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New South Wales, Australia

Batlow chestnut farm hopeful again, after 2020's bushfires

Chestnut growers who were burnt out by bushfire last year in the NSW Riverina are now preparing for a great harvest, after they received some good rainfall. It's a huge turnaround for Terry and Christine Peel after their farm and house near Batlow were devastated by a bushfire in January of last year.

Now, the family is preparing to harvest one of their best chestnut crops on record. Good rain throughout most of 2020 and more than 125 millimetres this year so far has revitalised their chestnut trees.

The Peels planted their first chestnut trees in 1986 and established their brand Featherdale Chestnuts. When bushfire swept through their property, the family lost 260 chestnut, walnut and hazelnut trees.

They have since replanted 220 chestnut trees, but these will take four or five years to produce nuts. The majority of the chestnut trees they lost in the bushfire were three years old. "The trees we've replanted with are grafted trees so they will be a lot quicker to grow than the young trees that were burnt," Peel told

Also, while the Peels are preparing for a bumper harvest, they are still trying to secure local workers for picking. Their chestnut harvest usually runs for six weeks, and in other years they have a family of five from the Solomon Islands help complete the job. However, Covid travel restrictions have stopped the family from coming.


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