The chestnut tree sapling is planted out in cleared ground in winter. As it grows, the damaged branches are removed and the tree is trimmed into an ideal round shape, and treated regularly against insects, fungi and parasites. Pruning (trimming for maintenance purposes) is carried out after fructification to enable new branches to grow.
In spring, the chestnut flower is naturally pollinated by bees, however more controlled pollination by human intervention provides a more plentiful, regular crop of good-sized fruit.
When chestnuts are ripe, they are harvested mechanically using suction or sweeping machines, or manually by gathering the fallen husks from the ground using rakes, sticks, pincers and protective gloves.
To prevent chestnuts from fermenting after harvesting, they can be dried traditionally in a small two-storey drying house (known in the Cévennes as a clède). On the ground floor, a chestnut husk fire with no flames burns continuously and upstairs, the floor is dotted with holes. The chestnut harvest is laid on the floor and turned regularly. The skin can then be removed to obtain peeled chestnuts. Known locally as châtaignons, the pale parts can be eaten after cooking or ground into flour. Pioneered in the Cévennes, this artisanal drying process often takes three to six weeks. The industrial drying process works in the same way in heated vats, but the treatment is quicker.