THE RETURN OF THE CHESTNUT
James Carpenter of Salem, Ohio discovered a large living American chestnut in a grove of dead and dying trees in the early 1950s. A member of the Northern Nut Growers Association, Carpenter was very impressed with the tree as it showed no evidence of blight infection. Over the next several years, he inoculated the tree with active blight spores and mycelia but failed to induce any infection in the tree.
Carpenter sent bud-wood to Dr. Robert T. Dunstan, a fellow member of NNGA and well-known plant breeder in Greensboro, N.C. Dunstan grafted the scions onto chestnut rootstock and the trees grew well. He cross-pollinated one with superior USDA released Chinese chestnut selections, to provide blight resistance.
THE DUNSTAN CHESTNUT
In 1962, Dr. Dunstan selected the individual with the most hybrid characteristics and crossed it back to the American and Chinese parent trees. The second generation of Dunstan Chestnuts was moved to north-central Florida, where the trees have been growing and bearing every year for almost 50 years!
In 1984 Chestnut Hill planted a grove of 500 Dunstan trees, and many are now over 50' tall and 12-16" in diameter. These trees show a combination of American and Chinese traits. They are healthy, vigorous, and bear heavily every year. We have chosen several cultivars that have the very best combination of nut quality and tree characteristics. The Dunstan Chestnuts are the first chestnuts to ever receive U.S. Plant Patent. The blight-resistant (not immune) Dunstan Chestnuts make possible the re-establishment of chestnut trees and the original native forest in America! Become a part of restoring Chestnut Trees in America today.
Dunstan Chestnuts will develop a healthy root system and in turn, become a high-quality shade tree in time. They will start bearing heavy crops of nuts as they age. Dunstan Chestnut Trees, also known as Castanea dentata x mollissima, have excellent nut quality. They are the most widely planted chestnut trees in the United States.
Planting Chestnut Trees
Trees are like children: you get out of them what you put into them. The more you can help with water, fertilizer and good conditions, the faster they will grow and the sooner they will come into production. New plants haven't developed enough feeder roots or storage roots to find and store the water they need to survive, so you must water new plants. Water with intelligence, not just on a rigid schedule. Place your finger in the soil above the plant's roots each day. If the soils is dry, water. If the soil is not dry then do not. The roots of a tree need oxygen, and too much water deprives them of that. Harming a plant's roots when it is young can negatively affect the plant for the rest of its life.
Your planting site selection should be well-drained (better drained than apple trees require), non-low lying area, sandy loam soils with a pH between 5-6.5. The best location is a south slope, with good air and water drainage - avoid frost pockets. A sheltered north-facing slope protected from drying winds and low sun of winter may be better for cold windy sites.
The most common mistake in chestnut cultivation is to plant them on sites that are too wet or too "heavy" (too much clay). Dense clay soils stunt root growth and hold on to too much water, leading to weak, slow-growing trees. Clay soils can be tolerated if there is good surface drainage (slope), but chestnuts do best on deep, sandy loams.
Full sun is required for nut production minimum of 6 hours of full sun. Non-filtered sun. Prepare the area by removing any weeds prior to planting. This step is often overlooked but is absolutely critical to any successful planting. Weeds and grass steal light, water, and nutrients from your trees. We recommend weed mats.
Dig the hole twice as wide as the pot but no deeper than the root-ball. Do not add amendments to the soil such as mulch or organic matter, this acts like a sponge and increases root rot and robs the trees of nitrogen from the fertilizer (microbes breaking down the organic matter use nitrogen in the process).
Carefully remove the tree from the pot keeping the soil around the roots intact. It helps to tap the outside of the container to loosen the edge. Do not yank the tree out of the container as this can separate the roots from the tree. Carefully separate the roots if they are root-bound.
We recommend keeping the pot stake attached to the tree for 1 season. After 1 season you can remove the pot stake. If the tree appears stable staking is not needed. If using Grow Tubes then staking the tree is not necessary. If staking is necessary, hold the trunk with one hand to find the height at which the unsupported top can stand up on its own and will spring back to a vertical position if lightly flexed. Allow trees a slight amount of flex rather than holding them rigidly in place. Tree straps should be made of a material that will not injure or girdle the tree.
Remove any ties, tags, and labels from trees to prevent girdling trunks and branches.
Plant the tree at the same soil level they were grown in the pot, not deeper. Bare root trees will have a noticeable color difference between the roots and the trunk. Plant at the depth of this color difference.
Fill in the planting hole with the native soil. Set the tree in the middle of the hole. Avoid planting the tree too deep. Using some soil, secure the tree in a straight position, then fill and firmly pack the hole with the native soil.
We recommend creating a water-holding basin around the hole and water the trees in thoroughly at planting. Remove the berm at the end of the second growing season. Water slowly at the drip-line. Water in thoroughly, making sure there are no air pockets around the roots. Air pockets prevent roots from growing into the soil around it. After the water has soaked in, spread a protective layer of mulch 2-4" deep around the trunk pulling the mulch a few inches away from the trunk to keep the moisture from accumulating next to the bark. Choices for mulch, leaf litter, hay, shredded or fine bark, pine needles or use weed mats to prevent weed competition and to reduce water evaporation.
RESISTANT TO CHESTNUT BLIGHT
Dunstan Chestnuts have been tested for resistance by inoculation with blight. No significant canker formation was observed for 4 years. Limited growth of the blight cankers was seen on only a few trees and in most cases, the inoculation wound healed completely.
Many chestnuts sold in the U.S. are not blight resistant, such as seedling American chestnuts, or European x Japanese hybrids. Blight resistance is extremely important, even in areas that currently do not have blight. An accidental outbreak can destroy susceptible trees. In blighted areas (most of the U.S.) only blight-resistant trees will produce. Dunstan Chestnut Seedling Trees are blight resistant.
Growing Dunstan Chestnuts
Chestnuts grow best in zones 5-9 and will start bearing nuts in 3-5 years after they are planted. Dunstan Chestnuts produce heavy yearly crops of very large and sweet-tasting nuts. The nuts average 15-35 nuts/lb, as compared to Chinese nuts (35-100/lb) and American nuts (75-150/lb). The nuts ripen in September and October, and most fall free from the burrs for easy harvesting.
Dunstan Chestnuts grow quickly and upright. They have spreading branches, similar to the American chestnut. These trees are long-lived, can grow up to 100' tall, and have timber value at maturity comparable to walnuts. Chestnuts are excellent for reforestation.
Chestnuts are the very best tree for wildlife. We here at Garden Goods Direct understand the importance of bringing the Chestnut Tree back into the environment. They benefit humans and wildlife alike. Dunstan Chestnuts begin to bear fruit in early fall.
The sweet-tasting nuts of the Dunstan Chestnut can be roasted and eaten. But this is more than a nut tree. The shade of its spreading canopy is dense, providing relief in the hot, dry climates the Dunstan chestnut does well in. We recommend that you plant two trees to ensure pollination and nut production. Dunstan Chestnut trees are a perfect addition for your home landscape since they combine the excellent nut quality and shade that they supply as they grow.
Choose Woodie's to buy American Dunstan Chestnut trees online today.