Mason County Chestnut Farm Seeing Best Crop Ever

Wednesday’s sun was good for local farmers, hard at work harvesting their crops, including chestnuts.

Chestnut farmers in Amber Township near Scottville in particular, found a new process to help increase production.

“This is by far our best crop that we have had in the roughly ten years,” says Pete Conrad, chestnut farmer.

Pete says growing conditions have been great this year, and they avoided a spring freeze.

But they also had a secret process this year that increased production.

“We implemented a process where we would actually vacuum the pollen or anthers off from the male flowers of certain trees, and we would condition that pollen and dilute it and then blow it back out on the rest of the orchard so all of the trees were covered with pollen,” says Conrad.

With more pollen, more nuts fell from the trees, taking this year’s production to record numbers.

“This year’s production eclipses the entire production we have had for ten years,” says Conrad.

With this new pollination process creating a larger crop, farmers need tools to make the pickup process faster.

“Our receiving and marketing for the chestnuts it’s comprised of about 30 growers in the state, and our marketing is comprised of going to various restaurants, distributors, individual grocery stores and grocery store distributors themselves, to market the crop,” says Conrad.

And with the holidays just around the corner, stores are already ordering chestnuts for the busy season.

“They are great in a lot of different dishes, you can put them in almost anything. I’m pretty sure for how many people I know that like them, they are going to move pretty well,” says Sean Helfrich, Biercamp Market manager.

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