Chestnut Crab not setting flower buds

Our Chestnut Crab was planted bare-root in May 2017 on semi-dwarf (unknown variety) rootstock from Stark Bros. It has grown beautifully here in upstate NY (zone 5b) in the three full years since then, with the tree now reaching almost 8 feet tall.

It gets full sun, hasn’t been bothered by any pests or disease (other than some Japanese Beetles munching on the foliage in summer), and gets proper (but fairly conservative) pruning and then a dormant oil spray in late winter each year.

The problem is that after three full years in the ground with healthy growth, we’re still not seeing any flower buds, despite what seems to be the presence of fruiting spurs during the dormant season. A local orchard that grows Chestnut Crab posted photos of theirs in tight cluster today, whereas ours appears to be at the same stage, just with the flower buds missing.

Does anyone have any insight into why we’re not getting flowers, or if, possibly, why what seem to be fruiting spurs are just producing foliage instead? Is Chestnut Crab (even on semi-dwarf) known to take more than 4 years to produce fruit?

Our Crimson Crisp on dwarf Stark rootstock was planted in the same orchard space at the same time, and finally produced a handful of flowers last year (Spring 2019), with the expectation that we’ll get a decent bloom this year. It’s a bit too early to tell though, as it breaks dormancy quite a bit later than the Chestnut Crab, and is only at green tip right now.

I think your tree is just not quite old enough yet - it’s still pretty adolescent looking to me.

Nice structure, by the way.


@markalbob sent me scion of Chestnut in 2016 that I grafted onto M26. It’s 4-5 ft now and it flowered and had a few apples last year. Perhaps yours was mislabeled.

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My guess is that it could be either an issue about the rootstock or the variety.

Rootstock like M 111 is also considered “semi dwarf”. If your Chestnut is on M 111, it could take several years before you would see it flower.

Variety - it could be mislabeled. If it was, this variety could take longer to flower.

I am leaning toward the rootstock.

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But just wait, if it is Chestnut, you are in for a treat!


I have two Chestnut crabs, one planted in '13 and one in '14. The '13 had a handful of flowers last year and the year before. The '14 had a few flowers last year, and produced one apple. I’m not certain, but I think they’re on M111. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some more flowers and apples this year.


Funny you mention that, I just got the first three Chestnut last year on mine but it’s an M111…They were very good, but that was the same scion wood that I sent you