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Italy: The cost of a specialised chestnut grove

A study to assess the costs (and therefore the profits) of a specialised chestnut grove. This is what was discussed on 14th September in Marradi (Florence) during the 8th edition of Eurocasta, the European chestnut symposium. The data was illustrated by professor Carlo Pirazzoli as part of a study that also involved professors Alessandro Palmieri, Gabriele L. Beccaro and M. Gabriella Mellano from the Universities of Bologna and Turin. 

Professor Carlo Pirazzoli during the Eurocasta convention

"Traditional groves include approximately 80-100 plants per hectare. Modern ones include 90-170 plants of the European type or 140-200 plants/ha of the Euro-Japanese type." Planting and growing costs over 5 years amount to €12,843/ha in total (e.g. for a grove in Piedmont). Costs are relatively low because the hours dedicated to the crop are not many if compared to other specialised orchards.

The hourly profit for a producer growing chestnuts in Castel del Rio (Bologna) is rather surprising. Calculating 8 tons per hectare at €3/kg, producers receive an hourly remuneration of between €10.50 and €14. Compare that with peaches (max €5.08/hour), Abate pears (€4.86-16.83/hour) or green kiwis (€0.22-11.07/hour).

"Specialised chestnut groves can be very profitable, but only under certain conditions. Growers need to be professionals working on suitable soils and dedicating a lot of attention to agronomic and phytosanitary management. The chestnut market can still grow, but we also need to keep in mind that an increase in supply may lead to a drop in prices."

However, if we consider that Italy imports between 30 and 60% of the chestnuts it consumes, there is still room to grow. The economic results of specialised crops would be excellent at the current prices, but what counts is increasing the yields.

Publication date: 9/20/2017


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