The Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima), a medium-sized tree, and the Japanese chestnut (C. crenata) that normally does not exceed 8–10 m in height, for their habit, are grown in China, Japan and South Korea in very high density plantations (2x3m; 4 x4m) thinned in the following few years to 4x8 m and 8x8 m respectively. The European Chestnut (C. sativa), a tall tree, is grown mainly in forests or plantations and spacing ranges from 10-12 m apart in rows and 12 m or more between rows. In the last 20-30 years the trend to increase plant density to develop maximum bearing per unit area in a minimum of time is interesting also the eurojapanese chestnut hybrids and C. sativa cultivars. High density chestnut plantations have been successfully established in many European countries (Italy, France, Spain) and in Australia, Chile, USA. High or semi high density schemes (8x8 m, 7x8 m) implement the productivity and the economics returns and can be an opportunity of conversion for many chestnut countries, mainly in the Mediterranean areas that are still producing according to the traditional methods. The majority of such plantations are established with eurojapanese chestnut hybrids (C. crenata x C. sativa) cultivars (resistant to gall wasp and producing large size nuts), sometimes grafted onto clonal rootstocks tolerant to Phytophthora. In more recent years many high density plantations are also successfully established with the European chestnut (C. sativa) cultivars too. The growing criteria to manage these trees are similar to those adopted in modern orcharding: irrigation, fertilizing, pruning, pest management follow precise schemes in a frame of sustainability. The hybrid rootstocks clones, still lacking on the market, can contribute to the renewal of chestnut culture, following modern agrotechniques and allowing to realize orchards with trees standardized for strength, habit and productivity, resulting in a facilitation of crop and agronomic field operations. Strengths and weaknesses of the two different models (traditional and innovative) of chestnut culture are discussed.
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