Looking for any advice or recommendations for planting chestnut trees on some fallow land in zone 4, west central Wisconsin. Hoping to plant, mulch and individually fence a handful in a 6 acre fallow/pasture piece of hilly land - soil on the clay side. Too many black walnuts already on the property but thinking about hazelnut and butternut too.
I planted about 50 nut trees in the last couple years. Nut trees take a very long time to start putting out nuts. That being the case I focused on the ones with the shortest cropping time. Mostly hazelnuts and heartnuts. With a mix of a few random others including chestnut and butternut. My soil is pretty much rock and clay.
There are plenty of black walnut varieties that make very good nuts, but only a few of them would work in your climate. If you are interested in seed nuts, try to find S127, McGinnis, or Cranz for seed nuts. Seed grown black walnuts will often start producing nuts between 5 and 10 years of age.
Chestnuts will be a similar issue with finding nuts that can produce in your climate. I can’t offer advice for chestnuts as I have only a few trees.
Pecans could work if you get some far northern varieties. Grimo’s nursery would be a source. Varieties to look for are Campbell NC4,Iowa,Lucas, and Warren 346.
Mossbarger and Lovalls Monster varieties are cold hardy to -30. Monster is pollen sterile and requires another variety. Some Chinese varieties are cold hardy as well. Highly recommend tree tubes and good weed control
I live in West Central Wisconsin east of St. Paul and have tried planting a number of pecan and chestnut trees in former pasture, each caged to protect them from deer and rabbits… Some of the chestnuts are still alive after a few years, but haven’t grown much. All the pecans croaked, including two of the above Grimo’s varieties. If you plant either kind of nuts, realize it is mostly an experiment and don’t get your hopes up. Winkler hazelnuts are doing better, and a Theta is still alive after about five years. Last year I planted a MacDonald hazelnut and one other whose name escapes me just now.
I would suggest you contact Perfect Circle Farm or Twisted Tree Farm for chestnut seed or seedlings. If you want many trees it will be more cost effective to get seed and grow yourself. Getting seeds also gives you the opportunity to try them first as I have found different varieties taste quite different. Both these sell seed and trees and have experience with cold hardy varieties. Probably Szego, Jenny, and Sleeping Giant seedlings will work for you but they would know for sure and be able to sell you cold hardy chestnuts.
I second the recommendation on using tree tubes. Ive planted around 600 trees in the last 2 years and building cages got really old and rabbits will still get through the 2 by 4 wire mesh at times and girdle trees if thats what you plan to use. Tree tubes end up costing about the same easy installation and no worries about a small rabbit finding his way threw. Ive had 2 bunnies die trying to get in apparently my trees are much better than the thousands of wild seedlings popping up. I only put tubes on a few hazelnuts and they seem to be doing better than the rest.
The state of WI has banned any shipments of black walnuts coming into the state due to thousand cankers disease. I know as the nursery I am at had to start our own black walnuts from seed as nobody will ship us bare-root black walnut liners from out of state.
Hickory nuts may grow for you. In the wild they are found just North of LaCrosse, WI. That seems as far north as they got as a native plant. However I have shipped BB hickory nut trees to nurseries in Minneapolis and they grow just fine there. Also shipped one to Sioux Falls and found it survived! Watch your seed source as you want one that has genetics from a northern source if possible.
American hazelnut is fine in Zone 4 and should be no problem to grow.
Pecans? We tried growing them in SE WI at the nursery I work at using seed from Clinton, IA (reported to be the most northern range of wild pecan found). The trees grew great! Due to lack of sales and finding that they never fruited we stopped growing them. Foolish decision. Old trees left in the field did bear but not at an early age. Eventually they bore their delicious tan nuts that are so sweet but smaller in length than most commercial varieties. Not sure where you could find a source for those hardy pecans anymore. Nor if they would survive zone 4. We are in northern zone 5 where I am in SE Wisconsin.
Butternut grows here but rarely found. I recall some disease issue struck when I was a young boy and wiped most of them out. I see a large butternut exists in the town of Ripon WI but out in the wild I never see them anymore.
Grimo has the northern vaieties. I tried 2 pecan and 2 hickory from them. Im on the edge of zone 4b/5a and my 2 pecans both died from the graft up and so did one hickory. My grainger hickory is doing well. Guessing zone 4 is too much for pecans. Hopefully my rootstocks will polinate my grainger hickory? These trees were over $50 a piece plus shipping so not sure i want to buy more with such low survivability. Grimo sent exellent quality trees and they grew well the first year though.
Get a great cracker. The Master Cracker is very good I know from word of anyone. I have a Mr. Hickory.
Grow these for certain:
Grainger shagbark (best hickory in the world.)
“Grimo Keystone” / “Grimo-5” which is what is sold as Keystone shellbark from Grimo Nursery. It’s not a shellbark and the nut is fantastic I’ve been told. It’s leaves are in 5’s with the 7’s barely showing-up (7’s are shellbark hickory) (5’s are shagbark hickory)
too bad shellbark’s aren’t hardy.
Marquardt hican (I sent wood to Perfect Circle Farm. He has everything I’ve mentioned. Ask him if there any shellbarks for you, also.) The great shellbarks are: Longnecker, Keystone, Henry, & Selbhers.
I’m going into business in Fall of 2021, also (no name yet.) Check with Buzz though at Perfect Circle Farm for anything for you to get going as soon as you could, or anywhere else.
Pecan is going to be totally hardy for you from any northern source as a rootstock or as a seedling. For your ground you must have them on pecan. The only other rootstock used is shellbark hickory which some say is zone 5 and others say is zone 4. To my knowledge they’re zone 5.
‘Marquardt’ I have the original that can be sourced from the specimen residing at Carl Weschke’s property in St. Paul, Minnesota. Carl Weschke is a well-known United States, nut-grower.
Those hicans taste better than any pecan or hickory you’ll ever eat. T-92 I haven’t tried and is #1 according to anyone. I’ve tried the other two and their kernels are golden in color and flavor is sweeter than anything you’ve ever tasted in a nut.
I hear from Buzz that ‘Broadview’ Persian/English walnut is hardy as nails in his zone 3b. See what he says for a pollinator. You don’t need one but you’d be much better off to have one for production.
You should have A LOT of GRAINGER shagbarks.
Buzz has every heartnut in the world it seems like. They must be plenty hardy at his place as well. Heartnuts are nothing at all like black walnuts and have a curiously smooth, creamy, and you can taste the flavor of black walnut in them but it’s much less. I mean 80-90% less. They’re pretty dang good if you were to ask me. I don’t care for black walnuts whatsoever as they make me nauseous. I can eat heartnuts though. I’d much rather eat hickories, hicans, or pecans, however. Hickories if you haven’t eaten them are superb. I mean imagine a pecan but with tones of butter and nutmeg or I don’t know all kinds of exceptional added flavors that enrich them. A hickory pie beats a pecan pie 99 to 1. I mean that. hahaha
Shagbark’s are the sweetest. That’s good news for you.
Take care, and good luck!