The chilean chestnut
The production and export of Chilean chestnuts have gained more and more recognizance in the European market, thanks to their quality which has been enhanced throughout the years, as published in 1810 by Mr. Juan Ignacio Molina in his book ” Ensayo Sobre la Historia natural de Chile” published by the University of Bologna in Italy, which says: …chestnuts, olives, oranges, lemons, and grapefruit grow there and spread with great vigor and their fruits do not yield – neither in kindness nor in beauty – to the best of Europe…
Europe, one of the great historical producers and consumers of chestnuts, is facing a supply crisis due to phytosanitary problems in its crops, this, added to the growth in cultivation area in the Province of Ñuble, has contributed to the latter becoming the main Chestnut exporter to Italy.
FIA published a series of studies In 2017, on the “Technological, productive and commercial development potential of chestnut production in Chile”, with an emphasis on the Bío Bío region, where it was found that the production process of a chestnut traditional reaches expected volumes from the eighth year, however, full production is reached around 15 years, also identifying that the areas of chestnut producers in Chile add up to 1,397 hectares, which exceeds the official figures.
The first chestnuts came to Chile through European colonizers, both in fruit and in small trees.
The first records of chestnut trees is from the mid-eighteenth century and increasing spread from 1750, between Santiago and Puerto Montt (Frutales, cultura y sociedad autores Lacoste y Yuri), whose areas of greatest production are in the foothills of Ñuble, although there are commercial farms from the Metropolitan region to the Los Lagos region.
The growth of the chestnut tree has been privileged by the environmental attributes of the Ñuble and Bio Bio Regions, as it is a demanding species in terms of soil and Mediterranean climate, only occurring in geographical areas with these characteristics. This tree, in addition to its cultural value, has a great positive environmental impact due to carbon capture, its fruit being a healthy food with immune nutritive benefits.
Both the natural conditions and the increase in opportunities for exporting the Chilean Chestnut contribute to a propitious scenario that should be enhanced with the positioning of the national chestnut, highlighting its quality, and production under environmental conditions without contamination, with less pressure from pests and thereby achieving international recognition.