center on September 16th, 2016.

photo 3Lupe stands by the tagged and ready-for-a-ride chestnut trees coming to Michigan. If planted in the right locations and properly cared for, the 2016 tree order alone will be producing about 150,000 pounds of chestnuts in 10 to 12 years.


 COS Will harvest Your Chestnuts (no, not for free)

Chestnut Orchard Solutions wants you to enjoy Autumn and all the activities associated with the fall season. Need help or want COS to harvest your chestnuts? We can do that and we will choose between hand or machine harvesting. Simply fill out the enclosed form and submit as soon as possible for a fun and enjoyable fall season. Of course, some people think chestnut harvest is fun, at least once. Let us do it for you. (Click on Chestnut Harvest 2016 for details).

photo 4Photo credit Kraig Ehm, MSU

Some chestnut orchards in Michigan require mechanical harvest as this machine (above) can harvest almost 4 tons of chestnuts in one day. If you don’t require the mechanical harvester, we can still pick them up with the Nut Wizard (below).

Harvesting chestnuts manually using NutWhizard




Field Trip to New Era Chestnut Enlightening


COS Field Trip to Chestnut Orchard in New Era, Michigan

On July 9th, the Chestnut Orchard Solutions field trip to the New Era Chestnuts orchard of Roger Blackwell and Doug June showed off the superior trees that orchard founder, the late Don Welling planted. We emphasized that the orchard was heading down hill as Don had not done too much to help the trees. This orchard was established without irrigation and some of the trees really struggled when they were younger. About 250 trees planted in 2000, 2002 and again in 2004 dominate the location.

IMG_0352Made up primarily of Colossal and Nevada, this is the last orchard in the state where the winter-sensitive Nevada still does the majority of the pollinizing. Planting Nevada today is not suggested or encouraged, but it worked at this location.   Roger and Doug also have a Fraser fir plantation that they care for. Overall, Roger and Doug had to begin a serious campaign of fertilizing, pest control and pruning. Because of the earlier use of Sevin insecticide, they began using dormant oils to get control of the mites that had built up. Then the leaf hopper and Japanese beetle problems arrived, but all this is now managed with general management plan.

New plantings from Forrest Keeling starting in 2012 are located between the Fraser fir and the older Colossal trees. The trees are now under irrigation.


We discussed the yields and the amount of return they have received each year. The orchard looked fantastic and Josh Springer showed the prowess of his chestnut blight management in the orchard. Rarely do any trees die of blight anymore.

IMG_0340 FullSizeRender-4

COS thanks our client Roger Blackwell and Doug June for allowing us to showcase their orchard for a delightful afternoon.

Fourth Chestnut Orchard Visit led by COS

Mark your calendar….Fourth COS field trip, July 9th.

On Saturday, July 9 at 1pm Chestnut Orchard Solutions (COS) will hold the next field trip and orchard visit to an orchard near New Era, Michigan.

This highly productive orchard, one of the best in the state right now, will be highlighted on many levels where we will discuss the  things that have been learned to help you plan, plant, and maintain your own orchards! We will also highlight the efficacy of the biological control for chestnut blight and how well it works! We will also have a demonstration of how chestnut blight is treated. Attendees will see mature trees, recently planted trees, along with trees in the midst of pollination time. Come ready to ask questions and discuss!

Please RSVP if you haven’t already so we can plan accordingly.

The address for New Era Chestnuts, LLC is 6998 S. 44th Ave., Montague, Michigan 49437. There is no official address marked on the property, but this should get anyone using google maps to the driveway that leads into the property. The driveway is narrow and somewhat hidden among trees. Please park near the storage shed to the left of the driveway.

If traveling on US 31 either north or south to the Chestnut Orchard, take Exit 136 on Winston Rd and travel west on Winston Road. Turn left (north) at stop sign which is 56th Avenue. Travel to West Wilkie Rd. and turn left (West) and follow road to next stop sign to South 48 Avenue and turn slight right on West Wilkie Road. Continue traveling on to next intersection at curve in road which is S. 44th Avenueand turn right. Continue on gravel road north 300 feet, the driveway to the New Era Chestnut orchard is on your right.

Third Field Trip led by COS

Mark your calendar- June 25, Third Field Trip!

What will we see? A nearly 3 acre site that was previously a forest of non-native trees that has been removed to be planted with a chestnut orchard. You’ll see the result of hard work to remove the trees, prep the land, plant the chestnuts, and protect them so they succeed in the future. Irrigation is in the midst of being installed as is electricity. Come prepared to ask questions and discuss how to establish a chestnut orchard.

Meet at 1pm at the Meijer in Birch Run, Michigan (I-75 exit 136) 9515 Birch Run Road at the south side of the building near the greenhouse. From there trip participants can carpool or caravan to the orchard (about 5 miles east).


Snacks and water will be provided.

Please RSVP to if you plan to attend.