I am planning to plant a Chestnut Orchard to keep me busy in retirement. I am looking for cultivars with the best nut quality, that flower at the same times for pollination.
Does anyone have experience with Chestnuts?
I like the flavor of Dunstan Revival, don’t care for Colossal, but liked the French cultivar Washington Chestnut co. Offers.
I haven’t been able to get nuts to try from Jenny, Szego, or many others I am interested in.
What’s your location? If in North America, east of the rockies, read: Iowa chestnut primer
I am in Utah. But will read anything I can find.
You really need to talk with Tom Wahl at Red Fern Farm.
Grafted chestnuts are not recommended and Tom can provide the reasons why and which seed sources to choose.
Talked with Tom today. Nice man, very generous sharing information. Pointed me in a few directions.
Has anyone in Utah been able to successfully grow chestnuts? I was under the impression that they are intolerant of our highly alkaline clay soil. I have read somewhere that they may be able to grow grafted onto oak or beech roots. Bur oak and European beech specifically are the best adapted to the growing conditions here. Maybe this is something to look into to or perhaps there are seedlings that are adaptable to high ph?
Is it true that chestnuts can only be grafted to a closely related variety (like a seedlings parent) ?
Not dax and less certain but i believe I heard they are just prone to graft incompatibility. A closer seedling/variety should give better odds but isnt an assured long-lived graft.
The only information I know and I too am “less certain” as Mark stated. Chestnuts are something I have never studied but have only listened to Tom Wahl while visiting his nursery speaking very generally to me about close relation rootstock (i.e. seed from a cultivar and that cultivar grafted to it) resulting in enough casualties to have wasted sometimes as many as 10-12 years in the grafting and aging process.
I know no more than Mark.
For me, I have decided I would plant a very small grouping of Chestnuts for a seed source only for seedling production/future sales. I never would’ve considered growing chestnuts due to their prickly husks but I see the value now for a remote area on my property to do so & where the seedling source I have is nearly impossible to find.
I’ll be growing timber type trees of the variety “Badgersett” which is as to what I know a market that isn’t as popular as less large chestnut tree types.
Everything you said is acurate according to what I have read. Wikipedia referenced
Grafting chestnuts to oaks for alkaline tolerance. The reference is 48. It is a book tree Forest man, I believe.
I searched for the book online and found one used copy available on Amazon which I purchased. It has not yet arrived.
Chestnuts are said to do well in Sandstone soil or Granite soil. There are both types in Utah. The problem is with the dry desert West States that we don’t receive the rainfall to Leach The Alkali from the soil, so most of our soil tends to be alkali. I’m looking at Sandstone soil that is in a ph Range that can be amended with rock sulfur or Elemental sulfur to bring the pH within range. On the Wasatch Front where most of the soil is Limestone soil with a pH of 7.5 to 8.5 the only option that may work on a small scale is grafting. A Google search for Chestnut grafted to Beach will show a thread with a man who grafted 150 chestnuts two Beech rootstock 50 years ago for his family’s Orchard. He reported that the orchard is still doing well and that he had a 95% graft success rate. American beech nut that he dgrafted to will tolerate Alkali soil though it prefers a lower pH. The problem is is that it doesn’t do well in arid climates.
Where are you at today in thought? Grafting or a specific seedling species or hybrid or variety?
Sorry, I believe the correct term is alkaline soil.
I am doing reseach, a few years in advance to get all the variables right.
That said, there is a lot of conflicting information on the topic of grafted vs seedling from good parents for comercial nut production. I am leaning towards the latter because of graft failer rates. But will also buy grafted cultivars to breed my own seed eventually.
The advice Tom alluded to was develop trees that work in your area. He was careful to point out that what he had worked in his area but he wasn’t sure if that would translate to the very different conditions where I live.
I was leaning towards Dunstan seedlings, but keep hearing that there are better chestnuts for nut quality, taste,
Hardyness and size, but I can’t find any to try.
I haven’t done much searching but Burnt Ridge Nursery has a good selection of seeds.
Most types of chestnut trees grow very tall (obviously).
Suppose they are kept fairly small, say 10 or 12 feet high, via pruning and planting density.
Does anyone know if they will produce nuts fairly well under those conditions?
Obviously if they do produce, they will produce a much lower number of pounds per tree compared to a fifty foot tree. On the other hand, they will take up a lot less space per tree. One wonders how they would do from the standpoint of pounds per acre (or other unit of the size of an area).
Does anyone have any insight into this?
Have you looked into chinquapins instead of chestnuts?
You may be able to keep chestnut trees small by coppicing them (hacking them down every so many years on rotation) but your coppiced trees won’t flower for a couple of years every time that you cut them. Also, chestnuts vigorously sprout from the roots to try to reach canopy height quickly rather than having a dwarfing effect like you are aiming for. I cut down a dunstan chestnut that was about two or three years old because it was top killed by ambrosia beetles in the spring and by winter it’s most vigorous sprout was pushing seven feet tall.
You may also want to contact @castanea