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Chestnuts are New Popular Michigan Cash Crop

Chestnuts have become a major cash crop in the state of Michigan.

Chestnut blight fungus came to the United States from Asia in 1904 and nearly wiped out all of the country’s chestnut trees. A century later, Michigan is successfully harvesting over 100,000 pounds of chestnuts a year.

Dennis Fullbright is a professor at Michigan State University in the department of plant, soil and microbial sciences. He says there is a virus in Michigan that acts as a biological control for the fungus.

“Our biological control in Michigan has only been found here. And now that we have orchards of chestnuts growing, that biological control has become very important because the trees are still susceptible, but that biological control is now an important factor in keeping them alive,” he said.

Fullbright says the virus essentially gives the fungus a cold, and then the tree repairs itself.

He says he expects the chestnut industry in Michigan to continue its growth.