• public library (map)
  • Letts, IA

This will be a  5+ hour conference on growing Chinese Chestnuts in the Midwest. Topics to be covered will include markets, cultural practicies and economics. The outstanding potential for economic return of chestnuts will be stressed.

Chestnuts are a valuable nut crop that canbe grown in a low-input, chemical free agroforestsry system that includes permanent ground over. Depending on soil types, they can be an ecellent crop for land designated as highly erodible. Seedling chestnut trees of superior genetics can begin bearing nuts after 3 - 4 years on a good site and with good management. At 12 - 15 years they can produce 3,000 or more pounds per acre. In Iowa, chestnuts wholesale for an average of $2.60/pound.

The profit ptential of chestnuts has encourage the planting of chestnut groves thoughout much of Iowa. Roger Smith, manager and owner of Prairie Grove Chestnut Growers, buys and sells chestnuts. In 2016 he sorted, bagged and sold over 49,000 pounds of chestnuts grown in Iowa, Missouri and Illinois. He sees no end to the market potential of chestnuts and plans to plant an additional 25 acres of chestnut trees to his existing chestnut groves.

Speakers will include Roger Smith, Tom Wahl of Red Fern Farm, Drew Delang of the Natural Resource Conservation Service and Mike Gold of the Center for Agroforestry - University of Missouri. Preregistration is requiered. The $20 registration, or ticket, includes lunch, snacks and a 26 page primer on growing chestnuts in Iowa. For more information or for other registration options call Kathy Dice at 319-729-5905. This program is being sponsored by the Practical Farmers of Iowa, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Louisa County, Red Fern Farm and Prairie Grove Chestnut Growers.