Site Requirements

Chestnuts require a well-drained, acidic soil and full sun. Rocks are okay. Deep soils are preferred because of their water-storage capacity. Chestnuts do best on slopes, even steep slopes. However, steep slopes make it difficult to care for the trees and harvest the crop. Most chestnut planting failures are due to soils being too wet, too heavy, or too alkaline. Many soils that are suitable for agronomic crops are unsuitable for chestnuts.

Chestnut trees, like other fruit and nut trees, are sensitive to late spring frosts, and therefore, should be planted on hilltops, near large bodies of water, or other frost-protected sites. Chestnuts are very drought tolerant on good (deep soil) sites. However, in order to grow well, bear consistent crops, and bear large-sized nuts, they need adequate moisture throughout the growing season. Irrigation is not required in much of eastern North America, but it might be necessary for consistent high yields of large sized chestnuts.

Chestnuts will grow over a broad climatic range from USDA plant hardiness zones 4 to 8 and seem to do best in areas that have hot, humid summers. There is great genetic variation in climatic tolerance, esp. cold hardiness, so you need to choose trees adapted to your climate. Unfortunately, chestnuts have not yet been tested extensively enough in North America that we know which trees are best suited for any particular area. So, you may just have to plant a number of trees and let your climate choose the ones adapted to it. Our orchards have experienced -20 degrees F; the trees that we sell tolerate this temperature.