In 2004, a nationwide survey of chestnut (Castanea spp.) producers in the United States was conducted. Results show that the U.S. chestnut industry is in its infancy. The majority of chestnut producers have been in business less than 10 years and are just beginning to produce commercially. Volume of production is low (<1.5 million lb). U.S. chestnut producers are mainly part-timers or hobbyists with small, manually harvested operations. The majority of respondents sell fresh chestnuts. Demand exceeds supply, and prices often exceed $3.50/lb. Barriers to success in the chestnut business include the lack of information for producers, retailers, and consumers, 5- to 10-year time lag to get a return on investment, and shortage of available chestnut nursery stock of commercial cultivars. There are also concerns related to pest and disease control and market uncertainties. Lengthy quarantines for cultivars from other countries and lack of chemicals registered for use with chestnuts can also be considered barriers to success. Chestnut grower associations, universities, and state and federal agencies must join their efforts to fund and support chestnut research and industry development.
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