Unfortunately most of the nationís chestnut trees succumbed to blight decades ago, but when these trees were common, they were highly favored wildlife mast. Whitetails especially love chestnuts so interest in growing blight resistant Chinese chestnuts and Chinese X American hybrid trees has grown. I have been started Timburr hybrid trees from seed purchased from Oikos Tree Crops. The chestnut seed are easy to start and grew rapidly in RootMaker cells and I planted them next to food plots and tubed them.
My first experience with chestnuts was a total failure (like many of my initial tries at anything) because I didn't tube or fence them. Rabbits and deer immediately ate all 200 trees to the dirt like they were candy, so I advise protecting your chestnuts if you plant them. My friend Walt purchased Dunstan chestnut trees from Walmart and Jess planted them in the spring 2013.
The trees survived the bitter cold Iowa winter and seem to do well, the only mortality came from a buck that tore the cage down and then demolished the tree. One tree produced a burr already so I expect these trees will pick up speed over the next few years and produce heavily in about the same time as dwarf fruit trees.
What I wouldn't give to walk my farm and check the trees I planted over the years but barring a miracle I'll never walk again. I would love to know if my chestnut trees survived but I never regret planting a single tree and I have planted 50,000 in my lifetime. Chestnuts will not grow everywhere especially in colder northern areas but if you live where they will grow I encourage you to add some in and around your food plots. A good friend of mine has a chestnut orchard and says the deer don't wait for them to fall but stand on their hind legs, knocking them to the ground. They pop open the spiny hulls and devour the sweet nuts one after another! Those are Chinese chestnuts and deer couldnít eat them fast enough so no reason to spend money on a certain brand.
Jesse has helped me plant trees since he was a child, we always worked together but now he carries the weight of world solely on his shoulders. While he shares my passion for creating wildlife habitat he also has to run the business which often means 16 hour days and little time for pictures. I hope someday however, he will walk this farm with his children and say "look at these chestnut trees, your grandfather and I planted these years ago"
It's never to late to plant a tree and chestnuts will be bringing in whitetails quicker than you might think ;