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Old 01-10-2012, 10:08 PM
grapevine grapevine is offline
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Default Growing Chestnut Trees from Chestnuts

I have really enjoyed following the thread on growing oaks from acorns and since it is the beginning of the slow winter season here in PA, I figured I'd start one on growing chestnut trees. Whether you have Americans, Chinese, Hybrids or A. Chinkapins, chestnuts are one of the best mast trees you can have. They are nutritious, they reliably produce crops since they flower after the flower killing frosts are past, they are precocious nut producers, they drop their nuts during archery season and they are highly preferred by deer. I started growing chestnuts from seed about 4 years ago and have slowly improved the quality of my seedlings by fine tuning fertilizer rates and growing medium. Currently, I am starting them in large Jiffy pellets or 18 cell Rootmaker containers. The growing medium I use in the Rootmakers is a 50/50 Promix and Coir mix. I start them indoors as the root tips emerge which ususally occurs now through early March. After about 3 months, I transfer them to Root Trapper 1 gallon bags or 1 gallon Rootmaker pots for the remainder of the season. I use 50/50 Promix and local soil in the 1 gallon containers to keep cost down. I grew about 50 or so this year. They are Wildlife Hybrids from Empire Chestnut. The following pics were taken in early September of 2011 and all are first year seedlings.





Note that some of these1 years seedlings actually flowered their first year. I think there may be something to claims that root pruning enhances the precociousnous of some mast trees.


Root mass

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Old 01-10-2012, 10:29 PM
bigeight bigeight is offline
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Excited about this thread

I have mine in the fridge and put them in miracle grow potting soil in a zip lock bags. I put them in around Christmas. Should I not see roots till March? Or should I expect to see roots much sooner than that?
I have read it can take 2-4 months, but need some re-assurance this is what suppose to be happening.....or not happening :-)
My plan is to transplant them into rm trays when they show life.

I have dunstans going, if that makes a difference
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Old 01-10-2012, 11:03 PM
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NH Mountains NH Mountains is offline
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Nice info Grapevine. Thank you for sharing.

Do you have any photos of your 4 year old trees? Are they producing and how much did they produce this year?
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Old 01-10-2012, 11:07 PM
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i got some dunstan chestnuts this year.. i put all but three in the fridge.. left those out in dirt.. all three have sprouted...so I am pulling them all out to start growing..
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Old 01-11-2012, 06:54 AM
grapevine grapevine is offline
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Bigeight - 2 -3 months of time in the fridge is usually when I see them start to sprout. I have some sprouting now and they were picked and placed in the fridge in early November. I'll post some pics of what I have going so far this year later.

NH Mountains - I can get some photos of some of the 4 year trees later this week. About 50% of those trees produced chestnuts this year - light crops - about a dozen on each tree. None of those produced flowers as 1 year seedlings so I am anxious to see how last years do - they were planted out shortly after I took those pictures. Plus, the 4 year old trees were planted straight out from the 18 cell rootmaker or jiffy pellet containers and did not benefit from time spent in the 1 gallon root trapper bags.
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Old 01-11-2012, 08:23 AM
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Cool chestnut seedlings

You are a MASTER GARDENER.
Those are incredible.
Do you peel the seed first?
I have some Chinese seeds put in pots some peeled some not. I haven't had any sprout yet.
I have had good luck planting the seed right out side but have never tried them inside till now. They are fast growing.
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Old 01-11-2012, 09:16 AM
brushpile brushpile is offline
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I planted chestnuts this week, and will closely follow this thread. I'd like to learn about watering, lighting, growing conditions, and other tips. I have Wildlife Chestuts planted out, from last year's efforts, and Allegheny Chinkapin from the year before. AC planted in 2008 are producing 100s of nuts per tree.

Growing chestnuts has Huge advantages.

#1 A Dunstan Chestnut Seedling is $25 while chestnut seeds are cheap.

#2 Chestnuts have rapid mast production. Some of my Allegheny Chinkapins produced nuts in just one year, and larger Chestnuts begin production in 3-4 years.

#3 Chestnuts are a reliable crop, and attract deer to the property that has them.

Great thread! Please keep it going.
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Old 01-11-2012, 09:44 AM
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The 2nd hybrid in the pics has far more American characteristics than the first one. Those 2 are great example of what to look for between the Chinese and American chestnuts.

Thanks for sharing!!! When you say you use "Pro" mix, is that the brand name or?????

How often are you watering in the rootmaker cells?
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Old 01-11-2012, 09:48 AM
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Ahhhh, love seeing this! I have some wildlife chestnuts from Empire stratifying in the fridge right now, they went in on Nov. 1rst. I really need to get them going but am a little cramped for space right now with my oaks. Well really my oaks aren't the problem, them problem is that I decided to grow shrubs as well and that took 27 slots away from me. That isn't going so well though, so I may alter that plan and go ahead and get my chestnuts rolling here pretty quick. I will post up some pics when I do.

Those are really impressive for one year seedlings.
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Old 01-11-2012, 10:20 AM
Jethro Jethro is offline
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YIKES!!!!!!!

Glad I read this thread, it made me go look at my chestnuts. They are sprouting like mad, went in the fridge Nov. 4th. Looks like I am planting NOW. I am going to have plenty though, anyone need a few Wildlife Chestnuts from Empire? Speak quick if you do. I have about 1/3 sprouters right now, I am sure the rest will kick off like mad when they come out of the cold.
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Old 01-11-2012, 10:30 AM
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I'd try a couple or six...
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Old 01-11-2012, 10:46 AM
Jethro Jethro is offline
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Done, PM me your address.
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Old 01-11-2012, 12:42 PM
wildfire wildfire is offline
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Exclamation dunstans

I just finished checking my dunstan seeds put in the fridge Dec. 23, they look as if the root is starting to make its way out! Can I put them in jiffy pellets now or do I wait?
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Old 01-11-2012, 01:06 PM
Jethro Jethro is offline
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Okay guys, no more nut requests!

All are now spoken for. I planted 21 in RM 18 cells, sent some to Johnrpb, and some to Thayer. Also a few to Brushpile earlier this year. I have a dozen or so left that I am going to wait and see if they germ if they do and I don't need them they are going to bbarrett. I had to order a pound of them but knew there was no way I could use them all. I am not even sure if they will grow here due to our soil and climate, so I didn't want too many, really glad I could find some guys to use them. It will be neat seeing everyones results with them too.

I got no idea where I am going to plant all these trees I have going right now. I have already planted about 40 bare root AC.
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Old 01-11-2012, 01:10 PM
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I have 18 of the "wildlife" chestnuts in a rootmaker tray in the garage I would say about 1/2 are sprouting. I am watering every day, just using miricle grow potting soil which doesn't seem to hold much moisture. How wet do you guys keep yours?

I also have 9 caged tubes direct seeded in NE MO. As warm as it has been I am afraid they may have sprouted and froze.
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Old 01-11-2012, 02:57 PM
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E_308, the soil should dry out between watering.
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Old 01-11-2012, 07:31 PM
grapevine grapevine is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by worththewait View Post
You are a MASTER GARDENER.
Those are incredible.
Do you peel the seed first?
I have some Chinese seeds put in pots some peeled some not. I haven't had any sprout yet.
I have had good luck planting the seed right out side but have never tried them inside till now. They are fast growing.

No, I don't peel them. Chestnut root tips emerge rather aggressively once they start. If you start to see root tips emerging and want to plant them all at once, simply take them out of the fridge and place them in a warm place. The ones that have not sprouted will do so within a few days. The ones you put in pots - are they outside or inside? If they are inside, did you cold stratify them first?
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Old 01-11-2012, 07:47 PM
grapevine grapevine is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by letemgrow View Post
The 2nd hybrid in the pics has far more American characteristics than the first one. Those 2 are great example of what to look for between the Chinese and American chestnuts.

Thanks for sharing!!! When you say you use "Pro" mix, is that the brand name or?????

How often are you watering in the rootmaker cells?

There is a lot of variation in the Wildlfe Hybrids from Empire which, for me, is good because I think diversity is good. I am anticipating an extended drop time as a result. I think they select seed based primarily on nut size (small). I agree with your assessment that the second one looks more "American", but interestingly they don't mention American in the heritage - they are supposed to be Chinese, A.Chinkapin, and several other Asian Chestnut and Chinkapin crosses. When I get a chance, I will post a picture of a 4 year tree that is planted out that has the timber form, and produced chestnuts this year that look identical to American chestnuts.

Promix is a brand name - you can find it on Agway's website. My local Agway carries it. It is a pH balanced peat with pearlite and micronutrients. I mix it with horticultural grade coir which really enhances the aerobic characteristics of the mix.

I water the 18 cell rootmakers about 1x per week - when the top 1/2 inch is virtually powder dry. Chestnuts don't like to be over watered. A Chinkapins will die if over watered. The promix/coir mix has solved my A. Chinkapin growing problems.
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Old 01-11-2012, 07:51 PM
grapevine grapevine is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildfire View Post
I just finished checking my dunstan seeds put in the fridge Dec. 23, they look as if the root is starting to make its way out! Can I put them in jiffy pellets now or do I wait?

I would wait until I definitely see a tip. You could take them out of the fridge for a few days to see if that gets them started. If not, they have not stratified long enough. Remember, you need to keep them in a ziplock with some damp peat moss/paper towel/or something damp.
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Old 01-11-2012, 08:02 PM
grapevine grapevine is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E_308 View Post
I have 18 of the "wildlife" chestnuts in a rootmaker tray in the garage I would say about 1/2 are sprouting. I am watering every day, just using miricle grow potting soil which doesn't seem to hold much moisture. How wet do you guys keep yours?

I also have 9 caged tubes direct seeded in NE MO. As warm as it has been I am afraid they may have sprouted and froze.

Potting soil generally is not a very good starting medium because it does not absorb water very well, and when it does it compacts and deminishes the aerobic characteristics of the soil - not good for new roots, especially when the only root that is growing is the initial root. I have learned the hard way. They will grow, but not very well and you will always have the too dry or waterlogged issues. I would recommend to anyone starting chestnuts (or any seed for that matter)to google Coconut Coir, Promix and Osmocote and buy some of each and make your own mix. You almost cannot over water using that mix. Since they are already in potting soil, I would follow brushpile's advice.

Last edited by grapevine : 01-11-2012 at 08:05 PM.
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