Chestnut Trees, Two - Three Years Old

Thought I would share beginner’s experience with chestnut trees. In March, 2017, I planted three hybrid chestnut trees, and in WInter 2017-2018, planted a fourth. I did a lot of web reading and perusing catalogs, made some mistakes but am happy for the most part so far.

My area is not known for chestnut blight. I wanted blight-resistant or blight-tolerant trees anyway, because you never know what will happen. I wanted trees that would pollinate one another, and that would bear fairly soon. I ordered -

Marissard Seedling - the mistake here, was it was a seedling, not a graft. The catalog listed it as Marissard, but in the “fine print” does state clearly it was a seedling. That means it might be years longer to bear nuts, if ever. So it isn’t really Marissard. Plus, if true to the named parent, probably won’t make pollen, needed for the other trees. I actually think I clicked on the wrong box. Still, it’s a tree, and I plant lots of non-fruiting or non-bearing trees, so I kept it. Planted March, 2017. This summer, I cut off the lower branches and removed the deer cage as a test to see if the large ruminants would stand on hind legs and chew higher branches. They did not. The tag on the tree is at about 5 feet.

Maraval. This turned out to be the fastest grower of the four. That might be the location, or it’s just a fast grower. It had two hulls with 3 nuts each, last year. That’s one calendar year after planting. Now it’s lanky, but reaching a point where I can remove the lower branches and remove the deer cages. I might not - those lower branches have a lot of the nuts this year. Planted March, 2017. This tree has LOTS of male flowers in the spring, full of pollen. Again, Fence is 6 feet tall.


Marigoule. This tree grew about 6 inches its first year, compared to maybe four feet for Maraval. I thought it might be a bad graft, or bad soil, or just the cultivar. My inclination was to throw it away but I moved it instead. Since then, it’s grown to 6 feet tall. I just finished cleaning around it and mulched with bark chips, pruned off lower branches to encourage height, and replaced the deer cage after this photo. This tree produced some male flowers with pollen this spring despite small size. Of the three trees that I have that have bloomed so far, each made male flowers the year before it made any female flowers. I don’t know if that is always the case. Planted initially March 2017 and moved December 2018.


Precose Migoule. Planted December 2017 or Jan 2018. I sort of begged Burnt Ridge to sent me their tallest tree. I wanted one that bloomed soon, not wanting to wait. They did something very nice. Rather than cut the top off to fit the box, they bent the top 2 feet over and tied it. When I took it out of the box, I straightened the top, splinted it, and had a tree 7 feet tall. Very nice. That tree bloomed male flowers last year, and two female flowers this year. This tree is 20 feet from Maraval. It’s the second fastest grower, and will have one nut this year. It would have two, but I clumsily broke off the branch with the other female flower, while trying to add pollen from the other tree. This tree has lots of male flowers with lots of pollen. The fence posts are about 6 feet tall.


I know I’m not expert, which is why I wanted to share. That way there is a novice perspective. Here, these trees grow fast! And there is a first taste in two years, for two of the cultivars, and possibly in another year for the third. The biggest mistake was not reading the catalog carefully, and buying a seedling instead of a grafted cultivar, and possibly (who knows until it tells me) a pollen sterile one at that. The names can be confusing, all starting with “M” and some are similar sounding.

If I had it to do over again, it would just be grafted cultivars, listed as producing pollen. There has been no disease problem at all. I read that deer like chestnut leaves, so I did a double fence arrangement, with steel wire to provide strength and plastic mesh, 1 inch squares, to prevent leaves from sticking through. So far that has worked, even in this deer super-highway.


Thanks for a fun report. I know it is early, but any thoughts on size and flavor of the nuts or were they all similar?

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@zendog, I’m new to chestnuts. Last year, there was only Maraval. I thought they were sweeter and better flavor than those from the market here, but that’s not much to go on. Most things are better when you grow your own. This year there are more, plus one husk so hopefully at least one nut on Precose Migoule. I expect fully ripe in Oct some time.

One good thing, those husks are wicked spiny. I don’t think squirrels or deer will touch them. I never get a single hazelnut, so this is good!


How much height are you hoping to get on those trees? I am wanting to grow chestnut tree but want to keep it as amall as possible. If yours are producing nuts with the trees that small i could do that.


Wow, I have planted several chestnut trees, and after about 3 years they have barely grown at all. I am just happy they are still alive, especially after last winter with minus 33F or so.


@thepodpiper, Im not familiar with dwarfing rootstock for chestnuts. I expect these trees will eventually be big shade trees like maples or lindens. Possibly an experiment would be revealing, such as grafting a chestnut onto one of the smaller scrub oaks. Some chestnuts are reportedly compatible on some oaks, but I don’t know which.

@northwoodswis4, It’s probably the weather. This soil is pH 5.5. This location was cascaras with rotting trunks, and thickets of Himalayan blackberry. It’s low in Calcium and Magnesium, high in Potassium and iron. The iron is very high. The organic matter is high. Salts are low. Wow, -33. I could not handle that! You and your trees are much tougher than I am.

You should think about grafting the Marissard seedling with something.

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Thank you @Castanea. At this point, with three other trees of known cultivars, I think I’ll just let it grow. It’s interesting, the growth is not a lanky and the leaves are more compact compared to the French cultivars. I don’t mind if this one never bears.


I understand, but if you plan on eating these, you’re missing out on growing better cultivars. Marissard seedlings typically produce poor quality nuts. Maraval nuts do not peel well. Precoce Migoule nuts are mediocre and frequently have multiple embryos an/or peeling issues.